Bombshell is so stuffed with bit performances (Alison Janney as Susan Estrich, Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, Richard Kind as Rudy Giuliani, and Alanna Ubach as Jeanine Pirro, just to name a few) it almost seems a missed opportunity that director Jay Roach, screenwriter Charles Randolph, producer Charlize Theron, and casting director Allison Jones went to the trouble of casting Kate McKinnon and didn’t have her in a bald cap or wig to join in the fun. The Saturday Night Live star has two Emmys for her Hillary Clinton, and does her own riotous spin on Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, and Rudy Giuliani.
But speaking with Vulture at the December 16 New York premiere of the film, Roach explained his reasoning for not asking her to play a real person. Instead, McKinnon is the fictional Jess Carr, an O’Reilly Factor producer who’s a closeted liberal lesbian to her colleagues, a dramatic, inspired-by-real-people prospect that he found “really interesting and surprising.”
“It’s funny you bring that up, because I remember when I was working on Game Change, there was a scene when Julianne Moore playing Sarah Palin is watching Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin from SNL, and I always pictured what it would be like to be with real Sarah Palin watching both of them, and seeing, actually, the differences,” Roach said. “What Kate McKinnon does so beautifully, and what Tina does so beautifully, is a certain kind of capturing the essence of someone for a comedic purpose. It’s caricature, but it always is more layered than that. SNL is really good at this satirical thing that’s working on all sorts of cylinders, but it’s still different from what Julianne Moore did as Sarah and what, I think, Charlize is doing as Megyn Kelly. That is not what you would see on SNL, but I’m sure there have been people on SNL who’ve played Megyn Kelly, [and] it’s probably exquisite, it’s just different. And so that’s something we had in mind.”