Charles Randolph’s decision to create a fictional female character in Bombshell had a deeper meaning than one might think. AfterBuzz TV spoke with him at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and he explained why he believed this to be such a necessary element to the film.
“The story we never tell is the woman who fills compelled to say yes and gets trapped in that relationship,” Randolph admitted. “It would have been impossible to take a real person and spotlight them. It would have been cruel. People would’ve been trying to figure out, oh, who is that?”
Randolph continued by addressing how all the women who stepped forward would have had to be re-interviewed, and he didn’t want to put anyone through that.
He added, “It was just much safer, and I think smarter, to choose someone that I, that it’s a composite that I basically make up and tell that story from her perspective.”
Bombshell tells the true story of Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against Roger Ailes. Unlike the TV show The Loudest Voice, Bombshell centers in on the women who experienced Ailes’s advances, giving us less of his point of view and more of what it was like being a female and working for Ailes. John Lithgow’s Ailes leaves us feeling uncomfortable during many of the scenes, but especially with his moments with Margot Robbie’s character, Kayla.
While Carlson and, ultimately, Megyn Kelly fight back against this man, Kayla ends up becoming another victim who gives into the advances of Ailes for job security and potential advancement.
Regarding a scene with Kayla lifting up her dress for Ailes, Randolph commented by saying, “The idea was always to show that relatively small, relatively small, sexual events that happened in the workplace, because the context is so inappropriate, really are powerful. And so that’s the idea. Just seeing that, right, is utterly, oh, horrifying.”
On a separate interview with Randolph’s wife, Mili Avital, at the Writers Guild Awards, I had the opportunity of speaking with her about the film, and she expressed how proud she was of her husband for shedding light on such a traumatic situation for these women in the workplace.
“When I watched it, I felt like he wrote it for me,” Avital confessed. “But I feel like every woman that watches it is going to feel like he wrote it for her. And I couldn’t be more proud. I, I felt, I just got very lucky finding the right man.”
Randolph concluded his interview with AfterBuzz TV by discussing how he created characters who the viewers would be able to empathize with. He pegged conservative Kayla’s decision to sleep with Kate McKinnon’s character, Jess, a closeted liberal, as the moment when he knew the audience would love Kayla and side with her. He believes this is what redeems Kayla’s character for people and why we follow her journey.
“The key is just finding a way to make the people around the character love them then we love them, too,” he said.
Bombshell, which is still in theaters, won many awards this season including Best Makeup for best the Academy Awards, the Critic’s Choice Movie Award, and the BAFTAs. Robbie also picked up the AACTA International Award for Best Supporting Actress in Bombshell, and the film earned the Producer Guild of America Stanley Kramer Award.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Bombshell, or read the book The Loudest Voice by Gabriel Sherman which focuses on Ailes’s rise with Fox News as well as his demise.