Getting The Fox News 'Bombshell' Look

Dec 14, 2019
Originally published on December 14, 2019 8:40 am
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


The new movie "Bombshell" stars Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman as the women of Fox News who brought down Roger Ailes. Their film depicts the late cable news chief as a sexual harasser.


JOHN LITHGOW: (As Roger Ailes) Now pull your dress up, and let me see your legs.

SIMON: For the film, the Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood recreated the style of the network's news women. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Pretty, blonde, wearing form-fitting sleeveless dresses and high heels - that's the on-air Fox News look, says Colleen Atwood.

COLLEEN ATWOOD: There's a sort of classic, good girl thing but a little bit naughty. It's really about - in that aesthetic sense - what looks good to men on those kind of women. Nothing to do with the journalism. Nothing to do with the journalism.

DEL BARCO: To transform into real-life news anchor Megyn Kelly, actress Charlize Theron wore small prosthetics on her eyelids. Atwood dressed her in sculpted silhouettes.

ATWOOD: I think in a nutshell, it's a sheath. It's this very fitted dress with a waist, just kind of teasing above the knee without being too far above the knee, giving a lot of leg.

DEL BARCO: In the movie, Kelly takes the audience on a tour of the Fox News building, including the bustling wardrobe room, where women suit up with Spanx, padded bras and super-high heels. She explains Roger Ailes' MO in having his on-air talent sit at see-through tables.


CHARLIZE THERON: (As Megyn Kelly) Early on, he realized for a network to stay on 24 hours a day, you need something to hold an audience.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Joining me to discuss the Korean peninsula is Seth Choi (ph).

THERON: (As Megyn Kelly) That something is legs. There's a reason for clear desks.

LITHGOW: (As Roger Ailes) We need you in a shorter dress.

DEL BARCO: Atwood says Ailes wanted that look on Fox and had the cameras fixate on female physiques.

ATWOOD: As he says, it's a visual medium. He wanted pretty girls with pretty legs and good bodies around. And it was an obvious thing. I don't think he was alone in that. But he definitely said it out loud.

DEL BARCO: To get that look just right, Atwood studied old news footage from Fox. And she people watched outside the network's midtown Manhattan studios. She says she also padded the outfit that actress Nicole Kidman wore.

ATWOOD: To resemble a more voluptuous sort of Midwestern body that Gretchen Carlson was known for, creating this sort of middle-America kind of beauty queen feeling for her that I wanted in her costumes.

DEL BARCO: Networks and politics aside, Atwood says she prefers the look of CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

ATWOOD: She looks real to me. She looks like a real woman - journalist. Like if she's out in the field and she's in a Muslim country, she has her head covered respectfully - field jacket. And if she's in the news room, she has on a nice-looking dress. But it isn't skin-tight with high heels.

DEL BARCO: What journalists are saying, Colleen Atwood suggests, should trump whatever they're wearing. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF KORESMA'S "CANYON WALLS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.