How Charlize Theron Was Really Able To Transform Into Megyn Kelly

Fox News satire "Bombshell" didn't exactly set the world alight when it was released in 2019, with many feeling it simply didn't go far enough. Achieving a not-terrible 68 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie follows the likes of Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson as they fight back against tyrannical leader Roger Ailes. Considering it tackles real-life issues, with Hollywood actors including Nicole Kidman and John Lithgow playing actual people, "Bombshell" was always going to be controversial. 

Regardless of how well it was received, the general consensus was that Charlize Theron killed it as Kelly. The Oscar-winning star wore extensive prosthetics and heavy makeup for her portrayal of the outspoken political commentator, with The Independent admitting, "Theron's transformation into Megyn Kelly is a little frightening to witness" while IndieWire contended she was "the best part of a cartoonish Fox News satire." Elsewhere, Games Radar described Theron's performance as "gobsmackingly good."

Here's how the esteemed actor became the fearsome former Fox News host. 

Charlize Theron was unrecognizable in Bombshell

Charlize Theron is known for disappearing into roles. Theron is among the celebrities who completely transformed their look with a haircut, especially when she shaved her head for "Mad Max: Fury Road." But "Bombshell" was a whole different ballgame. As prosthetic makeup designer Kazu Hiro explained to Insider, transforming an actor into a real-life person is a bigger challenge because viewers already have a pre-established idea of what they look like. 

For "Bombshell," he only had six months to get ready. Hiro watched tons of Fox News clips before creating a 3D body scan and life cast of Theron, to ascertain exactly how much needed to change. Then, a mold was made from each life cast, out of which skin-like prostheses — for her chin, eyes, and nose — were created using medical-grade silicone. These were attached to Theron's face with medical glue and typically took three hours to apply each day.

Theron was also aided by makeup, which transformed the shape of her eyes, utilizing fake eyelashes to alter the weight of her lash line. She also wore colored contact lenses, while wigs brought her hairline down. As Hiro told Elle, "From the start, Charlize said 'I don't want people to think, this is Charlize acting as Megyn Kelly.' She didn't want to have to convince the audience of something." He elaborated, "The goal was to get rid of any image from the mind [of Theron], so viewers can really be joined to the story."

Playing Megyn Kelly presented a huge challenge for Theron

At first, Charlize Theron wasn't sure whether she would even be able to transform into Megyn Kelly, admitting during a chat with fellow actor Adam Driver, for Variety, that she "looked like a young Glenn Close." Thankfully, after meeting with maestro Kazu Hiro a couple more times they figured it out, leading Theron to up her game too. The "Mad Max: Fury Road" star explained, "He was so good at what he did that I kept going, 'Oh, now I have to bring that same level of what he's giving me.'"

She added, "When you work with people who are that good, they push you to have to be better." Playing the controversial TV personality presented another challenge too, outside of the physical transformation aspect. As Theron told NPR, "We have different, I think, points of view on a lot of issues. And she has definitely said things in the past that I've had issue with, that I took issue with." However, the actor reasoned it was important to share these women's stories.

Kelly's husband, Doug Brunt, argued the performance was "a little one-dimensional," though he did acknowledge Theron's look was spot-on (via People). The Fox alum herself, meanwhile, had a visceral reaction to "Bombshell," sharing on Instagram that watching it made her feel like she could've done more to support her colleagues. Theron told Deadline seeing Kelly's reaction really hit her hard, likely because it meant they'd done something right.