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COVER STORY

BNE May/June 2015 |

7

S

ince frolicking nude with Leonardo

DiCaprio in

The Wolf of Wall Street

and

cavorting with con artist Will Smith in

Focus

, Margot Robbie has quickly become one

of Hollywood’s most in-demand young stars.

A string of new releases still to come over the

next 12 months will see her partnered with

more of the industry’s elite, including Tina Fey

in

The Taliban Shuffle

, as a thoroughly modern

Jane to Alexander Skarsgard’s

Tarzan

, and with

Smith once again in the DC Comics adventure

The Suicide Squad

.

While those films are slated to hit screens

in 2016, two more films waiting in the wings

for release dates later this year are the post-

apocalyptic

Z for Zachariah

(also starring Chris

Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the war-time

romance/drama

Suite Française

, starring Kristin

Scott Thomas and Michelle Williams. Phew!

Not surprisingly, Robbie says she’s enjoying

every moment of this time in her life. “I’ve

been working pretty much non-stop and it’s

been so much fun. I’ve been very lucky in

terms of working with some incredible actors

and even though it sometimes seems unreal

it’s also what I’ve spent years preparing for.

Now it’s a matter of taking advantage of these

opportunities,” she says.

They have come quickly since she left the set

of

Neighbours

four years ago but Robbie admits

she arrived in LA with a plan.

“While I was finishing out my contract

on

Neighbours

, I was saving my money and

working with dialect coaches to get my

American accent right, mainly hoping that

I could find enough work and live cheaply

enough so I wouldn’t have to move back [to

Melbourne]. Then

Pan Am

[a television series

cancelled after its first season] came along and

then

The Wolf of Wall Street

and suddenly you

know that you are going to be able to meet

the right people and not waste too much time

struggling in going to auditions and trying to

get people to notice you.”

Robbie is one of the growing number of

Aussie soaps alumni from Ramsay Street and

Summer Bay to join the big time in LA and

she’s not afraid to admit her acting roots.

“It’s like a rite of passage and clearly it’s a tried

and tested path boasting some huge success

stories,” she says.

Neighbours

was my schooling, I really learnt

so much and it annoys me when people say

how happy I must be to have ‘graduated up’, as

it were. Let me say, I was over the moon when

I landed

Neighbours

. It was the biggest thing

to happen in my life, so, so exciting. I never

thought I’d get to that level.

“Soaps are far more technical than one would

think. There’s so much happening around you

all the time, there’s so many people involved and

storylines, totally different from a movie in that

regard, and you have to be skilled to do that job.

There’s often so little acknowledgement for that.

We were shooting an episode a day. One whole

episode a day. A movie is shot over months. It’s

a crazy contrast.

“I pinched myself when I was working on

Neighbours

and I pinch myself where I am now.

They were all fantastic opportunities for me.”

Nevertheless Robbie’s audition stories are

becoming legend and seem to get her attention

for all the right reasons. First there was the

improvised slap she gave DiCaprio during her

audition for

The Wolf of Wall Street

.

“I do wonder sometimes what would

have happened had I not slapped him. I still

remember that stunned silence when I did it,”

she says, laughing.

As Robbie tells it, she was supposed to walk

away from the star but instead, “I just got

really into the moment and turned around and

smacked him and said, ‘F**k you!’ Once I did

it, I was like, ‘Well that was a terrible idea, but

at least I got to smack Leonardo DiCaprio.’ I

started apologising so much and he just laughed

and said, ‘Hit me again!’”

Even before that audacious move put Robbie

in the spotlight, her audition for

Focus

seemed

just as impetuous.

“I was on holidays in Croatia snorkelling,

swimming, lying on the beach, having a great

time and I’m walking back from the beach

about 6am after a swim and I get a call from

my agent saying, ‘You need to get to New York

now. Where are you?’ So I think, ‘I’m not going

to make this. This is crazy.’ But I manage to

get a boat back to the mainland, jump a flight

to New York with a five-six-hour stopover in

Paris. I’m trying to calm myself down on the

flight, ease the nerves, do all I can. Get into my

pyjamas, relax. Get to New York, my bags have

been lost ... the last thing I needed. So I’m in

New York, running around Top Shop grabbing

at racks, whatever I could pick up, and throw

on these clothes in the cab to the audition.”

It sounds like a heart-attack kind of moment

but Robbie laughs about it in the retelling.

“I was rattling. But I go in, meet everyone

and manage to hold it together and do what

I had to do and I get the part. I never for a

moment thought I had any chance. The list of

actresses before me was incredibly intimidating.”

It’s stories like these that are earning Robbie a

reputation as a likable raconteur, as entertaining

off screen as she is on, but then she started

performing at a young age.

“I was always performing for my Mum,” she

says, laughing (again!) “I spent a lot of time

watching videos and memorising scenes that I

would re-enact in the kitchen while my Mum

was wondering what I was going on about. But

that was my early training and I just kept at it. I

was always imagining myself performing ...”

She’s also smart and self-assured – qualities

that have not escaped

Focus

directors Glenn

Ficara and John Requa who also cast Robbie

alongside Tina Fey in

The Taliban Shuffle

. While

Robbie has been seen twice now as the sexy

blonde beauty in both Wolf and

Focus

, she’s

smart enough not to be typecast.

“I was lucky that I had a pretty glamorous

role in Wolf and that’s how most people saw

me for the first time, but I won’t take parts

where the female character has no substance and

nothing to offer.

“Even with Naomi [in

The Wolf of Wall Street

]

I made sure she had different layers and that

there was a lot more to her than what was in the

script when I first read it. But Marty [director

Martin Scorsese] and Leo were very supportive

of making her as strong as possible.”

In Taliban, due for release next year, Robbie

plays an ambitious reporter in competition

with Tina Fey’s character, journalist Kim

Barker, in a black comedy adaptation of

Barker’s war-time memoir of her time in

Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Also tipped for release next year is

Tarzan

,

another film that is likely to take its audience

by surprise. For a start you won’t be seeing

Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan or Robbie as Jane

swinging between the jungle vines.

“It’s set after so you won’t be seeing him

in the jungle, but there’s great action and a

love story and it was a lot of fun. I’m looking

forward to that coming out.”

Tarzan

was filmed in England where Robbie

now lives. “I prefer living in London although

I’ve spent a lot of time working in the US.

I have a good circle of friends in London ...

but I’m ready to go where the work takes me.

Even living in LA and New York has been an

interesting process for me because it’s a very

different kind of life from what I was used

to in Australia. There’s a lot more to do and

everything is much faster paced in those cities.

London is like that too but it has its own style

which I really like.”

Gold Coast-bred actor

Margot Robbie is

winning fans on both

sides of the camera as

she takes Hollywood

by storm

Words: Piers Manning and Fred Allen/The Interview People

Clockwise from top left, opposite page: Margot

Robbie in a scene with Leonardo DiCaprio in

The

Wolf of Wall Street

and at the film’s New York

premiere; in a scene with Will Smith in

Focus;

and

at the

Vanity Fair

Oscars after-party this year