Margot Robbie says acting is a ridiculous way to make a living

As acting icon Margot Robbie sits down with a small audience of guests for an intimate chat at central London’s BAFTA headquarters, she candidly recalls her journey through humble soap opera beginnings to global recognition as an acting enigma.

And it’s clear that after almost 30 blockbuster movies and nearly 10 yeas in Hollywood, the Aussie star, 32, still can’t quite believe her own luck.

"So many times I feel like it’s a ridiculous way to make a living," she laughs as she reflects on her acting career so far. "We’re getting paid to do this. It’s ridiculous and wonderful."

Next year will see the versatile powerhouse, who has enjoyed critical acclaim for six of her silver screen acting stints so far, will star in the highly anticipated Barbie movie, in which she plays the iconic doll opposite Ryan Gosling’s Ken.

So, it's still hard to believe that Margot was aged just 17 when she landed her first on-screen role as Donna in the much-loved soap Neighbours.

Admitting she now feels only pride for her Ramsay Street beginnings, she recalls, "I attribute so much of who and what I am now to being on Neighbours," she says. "I didn’t go to film school or drama school – I wish that I had – but I learnt on the job. I did three years, some of the greatest years of my life.

"It was like they were my university years and my last day on Neighbours was like graduating."

After 300 episodes, a then 20-year-old Margot felt her time on the soap had run its course and she set her sights on cracking Hollywood.

She asked her soap bosses to kill her character off "in a big spectacular death", but they refused, telling her they would keep the door open in case "it doesn’t work out in America".

Two years after leaving Melbourne, Margot made her feature film debut in Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy About Time, alongside Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams.

That same year saw Margot steal the attention of several big-name directors, including Martin Scorsese, who cast her as Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf Of Wall Street, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.

"I know this sounds silly now, knowing how big the movie became, but at the time I was like, ‘No one’s gonna notice me in this film. It doesn’t matter what I do in this film because they’re gonna focus on Leo and I’ll just slip under the radar,’" she says.

In 2014, she started her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, with the firm's first major production being biopic I, Tonya, famously focused on the life of controversial US figure skater Tonya Harding and the story surrounding the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.

"I had no idea that Tonya Harding was a real-life person," Margot admits. "I thought, ‘This screenwriter [Craig Gillespie] is off the charts, nuts – so specific and weird.’ And then I found out it was all true."

Drawing confidence from the positive reviews she received for I, Tonya, ambitious Margot wrote a letter to Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino, begging him to cast her in one of his upcoming movies.

"I always knew that being on a Quentin Tarantino set was a bucket-list thing for me," she says. "And I didn’t really feel that I was good enough until I saw I, Tonya. It was the first time I thought, ‘OK, I’m good enough to reach out to him.’"

In 2019, Margot’s wish was granted when Tarantino offered her the part of Sharon Tate in his comedy-drama Once Upon A Time In Hollywood alongside her old Wolf Of Wall Street pal Leonardo DiCaprio.

"I spent time with her [Sharon’s] sister," Margot discloses. "The interesting thing about playing Sharon was I wanted her to be exuding light and goodness, happiness. Playing her was like being on holiday every day. It was delightful."

Another learning curve came when, that same year, Margot landed a major role in Bombshell, a drama on the theme of sexual harassment, alongside fellow Hollywood actresses Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman.

Asked whether she believes movies such as Bombshell helped to shed light on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, she says, "I think it’s a big ship to turn around.

"But it’s definitely moving in the right direction, I feel. [Bombshell] was an interesting exploration, but it was definitely something I wanted to tap out of at the end."

Margot was speaking at BAFTA: A Life in Pictures with Margot Robbie supported by TCL.


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