Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie star in the movie Bombshell.
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie star in the movie Bombshell. Hilary B Gayle/Lionsgate

Robbie disturbed by Bombshell scene

There's a scene in Bombshell where Margot Robbie and John Lithgow meet in a decadent Manhattan high-rise executive office.

It is quiet.

It is intense.

It had a profound impact on Robbie and Lithgow.

"We were equally disturbed by what we were portraying, and it is obviously a very uncomfortable scene," Robbie said during an interview in Los Angeles.

"It's really a very simple scene," Lithgow added.

"It's just a man staring at a woman, but it upset me and it upset Margot.

"You could see it in her face.

"She plays that scene so brilliantly."

The film's director, Jay Roach, and screenwriter, Charles Randolph, said 74-year-old Lithgow, known as one of the kindest and sweetest actors in Hollywood, was physically shaking after the scene.

Bombshell offers insight into the sexual harassment scandal that rocked FOX News.

Queenslander Robbie, nominated for an Oscar on Monday for the role, plays ambitious FOX News producer Kayla Pospisil.

Charlize Theron, also nominated for an Oscar, is former FOX News star Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman is the news channel's former anchor, Gretchen Carlson.

Lithgow plays Roger Ailes, the former Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush consultant installed by media mogul Rupert Murdoch to run the FOX News channel.

Malcolm McDowell plays Murdoch and Australia's Ben and Josh Lawson portray Lachlan and James Murdoch respectively.

Ailes, accused of workplace sexual harassment by multiple women over decades, including Carlson and Kelly, was forced to resign in 2016 and received a $US40 million payout.

"I didn't know the ins and outs of the events at all, but I was captivated by this script," Robbie, 29, said.

"I was absolutely riveted.

"It was the same when I read I, Tonya.

"I didn't know Tonya Harding was a real person.

"I thought it was fictitious, but it was a brilliantly written, brilliantly crafted script with incredible characters.

"That transcends your knowledge of the situation because it's just a compelling piece of entertainment."

Robbie's character is one of the few in Bombshell not based on actual person.

It is an amalgamation of several FOX News employees.

The chilling scene involving Robbie and Lithgow underpins the film.

Some filmmakers may have cut it short, but Roach and Randolph wanted to make the audience uncomfortable.

"Charles and Jay made the choice to say to the audience, 'No, you're going to sit in this room, and you're going to have this uncomfortable experience with her, and it's going to go on for minutes and even after it's happened, we're still going to stay here for another three minutes'," Robbie said.

"I love the choices we made.

"I think most people portraying that sort of experience would let the audience off the hook a little bit.

"You know, the door would close and the audience would think, 'Okay, I know what happened, but get me away. Let's go into the next scene'."

Bombshell opens in Australia on Thursday (January 16).


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