Margot Robbie: A Hollywood actress living the dream

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This month we sat down with Margot Robbie, an Australian force of nature.

Since a blistering breakthrough in The Wolf of Wall Street only four years ago, the 27-year-old from the Gold Coast has ascended to the top of the Hollywood heap in record time. From Suicide Squad to Focus to Tarzan to her first Oscar nomination for I, Tonya, Robbie is an unstoppable force of nature… who still sleeps with her childhood stuffed bunny.

“I’ve had him since I was a baby and he’s called Bunny,” she snorts. “What can I say, I wasn’t a very imaginative child. But I still have him today. I still sleep with him. Every night.” It could be said her bond with Bunny was perfect research for Robbie’s latest roll as cute rabbit Flopsy in the big screen adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit.

 Taking on the title role, James Corden is the head of the family of carrot nibblers including Robbie’s Flopsy, Elizabeth Debicki’s Mopsy and Daisy Ridley’s Cotton Tail, who join together with our hero as he competes against Domhnall Gleeson’s Farmer McGregor for the affections of a kind animal lover who lives next door [Rose Byrne]. It’s a rip-roaring affair for all the family to enjoy, says the blonde superstar who equates the Rabbit’s family dynamic with that of her own family.

 In cheery, fun humour, Robbie chats about her upbringing and her shrewd moves as a child. She also chats about Peter Rabbit, her stalking tendencies, best friend Saoirse Ronan and the Oscars.

Margot lives in LA with husband, Tom Ackerley.

Together: Firstly, the lisp. Beyond cute! Was it your idea and did it come naturally?
Margot Robbie: No, it was in the script, I didn’t add that embellishment to Flopsy, I’d love to be able to take credit. [laughs]

Yea, it just sort of came naturally, it fit with her very cute, nervous energy. Who can resist a little cute rabbit with a lisp? And it fit with her need to stand out beyond her family and assert who she is. And I totally got that because I come from a big family, getting bossed around like Flopsy, I totally went through that. I’m not a middle child technically, though I am the third of four, so I’m in the middle, and I was always vying for attention with my brothers and sisters, and there were no shrinking violets in my family, everybody had a voice. A loud one. My poor mum, I don’t know how she did it. [laughs]

What was it like growing up in your family?
The usual. Bickering and snapping, fighting over the front seat, fighting over clothes, fighting over toys, just fighting as all good families do. But always loving each other. I loved it – I look back at my upbringing and it just makes me smile, we’ve all grown up so close. We’re really tight.

Are you particularly close with one member of your family?
Honestly, there isn’t one over another, we’re all very tight and have individual relationships but like, so unquestionably loyal, would do anything for each other. They’re my best friends. My older brother was like bossing me around, but I looked up to him, but my little brother, he was always like my sidekick so we still have that kind of sidekicky relationship. I think when you come back to your family, it’s like going back. It’s like no time has passed and you all regress, back twenty years, nothing changes. I love that.

And I think my favourite part of playing Flopsy was sort of reliving that dynamic again with Elizabeth and Daisy and James, it felt very close to home for me.

If you were a family of rabbits?
There are a lot of striking similarities. [laughs]

This is your third film with Domhnall Gleeson…
It’s getting a little weird. I feel like I’m stalking him [laughs]. The poor guy just wants to be left alone. He has really great taste, he knows a good script so when I hear he’s said yes, I immediately try to worm my way onto it too. I want in too.

But he had a little saving grace this time around in that we actually didn’t work together, he got some breathing space [laughs]. He was doing the live action stuff in Australia and I was stuck in a recording booth, so we never actually got to be around each other.

It was shot in Oz, and you didn’t get to go?
What are the chances? They were shooting in Centennial Park in Sydney and I’m in a recording booth in LA. That killed me.

How did you find the recording process?
I loved the booth, it was such a new experience for me and getting to just focus on my voice and conveying emotion and building that character without using my physicality was a really new thing for me, but I responded well. I want to do more.

And I loved doing something for kids but I’m so glad there’s all this humour for the adults too. Yes, this is a children’s movie, but I literally had my head back, cracking up watching it, it’s just the perfect movie for everyone, kids, mum dad, no kids, whatever. There’s no specific demographic.

What were you like as a kid?
I was really dramatic. Not in throwing tantrums, pulling my hair… well not much but I loved putting on shows, there was always a show in my house. I was obsessed with movies with anything on TV and whatever I saw, I would re-enact it for my mum who had enough on her plate running a house, looking after four kids and I’d be pulling at her leg, ‘Mum… mum watch my new show.’

I’d even make my family pay to watch my shows. Well specifically my magic shows. No kidding. I would make up a bunch of magic tricks, well they weren’t bad for a six-year-old. And then force them all to pay me to watch me do these tricks. And I would make them pay double if they wanted to know how I did the tricks [laughs].

How much?
Like 50 cents. But it added up.

What was your go to trick?
I used to make stuff disappear, that was my thing.

Like what?
Just anything really. I loved to see things disappear.

Sounds like you were a very shrewd kid?
Yeah, I like to think I was quite savvy. I remember stealing my older brother’s stuff and then setting up a stall down the road and selling it all, just terrible [laughs]

Congrats on the Oscar nom, how does it feel now having some time to sink in?
It still feels really unreal. Yeah, I can’t believe it, I can’t stop smiling when I talk about it. It’s yeah… and especially learning about the nomination when I was home with all my family, oh my God, was so magical. I get chills thinking about it.

It, timing wise, could not have worked out more perfect. Seriously. I was with all my family and we had just watched Tonya together for the first time, so everyone was on a high. I was floating, didn’t think it could get better. I had actually forgotten the nominations were being announced, and you know, the time difference, I had only flown in, I was all over the place. I was so tired and then I knew I had to get some sleep cos I had all this press to do for the movie.

And then we found out it was being announced. Our editor, she got it for I Tonya got a nomination, everybody was cheering and going crazy. Then Allison [Janney] got a nomination, oh my God, the best feeling in the world. And this was at the after party of the premiere and my friend plugged his phone into the speaker as they were announcing Best Actress and it was like ‘Saoirse Ronan, Ladybird – Margot Robbie…‘ We all went crazy. Screaming so loud. It was crazy!

How do you get your head around it?
You know. I’m hoping I don’t wake up from this, I still think it’s a dream.

You’re now forever going to be known as Oscar nominee, Margot Robbie – like over the titles!
Ahhh, that’s so weird [laughs]. It’s so weird.

And you’re going up against Meryl Streep!
That’s even weirder. It’s so wrong to mention our names together, c’mon it’s Meryl Streep. I don’t know what I’m doing there. I spoke to Saoirse and she was speaking about how great it was to have you in the mix because you’re so close.

Yeah, she is one of my best friends so it’s like, I know we’re going to have such a fun time just being in that experience.

Are you rooting for her in a way?
Of course, I’m rooting for her. She’s amazing.

Over everyone else?
I’m rooting for all of them. I root for every woman in this industry. I’m all about women.

But you really secretly want to win though? C’mon, be honest.
Look, I’m nominated, which is beyond weird to say that in itself. I’ve already won in my book. Being nominated, getting the film nominated is like winning for me, it means more people go to see it, it keeps the conversation going.

So, if you achieve nothing else in your career after this nomination…
It’s like, this cannot get any better. It feels amazing.