Charlize Theron: ‘Why do we let these very egocentric men run our lives?’

Kim Kardashian West wearing Versace arrives at the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards held at Barker Hangar on November 10, 2019 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States.

The ladies of Bombshell cover the latest issue of W Magazine. Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron seem to have gotten along well with this project. Not Big Little Lies “friends for life!” vibes, but I think they all like and respect each other a lot. Charlize stepped in as producer on Bombshell at the last minute, and I feel like she’s more “front and center” for the promotion too. I wonder if she’s the one who will get more “Oscar buzz” for playing Megyn Kelly (and looking so much like Megyn). Charlize is the one who is quoted the most in this interview too – go here to read W’s cover story. Some highlights:

Charlize on Megyn Kelly: “Like most people, I first noticed Megyn at the Republican debates. I loved when Megyn took it to Trump. I admired her sharpness, her wit. She was fearless. But when my production company received the script for Bombshell, I was conflicted about playing her. I personally felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff that she’s said. But ultimately, I understood her strength and ambition. Megyn herself says, ‘I know I’m tough’—and that’s something I’ve heard about myself. People told Megyn she had sharp elbows, that she was hard. I’ve had people judge me and say the same things about me.”

Charlize on how so many Fox News women felt Roger Ailes was their mentor: “Ailes was very good at his job. And he was also a mentor to many women at Fox, including Megyn. For women to be betrayed in their workplace by a mentor who is going to make your career possible is very confusing. The water is murky. I love the nuance of that in our film: We don’t tell the story of the perfect victims of Fox. We try to tell the story of the messy, emotional dynamics between boss and employee. In Bombshell, our monsters don’t always look like monsters, which is how it is in real life.”

Nicole on Gretchen Carlson: “I liked that our story is a study of how women relate to a toxic environment. We want to tell complicated stories about women, and that’s very difficult. The world likes clear-cut winners and losers, abusers and victims, but reality is not that simple. It’s always a little dangerous to give a predator like Ailes any measure of humanity, but to get at the problem of harassment, you have to understand how someone like Ailes manipulated these women. And I must say, I liked putting on the Gretchen dresses. It was like wearing a suit of armor. I’m allowed to like hot pink!”

Charlize on malignant men: “I want to hate Roger Ailes but, as with all interesting and intense people, his personality is much harder to navigate. His need for power became a kind of malignancy that the women had to overcome. Ailes wanted blind loyalty, and the first ones to say no were Carlson and Kelly. In playing Kelly, I kept thinking, Why do we let these very egocentric men run our lives? This film is, hopefully, like taking medicine: It doesn’t answer every question, and it isn’t the cure, but hopefully it does speed the process of change.”

[From W Magazine]

“Why do we let these very egocentric men run our lives?” Because from a very young age, girls are taught how to navigate and negotiate through the world and those egocentric men run the world, so our lives end up being run by those men. It is super-depressing. Even though Charlize seems to be both-sides-ing Roger Ailes, I have faith that Bombshell will be a more accurate and feminist telling of what happened at Fox News in 2016/17, especially when compared to that nightmarish Russell Crowe miniseries.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty, cover courtesy of W.

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48 Responses to “Charlize Theron: ‘Why do we let these very egocentric men run our lives?’”

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  1. Aurora says:

    I hope this show covers Megyn Kelly’s flagrant racism. I also hope they aren’t trying to ret-con her into some feminist advocate.

    • TG says:

      Exactly I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who would work for that vile network.

