Owe it to audience to be authentic, truthful: Jay Roach on 'Bombshell'

Justin Rao

Mumbai, Jan 2 (PTI) Hollywood director Jay Roach, whose latest film 'Bombshell' chronicles the real life story of a group of women at Fox News who set out to expose former CEO Roger Ailes, says it was important to get the 'essential truth' out through the movie. The women came out against the disgraced TV executive, who was eventually fired for engaging in multiple sexual harassment cases with 23 known accounts.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, Jay said the team had to 'compress' a year long series of events for the film without compromising with authenticity.

'It's very important to get the essential truth in a story like this. We are compressing a year-long series of events into a two-hour movie, we are distilling it down to just a few characters.

'Some of the women we talked to—to try and make it as authentic as we could —from Fox news couldn't reveal themselves because, in some cases they still worked there or had signed a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which required them to remain silent as part of their settlement,' he said.

The film features Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman playing Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, real life women who spoke out against Ailes.

Margot Robbie plays Kayla, a fictional character who is an amalgamation of all the women who could not come out in open against him, the director said.

Jay said his responsibility was to make sure that both, real as well as fictional characters, have a consistent authenticity to them.

'Megyn Kelly is portrayed by Charlize Theron and we tried to be accurate and authentic about how she was portrayed. Similarly for Gretchen Carlson (played by Kidman). But Kayla, portrayed by Robbie and Jess (played by Kate McKinnon) are examples of characters whose stories we had heard but couldn't identify the women.

'So we combined various aspects to mask who they were, gave them fictitious names and character description. But they authentically represent what some young women were going through in the network.' The filmmaker said being authentic is different from being accurate and the team was striving to be the former.

'There has never been a fully 'accurate' docu-drama in the history of filmmaking because you can't. There are actors, you are on sets, you're compressing time, reducing characters so you're always taking some kind of license.

'But it is required to be 'authentic', to get the essential truth of what went on. You owe that to the audience, you research intensively to try to deliver that essential truth and be as authentic as you can,' he added.

One of the techniques the film uses is that of characters breaking the fourth wall and talking to the camera. This, Jay said, was by design.

'The good thing about Charles Randolph's screenplay—and the way we went about it—was that, by breaking the fourth wall, talking to the camera, using modern meta techniques we wanted to say to the audience: this is a construct, you're watching a representation of something, it's not meant to be a documentary or a time machine.' The women of Fox News had come out against their boss, way before the world witnessed the #MeToo movement, which has since brought down many powerful men across industries.

The filmmaker said because of the #MeToo movement, more people are talking about sexual harassment than ever before 'but there's still so much work to do.' 'In no way do I think it's a solved problem. There are women, especially those who don't have access to attorneys, women who work regular jobs... There is hope, but it's just the tip of the iceberg that's been addressed.' A Lionsgate release, 'Bombshell', distributed by Cinepolis India, will release on January 3. PTI JUR BK BK