Margot Robbie: The Suicide Squad Star On Her Career

August 7, 2016
With Margot Robbie playing the scene stealing Harley Quinn in this week’s Suicide Squad, we revisit our chat with the in-demand Aussie actress where she talks about her career plans, her dream directors, and staying in touch with Martin Scorsese.

The Wolf of Wall Street was such a turning point for you… The Wolf Of Wall Street opened a lot of doors for me, and has given me so many opportunities. A lot of people are interested in me for characters that are similar to the role that I played in The Wolf Of Wall Street because that’s the only movie that they’ve seen me in, but fortunately some people are giving me the opportunity to play different kinds of roles. I want to keep it a little diverse. I was in Z for Zachariah, which is an indie film, and I play a character who is the polar opposite of my character in The Wolf Of Wall Street. And playing Jane in Tarzan is different again. It’s brilliant that all the films I’ve done lately have been totally different genres, and with totally different characters. It keeps it exciting.”

You seem very calm and confident in front of the camera? Is that correct, or totally wrong? “That’s probably just me being a selfish actor and trying to milk the moment, I suppose. I learned what works and what doesn’t work on screen when I was on Neighbours. I did over 300 episodes, and I haven’t seen all of them obviously! I don’t know if anyone has! My own family wouldn’t have even seen half of them. It was a great learning experience for seeing what works on screen and what doesn’t. I remember watching some of my very first episodes. I’m blinking and looking around the room, and sometimes I’m looking at a point, but on on-screen, it reads totally differently from how I felt it. So I learned (1) what’s distracting for an audience member, and (2) that I can take my time when it’s needed. Sometimes, I used to get the feeling that I wanted to rush through it, to keep the pace up.”

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

You mentioned Neighbours. You made a couple of films [Vigilante, I.C.U] early in your career, and then you committed yourself to a soap opera. Was that a tough decision? “That wasn’t a strategic choice at all. That was me purely taking any opportunity that was available. And at that stage, the thing that got the ball rolling was doing a couple of very low budget indie films. It was unpaid work, but it was a chance to be on the set, which was a dream come true. And then I did a couple of guest spots on a couple of TV shows [City Homicide, Review With Myles Barlow], and one thing led to another, and within six months, I got the job on Neighbours from being in that first indie film.”

But did that sabotage your movie career for a while, by committing to a soap opera? “No, because at that stage, committing to a role on Neighbours was a much better career move than doing the indie films that weren’t ever going to get distributed or seen at all. The two biggest shows in Australia – the most internationally recognised – are Home And Away and Neighbours. So being on one of those shows is the biggest stepping stone to get to America, rather than indie films that can’t get distribution, and that were never going to get me to America.”

The Suicide Squad in action

The Suicide Squad in action

Are you still interested in doing an Australian movie? “I would love to. I’m dying for an opportunity to do an Australian film or an Australian project somehow. I was home for my mum’s 60th birthday, just for a day, which meant a lot of flying to and from London, and other than that, I take a few days at Christmas. This year, I’m going to take a couple of weeks, which is the longest amount of time that I will have had at home in years. Otherwise, it’s very hard.”

Do you like to travel? “Definitely. My plan originally was to finish school and then travel, and just kind of run around. Now when I have any time off from work, I try to travel. I always have the most fun when I stay in hostels because I meet many more people. It makes sense to stay in hotels when I’m in New York doing work things, but while travelling, I don’t really get a feel for a place if I’m in a hotel. A hotel makes it seem like everywhere else. Bed and breakfasts and hostels are generally the best way to do it.”

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

Do people recognise you? “It’s weird…I stayed in a hostel earlier this year in Dublin, when I had a weekend off from Tarzan, and Neighbours was on there, so I got recognised. When you’re somewhere like Croatia, you’re going to be under the radar a lot more, but it’s actually fine. I look so different from how people see me on screen, so they don’t make the association. Maybe they think, ‘She looks like the chick in The Wolf Of Wall Street, but it couldn’t possibly be her because why would she be in a hostel in Dublin?’ In fact, a couple of people did say that to me. So I haven’t had any problems being recognised…once or twice, but that was it.”

Do you still keep in touch with Martin Scorsese? “I haven’t seen him in a while. The last time that I saw him was around awards season earlier this year. After The Golden Globes, a bunch of us from The Wolf Of Wall Street went off and had dinner, and it was so much fun getting together and catching up. After each of the awards shows, we’d all go have dinner somewhere. I got two solid hours of chatting just with Marty, and I was so grateful for that time, because after that, things got chaotic, and I was gone five days later. I went to New Zealand to shoot Z For Zachariah, and after that, everything took off again. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with anyone from The Wolf Of Wall Street since then.”

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

Are there any other directors that you’d like to work with? “My absolute dream top three is Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and The Coen Brothers. I could watch their films a thousand times. They’re the top three on my bucket list.”

Do you have a master plan now for your career? “The plan has been the same since my first meeting with my managers. In my career, I want quality, diversity, and longevity. That’s the big goal, and I always strive toward that. The smaller, in-between goals are obviously to work with great filmmakers, and we have a list much more extensive than the three that I mentioned. Also, I’d like to create work as well, whether it’s producing or directing or writing one day.”

If you hadn’t discovered that you have the gift of acting, what would you have done? “I’d probably end up performing in some way. I love the trapeze, so I’d like to think that I’d be a trapeze artist. To be in a circus would be an amazing job.”

Suicide Squad is in cinemas now.

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Comments

  1. John Smith II

    Her first two films were unpaid?!? Wow, good on her to make it this far, she deserves all the success in the world through perseverance and hard work.

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