‘The Loudest Voice’: Get to Know the Real and Fictional Players

Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson in The Loudest Voice
JoJo Whilden/Showtime

A hot-tempered visionary with designs on changing how America watches — and thinks about — current events. A modern-day Lady Macbeth. A billionaire media mogul. The characters on The Loudest Voice, Showtime’s limited series about the rise and fall of Roger Ailes, the late Fox News founder, would fit right in on the sudsiest of dramas.

But in actuality, most of the real players are alive, well, and keeping their lips zipped, which leaves viewers to ponder where truth ends and creative license begins. A primer:

Gretchen Carlson (Naomi Watts)

(Jim Fiscus/SHOWTIME)

In 2016, the former Fox News anchor filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, complete with secret audio recordings, ultimately bringing his reign to an end. “She was the fulcrum of Roger’s downfall,” executive producer Alex Metcalf says. “We’ll see how she responded to Roger’s treatment of her by using her journalistic skills.”

Roger Ailes (Russell Crowe)

Mercurial and boundlessly ambitious, Ailes — who built Fox News into the No. 1 cable news channel — has been a polarizing figure. “Russell worked hard to delve deeper and show all sides of the man,” Metcalf says. “People will be surprised by the positive spin he puts on Roger.”

(JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME)

Rupert Murdoch (Simon McBurney)

As the owner of Fox News, the Australian tycoon was Ailes’s boss, but once the network took flight, generating both great revenue and influence, their dynamic shifted. Teases Metcalf, “There was an interplay of power there, because Roger gave Rupert something nobody else could.”

Brian Lewis (Seth MacFarlane)

(JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME)

Fox News’ head of PR for nearly two decades, Lewis was a key member of Ailes’s inner circle — “a loyal soldier,” Metcalf says. Still, MacFarlane’s portrayal demonstrates how the sycophant also had a mean streak. Says Metcalf, “Seth really engenders a Machiavellian nastiness.”

Elizabeth Ailes (Sienna Miller)

(JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME)

Ailes’s spouse of 19 years never wavered in her devotion, maintaining his innocence and sharing his agenda even after his death in 2017. “She’s a smart, powerful woman — she wasn’t a trophy wife,” Metcalf says.

The prosthetics Miller wore for the role make the actress virtually unrecognizable. “For a lot of the cast, that was the attraction,” Metcalf says. “They were eager to disappear into their characters even more than usual.”

The Loudest Voice, Series Premiere, Sunday, June 30, 10/9c, Showtime