      • Monicack says:

        Perhaps direct your outrage at the misogynist trash who force women into these vile situations, including those with patriarchy Stockholm syndrome. Why be angry at women who have climbed to the pinnacle of their careers only to find that they have to either work for a garbage network or leave and take orders at Starbucks? Forget the idiot Kelly’s of the world. There are real women, real victims In corporate America who don’t need our judgement on top of everything else.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        @Monicack as Megyn Kelly showed during her tenure at NBC, she wasn’t “stuck” working at Fox because of misogyny, she shared many (if not all) of the vile views she helped perpetuate while at Fox. People aren’t standing in judgment of women who have to make very hard choices of staying at a job with a heinous culture because it’s pretty much the only way to support themselves, but the on-air talent of Fox gravitated there because they share the despicable views of the network (and would probably still be slamming female victims if they weren’t victims themselves) and that part of their story shouldn’t be whitewashed

      • Monicack says:

        @potty
        I said this isn’t about Kelly. I also said that aligning with your abusers is also at play for lots of nuanced, painful reasons. But more importantly the comment I responded to made no distinctions. She just slam judged the women at the network in general. And let’s not forget that most of the women there are not in front of the camera. Focus on the toxic patriarchy. Problem solved.

      • sunny says:

        @pottymouth I love your comment. Kelly and Carlson are horrible people that spread racist propaganda and lies to disastrous effect on American society. They directly and deliberately profited by exploiting and harming others. I think the film can be a fair look at the harassment they suffered and toxic environment they chose to live in work in(as it benefitted them) and still portray them as the flawed and dangerous women they are. I don’t think it will though.

        One of my favorite film reviewers likened it to a story with Serena Joy (Handmaid’s Tale) as the heroine. Lol.

    • Bookworm1858 says:

      They show her talking about how Santa is white (it’s a historical fact! she says) and she says multiple times that she’s not a feminist (at least one time, she says she’s not a feminist, she’s a lawyer as if they’re incompatible). I think they could have shown more how reprehensible she is.

  2. Derrière says:

    Beautiful cover. Some good nuanced views in this interview.

    • moco says:

      The cover just makes me think of those parodies where men pose together in the way they make women pose to show how completely ridiculous they look. Why is Charlize in Margot’s hair?

  3. Esme says:

    I don’t think she’s making a “both-sides” argument – I think she’s pointing out that a lot of abusers can project a very compelling personality and have some of the qualities needed for success… and that’s precisely how an intelligent victim can be taken in, gaslighted, and disbelieved when she falls into a predator’s net.

    • sue denim says:

      v well put… I’ve been thinking about this too…how if someone is just 100% awful you prob wouldn’t stick around if you had any options, but abusers are usually not 100% awful and that’s what’s so confusing, whether the nice times are just part of the abuse cycle, or the abuse times are just some momentary flaw… but at long long last, the empathy I’ve had for those flaws is finally yielding to an inner resolve to fully honor and take care of myself first…no matter what this toxic culture too often tells us, not least w the people we’ve elevated to positions of power everywhere…

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree, I saw it as you did, not both-sides-ing.

  4. Léna says:

    This morning I was walking my dog, a white van stopped and the driver got out and started following me. I walked quite faster with my dog on the path for 10min, thinking the guy was here to run or something. He never did. Then I stopped at a bench, walked back to home. The guy followed me. The dog started to feel my anxiety and started barking. I started running, took two different paths and I hide in a cimetary just to be sure. Only my best friend told me how scary that must have been and how crazy that was and that I was “lucky” that nothing more happened (she meant is in the good way, I’m juste not sure how to translate it). Men don’t get it. They really don’t see those situations like we do, the difference in reactions between my friend and my father and boyfriend is really telling. I’m sorry I’m telling this here but I know how all of you are so kind to each other.
    I’m good, I’m supposed to go signal the guy to the police this afternoon. A bit scared of how I will be received.

    Be safe everyone. What a world.

    • mk says:

      Margaret Atwood — ‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.’
      ~~~~~~~~~~~ good luck today.

      • Léna says:

        Yes. Great quote. I ordered two books this Christmas :
        - Rage become her : the power of a woman’s anger
        - Those men who explain me life (i think it’s a french book so I’m not sure of the translation)

        Sometimes I feel tired of being a woman. Having to watch my guard. How I feel, how I look, how I speak.

        Thank you!

      • Rapunzel says:

        Lena- I think you mean Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

      • Léna says:

        Yes, thank you Rapunzel.

      • Gina says:

        I am so sorry that happened to you. It is wrong and creepy. I am so glad you got home safely and your dog was with you!

