‘Bombshell’s’ Richard Kind on Transforming Into ‘Horrible’ Rudy Giuliani and When He Told Him to Shut Up
The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actor dishes on playing the disgraced ex-mayor in the Fox News sexual-harassment film and the time Rudy caused a “terrible” scene during a Broadway play.
With all due respect to Charlize Theron, radiating steely resolve as (and eerily resembling) ex-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, along with Margot Robbie, who steals every scene she’s in as a Fox News novitiate preyed on by the grotesque Roger Ailes, the stealth MVP of the new sexual harassment drama Bombshell is none other than Richard Kind, whose wacky turn as Ailes consigliere Rudy Giuliani elicited the film’s biggest laughs at my press screening.
It’s a bit of a full-circle moment for Kind, given his previous stint as the press secretary to Michael J. Fox’s deputy mayor of New York City on the ABC sitcom Spin City—which, naturally, featured a cameo from the man once dubbed “America’s Mayor.”
“I’ve met him a few times. He was on Spin City—back when he was a hero,” recalls Kind. “The worst story I have about him is, when I saw the play Dear Evan Hansen in October, I go in to get my seat and I’m with a friend, and I see Giuliani. He hadn’t gone nuts yet, but he had given Trump the campaign speech at the convention so I didn’t want to be near him, so my friend sat next to him. During the play, he pulled out a bag of M&M’s, made of material that makes noise when you touch it. So he would go in, crinkle-crinkle-crinkle, and instead of pouring them into his hand, he took them out one at a time, making noise for everyone around him. I didn’t say anything.”
“Second act, he wanted to see the score of the Yankee game, so he took out his phone during the middle of the show to see the score, and sure enough the screen lit up,” he goes on. “I went, ‘Mr. Mayor…’ and he looks over and I just wagged my finger and said, ‘Uh-uh.’ He put his phone away, but he put it in his shirt pocket and it was still lit up. It was terrible, and he should know better.” Kind sighs. “But I guess when you hate someone, you find things to dislike. I’m not a fan of the man anymore, if you can’t tell.”
Directed by Jay Roach (Game Change) and written by Charles Randolph (The Big Short), Bombshell is set in the offices of Fox News between 2015 and 2016 as a trio of women, including Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson, help expose the sexual predation of their boss, CEO Roger Ailes. Kind’s Giuliani enters the picture as Ailes is on the outs, offering to represent the late monstrous media titan in his split from Rupert Murdoch’s disinformation machine. (In real life, Giuliani reportedly helped his good pal Ailes land a $40 million severance package from Fox News.)
Kind religiously watched clips of Giuliani to nail down his voice, which he describes as “a combination of Rod Steiger and Burt Lancaster” because the ex-mayor’s “brain is working faster than his mouth, and now that he has dentures, he can’t enunciate as well as he’d like to.” In addition, Kind’s physical transformation into Giuliani took “a good four-and-a-half hours” in the makeup chair, including making a mold of his face and doctoring his hair.
The journeyman comic didn’t want his performance to be a caricature of Giuliani, à la Kate McKinnon’s gonzo take on Saturday Night Live.
“The film takes place around 2015 when Ailes first got in trouble, and [Giuliani] was a clown, but he wasn’t necessarily Trump’s clown yet and hadn’t become so unwound,” Kind explains. “Just my existence on screen sort of mocks him, in a way. Of course Giuliani, this horrible man, would show up in the middle of this horrible situation. We forgot that Giuliani was Roger Ailes’ lawyer for a while.”
Kind, who assures me he will be returning as Larry’s irascible Cousin Andy on the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, says he thought Giuliani was a “terrific” mayor of New York City and “a beacon of bravery” in the wake of 9/11, but now believes: “He was TIME’s Man of the Year and now he’s a Man Doing Time This Year.”
“Rudy has lately come out with outlandish conspiracy theories, and in the movie, [Ailes] has the conspiracy theory that Obama is trying to have him killed—and some people bought it in the same way they buy Trump’s crazy conspiracy theories or the ones on Fox News,” offers Kind. “Fox News is entertainment—but entertainment that destroys our Constitution. And you can see the kernel of Rudy’s transformation in his brain may have started around that time.”