V123: Margot Robbie by Charlize Theron

V123: Margot Robbie by Charlize Theron

V123: Margot Robbie by Charlize Theron

Fresh off the megatron explosivity of Bombshell, Robbie stars in and produces her biggest project yet, Birds of Prey

Fresh off the megatron explosivity of Bombshell, Robbie stars in and produces her biggest project yet, Birds of Prey

Photography: Chris Colls

Styling: Paul Cavaco

Text: Marissa G. Muller

This article appears in the pages of V123: The New Hollywood Issue, available now. Order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.

It’s no wonder that, for Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, the fandom is mutual. Both left their continents of origin to become Hollywood royalty, and recently starred together in Bombshell as anchorwomen battling sexist double standards (or worse) in the workplace. Once typecast as the “gold-digging girlfriend,” a pre-fame Robbie might’ve empathized with her fictional character, Fox News producer Kayla Pospisil. But of course, Robbie’s career quickly outgrew anyone’s expectations (including her own), as the Aussie’s ever-lengthening actor-producer credits continue to prove. Her next-up Batman spin-off, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will be her company LuckyChap’s highest-budget endeavor to date.

Margot Robbie Charlize, thank you for doing this! Do you want to share a pickle? I’m not normally a big pickle eater, but I’ve been really liking them…

Charlize Theron Yes, I want to share a pickle with you! How could I say no?

MR I just learned, like a few years ago, that pickles are actually cucumbers.

CT [Laughter] That is amazing to me. My daughter thinks cucumbers are pickles. She calls cucumbers “pickles.” I’m like, that’s not a pickle…[On that note], let’s talk about your childhood. I’m picturing you spearfishing off the Gold Coast and catching your dinner as a 12-year-old.

MR Literally, yeah [laughs]. So, I actually very much had that rural Australian experience. [When I was young] we moved out to the hinterland, which is part of the Gold Coast. We lived on acreage, so it was definitely [in line with a certain image of Australia]. People in America are like, were there kangaroos and koalas outside your bedroom window? And I’m like, well yes there were, but that’s not a normal thing in Australia, necessarily! I feel like I really got all the best of Australia.

CT So, when did you discover movies?

MR We had a limited and eclectic collection of VHS tapes, which I watched a thousand times over. I’d be rattling off lines in the kitchen, and my mom was like, “How do you remember all this? Are you making this up?” [Even] so, I never said, “I’m going to be an actor.” I think it was probably a similar thing as when you were growing up in South Africa...

CT Yeah, no. It’s like talking about a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.

MR Yeah, it’s not an actual job. And even after I was working full-time at 17 on Neighbours, my family was like, “So… what’s your plan? What are you going to do for a job and career?”

CT Did you have to really convince your parents? What did they want you to do?

MR I don’t know! I think the best-case scenario would have been going to university.

CT Boy, were they wrong [laughs].

MR I never did go to university! But I went with my friends to all university initiation-week parties.

CT Smart! The best part! So what was the next step, after [working on Neighbours]?

MR To begin with, I was just stoked to not get fired. But after that, there seemed to be two options available: One, stay on Neighbours; many of my castmates on that show had worked there for 30 years, and I could have had a very comfortable, nice life [by doing that]. But I knew I didn’t want that. [The other option] was taking a chance on America. And I’d seen some costars try their luck in L.A. So I spent the next three years saving up and working on dialects, because I couldn’t do an [American] accent to save my life, and I went for door number two.

CT Wow…So when you started, did you have any fear of being typecast?

