Liv Hewson on Bringing “Real-World” Queerness to “Bombshell” and “Let It Snow”

"I want to see LGBTQ characters across multiple genres. We’re everywhere in the world, so why wouldn’t we be in every kind of story?"

Rising star Liv Hewson can count Charlize Theron among their biggest fans. In a recent tweet, Theron gave her gay, nonbinary Bombshell co-star a shout-out, calling them “immensely talented.”

Based on the real-life story of the several women at Fox News who exposed CEO Roger Ailes for sexual misconduct, Bombshell features an unrecognizable Theron as Megyn Kelly, who played an instrumental role in taking down Ailes. Hewson’s Lily Balin helps the controversial anchor keep her cool during the process—even if it’s in the bathroom, where Kelly pukes before an on-air interview with Trump.

Hewson can also be seen in this year’s Netflix Christmas rom-com Let It Snow, portraying out teen waitress Dorrie, who has a crush on a closeted cheerleader named Kerry (played by bisexual YouTuber Anna Akana). Before that, Hewson starred opposite Drew Barrymore as her daughter, Abby, on the Netflix zombie comedy Santa Clarita Diet.

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle SMPSP
Charlize Theron (left) and Liv Hewson in Bombshell.

NewNowNext recently chatted with the 24-year-old Australian actor about becoming a meme, exploring gender in their roles, and if LGBTQ actors should play LGBTQ characters.

That publicity still in which Charlize as Megyn Kelly is looking over your shoulder is everywhere.

[Laughs] One of my friends texted it to me and said, “When your mom catches you on MSN.”

So your friends are meme-ing you.

Absolutely they are, and I’m enjoying it very much.

After getting a taste of what it’s like to be Megyn Kelly’s assistant, could you imagine that being your full-time job?

Heavens no [laughs]. I got a sense of what a high-pressure environment that would be, because we were in a building that was designed to look like the Fox News offices, constantly surrounded by screens playing the news from 2015 and 2016, and I just thought, No, I couldn’t actually. I’d need to lie down, and I don’t think you get time to lie down.

How was your character Lily described to you on the page?

Completely unflappable, really no-nonsense, very direct. She’s very sharp and does a lot of observing. It’s a lot of looking and taking stock. Brigette [Lundy-Paine, who also identifies as nonbinary] and I play two characters who are a unit, and [director] Jay [Roach] would describe us as almost like a Greek chorus. There are times we get to speak in unison and look at each other and pass comment on what’s going on.

Liv Hewson.
Eric Charbonneau

Is Lily based on a real person on Megyn’s team?

She’s not a one-to-one direct representation of any one person—which took the pressure off me! I think she was one of those characters that was a composite of a few different people.

What was the most fascinating part of watching Charlize transform into Megyn?

She had tiny splints in her nostrils to make her nose the same shape as Megyn’s, and I had just never seen that before. That attention to detail and that commitment to creating someone else’s face was just mind-boggling.

Both Let It Snow and Bombshell depict their queer storylines as just a part of the fabric of the overall story.

I’ve been joking that Let It Snow and Bombshell are both out at the same time, and they’re completely different films with different tones, so in my head they couldn’t be more different. But you’re right that they have that in common: a very grounded, real-world involvement of queer people. That’s cool! I hadn’t thought of that.

Is that something you’re drawn to when reading queer-inclusive scripts?

Oh, of course. It’s something I’m always very hungry for in any projects I read, or am in, or consume as an audience member. It’s important to me.

Did knowing that your character’s queerness in Let It Snow is embedded in a cultural staple—essentially a very classic holiday rom-com—make the experience special?

I love that you bring that up, because that was one of the biggest draws for me when I read the script and was offered the chance to audition.

I just want to see more LGBTQ people in fiction all the time, and always have. I want to see LGBTQ characters across multiple genres: in fantasy, in science-fiction, in crime procedurals. We’re everywhere in the world, so why wouldn’t we be in every kind of story? So it was awesome not only to play a queer character but to play a queer character in such a, like you said, cultural staple of the holiday rom-com cinematic universe.

Steve Wilkie
Anna Akana (left) and Liv Hewson in Let It Snow.

Was Let It Snow your first LGBTQ role?

I played a lesbian in [the 2017 drama-fantasy] Before I Fall, so I’ve done it before, but it’s nice to play multiple kinds of people as an actor, and it’s nice for me as an LGBTQ person to know I’m part of making media with LGBTQ people in it.

You played both male and female roles when you began your career as a theater kid. Did you feel more comfortable playing one or the other?

No, I’m very comfortable playing both. As a nonbinary person, I feel as different playing a woman as I do playing a man, so I get a real kick out of doing both. And in the theater space there has historically been more freedom to play around with gender, so it would be cool to do more of that as well.

Peter Pan is a classic example of that.

I always wanted to play Peter Pan! I was just talking to someone about that the other day. That’s always been a dream of mine.

Is it important to you that LGBTQ actors play LGBTQ roles?

For me it’s less about that and more about LGBTQ people being involved in the writing process. Personally, that’s where my emphasis sits: involving LGBTQ people in the crafting of the story and the telling of the story, because queerness is not a visible characteristic.
Anyone can play a queer person, and that’s a beautiful thing. But if we’re gonna tell LGBTQ stories, it would be cool if LGBTQ people got to tell them and make them happen.

Detroit-ish based writer-editor, Meryl Streep stan. Thought I'd retire after Mariah Carey called me a "dahhling," but here I am.