The Loudest Voice: An Unrecognisable Russell Crowe Plays the Most Toxic Man on TV

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The Loudest Voice: An Unrecognisable Russell Crowe Plays the Most Toxic Man on TV

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

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here’s a moment in the first episode of The Loudest Voice that’ll make you think you’re about to watch a start-up thriller. Roger Ailes, the now-deceased and heavily discredited former CEO of Fox News is seated in a meeting led by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is planning to launch a new TV channel. 

“Who is your audience,” Ailes asks, once everyone else is done speaking. “Everyone,” the room collectively responds. Makes sense. It’s a news channel after all, reaching the largest possible target audience ought to be the goal. “Wrong,” Ailes responds, “Your audience is the Conservatives — the silent majority that makes up the United States of America.”

It may seem like a throwaway comment at first, expected of any morally-bankrupt businessman looking to make a quick buck. But over the next few episodes of the gripping mini-series — now streaming on Hotstar Premium — that small piece of advice snowballs into an evisceration of the most watched cable news channel in America, Fox News. Throw in a star cast that could easily be the line-up of the next Oscar favourite — Russel Crowe, Naomi Watts, Seth Macfarlane, Sienna Miller — and you’re left with one of the most relevant dramas currently streaming online.

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Throw in a star cast that could easily be the line-up of the next Oscar favourite — Russel Crowe, Naomi Watts, Seth Macfarlane, Sienna Miller — and you’re left with one of the most relevant dramas currently streaming online.

3dot Productions/ Slow Pony/ Blumhouse Television/ Hotstar

From #MeToo to the rise of fake news, the show deals with some of the most controversial themes of our generation. Each episode traces a recent event in America’s recent history — taking you behind the scenes of the Fox’s launch in 1995, through 9/11, the execution of Saddam Hussein, Barack Obama’s two terms, and the election of Donald Trump. We’re introduced to these events through master manipulator, Roger Ailes, a power-hungry former politician, who takes charge of his news channel with an iron fist. 

Ailes is a family man and patriot, who dislikes Barack Obama for no apparent reason (he insists that the staff call him Barack “Hussein” Obama on-air). He’s also revealed to be a misogynist with a history of abusing women, and recording employees. In one particularly hard to watch moment, post 9/11, Ailes is seen asking the handyman to install a hidden-camera in the bathroom. Of course, the employees aren’t made privy to this information.

Ailes’ paranoia and manipulative behaviour are brilliantly brought to life by Russell Crowe — so brilliantly, in fact, that it takes you a whole two episodes to recognise the Gladiator actor under the balding head and the pot belly. Crowe’s ability to switch between charming gentleman to control freak in minutes is so commendable, you’re never sure of how to feel about this supposedly all-knowing CEO.

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The Loudest Voice also tackles sexual harassment at the pre-#MeToo workplace.

3dot Productions/ Slow Pony/ Blumhouse Television/ Hotstar

The Loudest Voice also tackles sexual harassment at the pre-#MeToo workplace. Gretchen Carlsen (Naomi Watts) and Laurie Lurn (Annabelle Wallis), are the most affected by this abusive behaviour, although a number of women eventually call the former CEO out.

Naomi Watts is exceptional in her role as Carlsen, a former Miss America, who is frustrated with having to constantly deal with her boss’s harassment to pursue her own journalistic ambitions. Roger Ailes treatment of Lurn, on the other hand, is so enraging at points, it’s physically unwatchable. Ailes wife Beth (Sienna Miller), meanwhile, plays the always supportive wife, who refuses to acknowledge her husband’s abusive behaviour.

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Ailes wife Beth (Sienna Miller), meanwhile, plays the always supportive wife, who refuses to acknowledge her husband’s abusive behaviour.

3dot Productions/ Slow Pony/ Blumhouse Television/ Hotstar

Towards the end of the mini-series, we’re introduced to Donald Trump, who despite never showing his face, borrows heavily from Ailes’ and Fox News’ rhetoric to be elected president. That’s the beauty of The Loudest Voice — it’s part documentary, part gripping drama, and part true crime. To borrow from Roger Ailes’ sentiment during the launch of Fox News, “It’s simply great television.”

 — If you’re a fan of Russell Crowe or Naomi Watts, you should be binge watching The Loudest Voice exclusively streaming on Hotstar Premium.

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