        I live in LA and my neighborhood is “good”/safe-ish. I do feel safe because I’ve also taken some self defense classes. I hate the fact that we women live in a world where we have to know personal safety techniques because men feel that they can just come at us like we are somehow objects to them.

        It’s sad but it’s worth it maybe look into taking some self defense training so you know what to do if felt threatened (example – if I felt this guy was coming up behind me, like you. I would not hesitate to turn around and let him know-I know- he is there.)
        We women are taught to feel submissive around men and to be embarrassed and not make a scene but in situations were where we are threatened, we have to protect ourselves and let those fears go.
        I hate the fact that we women live in a world where we have to know self-defense because some men believe we are there for the taking!

      • Léna says:

        Gina, thanks a lot for the advice. I’ve been taking Body Combat classes for a few months, well, for cardio, but it’s also nice to know how to coordinate movements. Self defense are maybe a good / sad idea. I hate that I have to live like this.

        Thank you for your words.
        This little town is also really safe. I’ve lived in 4 countries in Europe and France is actually the worst for me. Paris, but countryside has also it’s problems

    • Eleonor says:

      Big hug to you!
      I had a similar experience not too long ago.
      I went running in the afternoon, around 3pm, it was a sunny beautiful day. A was walking near me “excuse me madam” I was near the train station I thought he wanted some information, he asked me if I wanted to spend the night with him.
      I said no and moved on. He went on following me, and started touching his croch.
      I RUN AWAY AS FAST AS I COULD.
      That night I told this to one male friend, his answer: the exhibitionist are not violent.
      FFS can you for once try to see how scared I was? And if I called the police, he could have easily said: I invited her she overreacted.
      Btw, there’s a beautiful video, made in France, by a guy who dresses himself as a girl for a day and he says he has never felt so fragile, in danger. I am sending it to all my male friends.

      • Léna says:

        Eleonor, thank you for sharing your story. It’s sad how common it is.
        I know that video! It’s great. A bit sad how men have to be in our skin to realize it, but baby steps I guess?
        There is also a good french video about sexism by rose carpet in highschool (but sexism in general also applied)

    • sue denim says:

      it sounds like you have v smart brave instincts so I hope you can take comfort in that, in knowing you can take care of yourself. as for the cops and other men, as someone who’s had both v positive and v negative experiences w male cops, one a real incel type, (and w both great and awful men at work and at home) I would just say, know your truth, do your best to express it, but try not to take it too hard if others don’t understand. and personally I’ve started to navigate away from those types in my life, toward those who get it… the stakes just feel higher now… take care and be good to yourself…

      • Léna says:

        Sue denim, thanks a lot for the advice. I definitely think I surrounded myself with good men, I had some sorting to do (oh hello Trump fan friend, that is not really one anymore). I think men, at least the one I know, want to understand and hear me.

        Experiences with cops really freak me out, they are the ones supposed to hear us but often judge. My best friend who is a social worker, once went to the police station with friend to report theft. A rape victim was in the waiting room with them and could not stop crying, cops were just standing there and talking about her case in front of the whole room. Unbelievable.

    • Snazzy says:

      Oh my god how terrible. I’m so happy you got home safely and screw anyone who doesn’t believe you. We do!! Sending you lots of healing love and light

    • Jordana says:

      Lena, you are incredibly brave. Do not doubt your instincts. You knew that man had bad intentions, and you kept yourself alive. The police may say whatever or downplay, or make excuses for the man in the van, but women everywhere know your fear, and know it was very real.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I’ve had a similar situation happen while running, Lena. Glad you reported it, glad you’re assisting with the identification of this creep. Stay strong.

      • Léna says:

        Thank you beaniebean, I’m kind of sad I didn’t get the van plate of this guy but at least it will be known there is a strange guy out there.

    • Deedee says:

      Something similar happened to a friend of mine. She was out biking in a rather deserted road when a man in a van started to slowly follow her. Fortunately, a passing car was driven by a friend of hers and stopped to chat. The van took off after that. It’s really scary out there. Don’t take the same path and break up your routine. Walk with another person if possible.

