Profiles

Goodbye Christopher Robin’s Margot Robbie – a Profile

As Goodbye Christopher Robin hits cinemas, Mario Hernandez profiles star Margot Robbie...
When The Wolf of Wall Street premiered some years back, the slick and often disgusting spectacle of Leonardo DiCaprio doing drugs and swindling investors, just a few years after the 2009 global financial crisis, was stopped dead in its tracks by a stunning blonde who went toe to toe with the world’s hottest actor. All while not wearing any underwear.

That was our first introduction to Margot Robbie.

Since then she’s popped up in a flurry of films that have not only showcased her range, but have also insinuated her into global pop culture subconscience. She’s played a comic book psycho and a literary damsal with a taste for wild men, a conniving casino hustler and a woman trying to re-make her world following the apocalypse. Oh and she’s also the face of Calvin Klein’s fragrance, Deep Euphoria. If that’s not an indication of what to expect at the movies, I don’t know what is.

The fact is her journey from Gold Coast, Australia, to Hollywood stardom has been assured, if not surreal for Robbie. Acting certainly wasn’t her goal while growing up. After her parents divorce at a young age, she was raised by her single mother, a physiologist. Hers was a farming family, not a family of performers. Acting wasn’t even in the cards until she was given a walk-on role in a friend’s student film at sixteen. But like a sunrise, that role illuminated her new path. She enrolled in Somerset College to study acting.

Her first big break came on the longest-running soap in Australia, Neighbours. Alumni from that show are a who’s who of acting royalty from down under. They include some people you may have heard of like the Hemsworth brothers, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue. When Robbie decided to move to the U.S. for pilot season, the creators of Neighbours were gracious enough to write in her character going to New York for art school, in case she ever returned.

It’s unlikely she will. Robbie caught the eye of the network while auditioning for the new Charlie’s Angels, which she didn’t get. The network instead liked her for a new show about a group of what used to be called stewardesses, Pan Am. She was cast opposite Christina Ricci as Laura Cameron, the new girl from New York. The show quickly died.

But it was her appearance as another New York girl in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street that made everyone sit up and take notice. She effortlessly used a combination of her sexuality and cunning to raise herself to gilded Long Island queen status. The reviews of her performance in that film were universal raves. A gorgeous blonde who gave as good as she got in a Scorsese movie? That seemed familiar. Her performance naturally catapulted her into a holy trinity of Scorsese blondes alongside Sharon Stone (Casino) and Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull).

Comic book fans know her best, however, as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s lover in David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad. The character of Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel is a polarizing figure in her many incarnations. She’s a psychologist in Arkham Asylum who falls for the Joker and joins him as his partner in mayhem. The movie’s version, however, was a bridge too far for some fans. Despite her occasionally muddled accent, Robbie was the movie’s stand-out and a spin-off is in development now with Robbie on-board as producer.

On the personal side, Robbie recently married her longtime boyfriend, Tom Ackerley, an assistant director she met on-set of the World War II drama Suite Française in 2013. It is rumored that they’re looking to start a family. They’ve already started a production company together–LuckyChap Entertainment–that has some interesting sounding projects lined up.

Just a few weeks ago, the first of these, I, Tonya premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. The movie was picked up by an arthouse distributor with many critics wondering about the film’s ability to appeal to broad audiences. Robbie’s performance, in particular, was lauded for her ability to humanize Tonya Harding, whose life and role in the Nancy Kerrigan attack laid the foundation for the later and bigger media circus surrounding O.J. Simpson’s trial.

She’ll next appear in Goodbye Christopher Robin, the biopic of Winnie The Pooh creator A.A. Milne, out this weekend. She plays his wife. She’s also wrapped on Terminal, a Vaughn Stein thriller where she plays an assassin. And then after that, we’ll see Robbie playing the title character in Mary, Queen of Scots.

True to form, Robbie seems intent on forging her own path. She clearly throws herself into the characters she plays, as evidenced by her figure skating training for I, Tonya. And her mix of indie and tentpole roles indicates her desire to maximize her bankability while still tackling challenging and meaningful work.

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