MR It wasn’t until after Wolf of Wall Street that a lot of similar roles started coming in. I realized, gosh, I’m going to have to do something very different, to kind of let people know I’m not going to keep playing the gold-digging wife forever. And it’s not that I don’t want to [ever play] a gold-digging wife—I had the best time playing [Naomi]. But I had exercised that muscle. I had come to understand her. I wanted to read a character, and think, “I have no idea how to do that.” I always want to feel a little bit scared when I take on a role. And to be pushing myself in some way. But before that, I just wanted to get any job. [My first real role] was on a TV show called Pan Am, and I shot that for a year, in New York. I was playing a very sweet, naive young woman experiencing the world for the first time, and having a blast. And I was maybe not as innocent as her, but I was definitely having the same sort of thing; like, wow, the world is so big and amazing, and I’m in New York City, it’s so crazy…My first time on a set, I wanted to know what everyone was doing, and why. I kept asking the DP, “What lens are you on, and why that?” Eventually he just brought me a book and was like, “Read that, it’s got all the answers!” It was so kind, and I still have the book. It was an interesting read, and answered a lot of my questions, so I’d stop bothering him...

CT Maybe that was it, but at what point did you feel that you wanted to produce your own films?

MR It’s a funny thing…I’ve spoken about this with some other actresses. Fame is such a weird thing. It has this way of coming on very quickly. And I felt very untethered by it. I was searching for different ways of taking control of my life, to get where I wanted to be. As a producer, you get to be a part of everything. And not just on set, but in the years it takes up to that point. I like exercising that business-savvy part of my brain—even doing the tax-incentive shit.

CT How long was it before I, Tonya came around?

MR That was the second film [we produced at LuckyChap]; we gave ourselves a manifest to begin with, and that was to tell female-driven stories and to work with as many first- and second-time directors as we could.

CT And what about that project made you say, “I have to do this”? Did you know about her [Tonya Harding]?

MR No, I had never heard her name. And I actually thought it was fictional. Like, okay, this gets a bit absurd in some places, people are going to think we’re taking the piss now. But the most absurd parts were absolutely all factual.

CT That’s so interesting that you knew nothing about her. To me, she feels like Elvis. And I imagine, if [the role] came to me, that’s how I would look at it. I think that’s maybe the key to why you tapped into an aspect of [the character] that didn’t feel sensational. You tapped into the emotional story of this woman who was struggling with a lot of shit. And she did terrible things, but her circumstances were also not great.

MR Yeah! It was perfect that I didn’t know about it. Because I had no preconceived notions. As an actor, the first thing is trying to understand her point of view. I’m reading lines that say, “Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world shits. For me it’s an everyday occurrence.” I read that and think, yeah, I agree! Why is everyone so hard on you? I don’t get it! So I’m really glad I didn’t know anything. It made it so much easier to understand her.

CT Do you remember the first time we met?

MR Yes! On a shoot, [a couple years back]. You were practically naked.

CT I had a lot [going on]. “She’s wearing a sheet, she’s got a toddler screaming and she’s gushing to an actress she wants to work with…” How strange is that three years later, I called you up about [Bombshell]?

MR Since we’re on that topic…Why did you think of me for this role? I never got to ask…

CT First of all, oh my god, are you insane? [It was] a no-brainer, Margot Robbie. But second of all, this is an ensemble cast; there’s not a lot of time for you to flesh out [your character]. We needed an actor who could really tap into all the emotions, economically and effectively. And you have done that in spades. [And from the moment you agreed to it] you were so committed to the project. You were doing it with us. What was it that made it so clear to you?

MR I mean, I could literally [repeat] everything you just said, because it was a no-brainer. The opportunity to work with you…I secretly just wanted to watch you produce. Like, I don’t know if I’m doing this right—handling the producing the acting, and life. It would be really nice to [watch someone else do it]. But more than anything, I wanted to be a part of this story, and I wanted people to experience Kayla’s experience. Which, as you see in [one] scene, is so hard to define. He assaults her without getting up from his chair. I thought that was something that people needed to see.

CT Margot. I love you.

MR I love you, too. You’re a great reporter.

CT How much do I get paid for this?

MR You get one jar of pickles.

Margot wears Chanel
Credits: Makeup: Pati Dubroff (Forward Artists) Hair: Diego Da Silva (Streeters) Manicure: Tom Bachik Production: Carly Louison (Serlin Associates) Digital technician: Jeanine Robinson Photo assistant: Daniil Zaikin Stylist assistant: Elliot Soriano Makeup assistant: Dom Thaysen Location: Milk Studios LA

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