Oscar-winner Charlize Theron will play reporter Megyn Kelly in a new movie from director Jay Roach about disgraced former FOX News chairman Roger Ailes. A one-time political consultant who helped elect presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Ailes changed the American media landscape forever when in 1996 he took over running cable channel FOX News. Under Ailes' stewardship, the channel rose to become a true force not only in the media world but also in politics, as it blended straight reporting with political commentary from a stable of popular, sometimes controversial hosts.
But Ailes' reign at FOX News came to an end when, in 2016, he was forced to resign amid a sexual harassment scandal that swept up many of the channel's most prominent figures. Among those coming forward with allegations was host Megyn Kelly, a former lawyer who rose to become one of FOX News' brightest stars. Kelly would later leave the network, after notably refusing to support Ailes, going on to sign a lucrative deal with NBC. Ailes passed away in 2017 at the age of 77.
The story of Ailes, Kelly and other principals involved in the rise of FOX News, and the scandal that gripped the network, will now become a film from Annapurna. As reported by THR, Oscar-winner Charlize Theron has become the first major star to sign on for the film, taking on the role of Kelly. Roach will direct from a script by Charles Randolph, an Oscar-winner himself for co-writing the financial meltdown film The Big Short. Annapurna is already going forward with another similar project, the Adam McKay movie Backseat, starring Christian Bale as former vice president Dick Cheney.
Like Backseat, the Ailes film will reportedly be an ensemble piece. Ongoing casting should be an interesting process as Ailes, former FOX News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Gretchen Carlson and media mogul Rupert Murdoch are all expected to be prominent characters. Casting Theron gets that process off to a strong start, adding immediate star power to the film. The actress is a two-time Oscar nominee, with her win coming in 2004 for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins' drama Monster. Theron currently stars as a stressed-out mom taking on a mysterious new nanny in the film Tully, from the writer-director team of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman.
When she's not playing harried moms or controversial former FOX News reporters, Theron spends her time kicking butt in action movies like last year's Atomic Blonde or 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road. The intensity Theron brings to her serious dramatic roles makes her an interesting choice to play Kelly, someone who is not necessarily known for projecting warmth. And what exactly does Roach have in mind with his depiction of Kelly, Ailes and the scandals at FOX News? The one-time Austin Powers director has taken a noticeable political turn in recent years, tackling projects like the feature film Trumbo and the TV series Brink. In other words, expect a movie that itself doesn't shy away from controversy.