  5. Lily Randall says:

    How awful for you. Please do whatever you need to do to feel supported post what was obviously a terrifying experience. Breathe deeply x

  6. boredblond says:

    The mini series painted ailes as a selfish, bigoted, paranoid, egotistical abuser…seemed pretty accurate to me

  7. Lightpurple says:

    Charlize is pretty much the lead actress in Bombshell while Nicole and Margot have supporting roles.

    And Kate MacKinnon is great in this

    • Bettyrose says:

      Kate MacKinnon? I’m sold. After last SNL I’m practically ready to vote for her in the primaries.

      • Lightpurple says:

        Yes. She plays a staffer and confidante to Robbie’s character. There are times when the film feels like a SNL skit but that’s more due to the Kimberly Guilfoyle and Jeannine Piro characters than Kate.

    • Bookworm1858 says:

      I loved Kate! Her first scenes with Margot were my favorite of the movie.

  8. LeonsMomma says:

    After the movie ended and the lights went up in the movie theater, there was a palatable unease in the air. I felt it was like most every woman in the room had
    gone through something like this in their lives and this movie brought back bad memories that they couldn’t share—just shoved down in our psyche as the price we pay for being women. I was actually scared my mom would ask me if this had happened to me! And I wondered vice versa. We are a far way from openly taking about this—which gives men all the power.

  9. Allergy says:

    Kidman is miscast I feel, it’s like a greyhound trying to play a poodle.

  10. ravynrobyn says:

    For a truly horrifying and heartbreaking portrayal of how these “men” get away with being serial rapists and how the status quo is maintained at ALL costs, I recommend (??) “The Morning Show” on Apple Plus TV. The first several episodes aren’t great, but then the show finds its tone and voice. Unlike “Bombshell” (which I saw, it was meh), TMS really gets down & dissects how this shyte happens and how these monsters lose nothing and their victims can lose everything in a second. Great acting, writing and directing. I’ve spoken here several times of my love/lust for Steve Carell; at the end of the season finale I truly despised him and his vile character Mitch. Some people have written that he was miscast, BUT he was horrifyingly perfect as the genial “America’s Dad” who STILL, at the end of the season, didn’t think he did anything wrong because it was “consensal”. UGH.

  11. Jbh says:

    Unlikable people can be victims.

  12. me says:

    We let them cause we still have our obedient grand grand grand etc mothers silent voices in our mind telling us to enable them. That we will lose or even be harmed or killed if we don’t. That’s how it was for most of history. It will take more time as society to move on from this, and in the mean time, we must take care that we, as women, don’t turn into egocentric men ourselves. I had some disappointing experiences with women as bosses for example. Not of a sexual nature, more on domination and exploitation issues.

  13. Lina says:

    I need Charlize to come out as gay already. I need her and Angelina to be a thing.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s a strange thing but I also want Angie and Charlize to be friends … or to build a new renewed group without toxic people … imagine angie, charlize, natalie p, Salma H, Lupita and other actresses who know the knowledge of the word together we can generate things for the new generations … it would be amazing

    • Andrea says:

      It’s a strange thing but I also want Angie and Charlize to be friends … or to build a new renewed group without toxic people … imagine angie, charlize, natalie p, Salma H, Lupita and other actresses who know the knowledge of the word together we can generate things for the new generations … it would be amazing … I get tired of the superficial actors … of the 90s … you have to move forward … please

    • J. says:

      Oh god, I would *lose* my mind.

    • Kiki says:

      I don’t care about sexual orientation at this point, however, I have said this to many of my friends and young women in my walks of life. Strong and incredible women can get things done. Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie are incredible women, along with Jennifer Anniston, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and many other actresses (including Black and Latina women) who stepped up to the plate in an agonizing Hollywood system that actresses have to face throughout the past centuries and many other corporate jobs where women are ridiculed and humiliated by their male counterparts.

      2020 will be the year that WOMEN WILL NOT TAKE NO MORE CRAP from egocentric and power-driven men who think of us soft, demure, submissive, sex object that thinks we are ready for the “pickings”