If you thought Christian Bale underwent a significant transformation to play Dick Cheney in Vice, then just wait until you see Russell Crowe morph into Roger Ailes, the infamous Fox News founder, in the trailer for Showtime's miniseries The Loudest Voice. In the trailer, Crowe is unrecognizable as Ailes. The actor, who reportedly wore a fat suit and prosthetics for the shoot, looks nothing like the man fans have come to know from movies like A Beautiful Mind or Les Misérables. Then again, that might be for the best.
Set to premiere on Sunday, June 30, the seven-episode series — based on the Gabriel Sherman's 2014 bestseller The Loudest Voice In The Room — will follow Ailes’ rise to power as a conservative media tycoon while also addressing his resignation from the network in 2016, following the multiple sexual harassment and misconduct allegations made against him at that time. On July 6 of 2016, Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox & Friends co-host, became the first woman at Fox News to publicly come forward and file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. According to papers obtained by People at the time of the lawsuit, Carlson alleged that her former employer “unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”
Ailes responded to Carlson's allegations that same day, claiming in a statement that “Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false." He added:
“This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit.”
He resigned from Fox News on July 21, 2016, per CNN. On July 29, Fox News booker Laurie Luhn publicly alleged in an interview with New York magazine that she was sexually harassed by Ailes for over two decades working at Fox. (Luhn signed a $3.15 million settlement with Fox News when she left the organization in 2011, according to The Guardian. Following her 2016 interview, Ailes' attorney at the time, Susan Estrich, released a statement denying the allegations, saying, "Roger denied these allegations in 2011 and denies them now. He wishes Ms. Luhn well.")
Both Luhn and Carlson will be featured prominently in the series, played by Annabelle Wallis and Naomi Watts, respectively.
The trailer makes several allusions to the allegations that led to Ailes' professional downfall, and it seems clear that this will be a major focus of the series. In one moment, viewers can see Crowe as Ailes running his hands down the length of Carlson's dress at one point. In another, he traces his thumb across the lips of a different young woman. The promo also highlights Ailes' role as the chairman of Fox News and what exactly his goal was for the network when he first launched it in 1996. “We’re gonna give ‘em a vision of the world the way they want it to be,” Crowe's Ailes says in the trailer. “We’re way past politics, it’s war.”
The official synopsis for the Showtime series, per the AV Club, reads:
"In today’s politically charged media landscape, no figure looms larger, even after his passing, than Roger Ailes, molding Fox News into a force that irrevocably changed the conversation about the highest levels of government."
Aside from Crowe, Watts, and Wallis, the miniseries also stars Sienna Miller as Roger Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, Halt And Catch Fire's Aleksa Palladino as Ailes’ assistant, Judy Laterza, Seth MacFarlane as Fox News PR chief Brian Lewis, and Simon McBurney as Rupert Murdoch.
The Loudest Voice will debut on Sunday, June 30 at 10 p.m. on Showtime. And, if the trailer is any indication at all, this could very well end up being Crowe's most significant role to date.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.