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How well do you know ‘The Suicide Squad’ actress Margot Robbie?

There’s no denying that Australia churns out more than its fair share of A-list actresses. From the chameleonic charm of Cate Blanchett to the ephemeral elegance of Nicole Kidman, screen sirens from Down Under have found wider fame in Hollywood. Headlining among a new generation of Australian talent to make their mark on the red carpet of Tinseltown is Queensland-born Margot Robbie.

Having her start in showbiz with a three-year stint as Donna Freedman in the long-running Aussie soap, Neighbours – a show that catapulted other eventual stars like Russell Crowe and Liam Hemsworth to Hollywood – Robbie hit the big leagues with such blockbusters as The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Suicide Squad (2016) and I, Tonya (2017), for which she picked up an Oscar nomination. On her welcome return to the silver screen in a familiar role as DC Extended Universe supervillain Harley Quinn, we delve into some lesser-known facts about this talented thespian.

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Father from her Mind
Until roughly five years ago, all that was known about Margot Robbie’s father publicly was that he was a ‘former farm-owner’. It wasn’t until 2016 that Aussie magazine New Idea revealed his true identity: sugarcane tycoon Doug Robbie. Perhaps this oversight was deliberate on the actress’s part; after all, he abandoned her and three siblings when she was still a toddler. The two remain estranged to this day – it was her mother who walked her down the aisle when she wed British film producer Tom Ackerley – and when asked in an interview about the qualities she’d inherited from her dad, she fired back, “None. Nothing. I’m not like him at all.”

Margot the Maggot
Despite her status as a gorgeous Hollywood star today, Margot Robbie’s childhood classmates notoriously christened her “Maggot”, a nickname that stuck for years. Recalling this uncomfortable moniker, she has lamented, “‘Maggot’ started when I was five, in Grade One, and I detested it. By the time I was eight, I realised it wasn’t going anywhere so I embraced it, but when I moved to Melbourne [to begin acting], people started calling me it and I hadn’t even told them it was my nickname!”

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Slap in the Face
Playing the character of Naomi Lapaglia, wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, in The Wolf of Wall Street is undeniably the role that got Robbie noticed. But her method of landing the part was unusual, to say the least. It was her unscripted slapping of the Titanic leading man in an argument scene while auditioning that wowed director Martin Scorsese and landed her the role. Recalling her momentous decision, she said: “In my head I was like, ‘You have literally 30 seconds left in this room and if you don’t do something impressive nothing will ever come of it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance, just take it.’”

No More Nudity
For that same role, Robbie – who until this point had maintained a sweet, girl-next-door image – performed a sex scene atop a pile of money that required full-frontal nudity. But appearing in the buff was so uncomfortable for her that she even lied to her parents about the graphic scenes. In order to avoid any awkward embarrassment, she convinced them that CGI had been used to fit her head to another actor’s body. It’s no surprise, then, that when Hugh Hefner reached out to her to appear nude on Playboy for a substantial amount of money, she turned him down. Interestingly, the scene led to ‘a million paper cuts’, with the star quipping afterwards: “If anyone is ever planning to have sex on top of a pile of cash: don’t.”

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Trapeze Act
Whereas many young girls enjoy learning to dance, sing or play a musical instrument, fearless young Margot bucked the trend with a rather unusual passion – trapezing. At the age of just eight, she was enrolled by her mother in a circus school where she received a ‘trapeze certificate’. However, her love of acrobatics was soon replaced with an inclination towards acting. Years later, she began to have recurring dreams of flying through the air under the Big Top. “I couldn’t stop thinking about that stupid dream,” she recalled. “I feel like I missed my calling.” It was this sense of incompleteness that would eventually push Robbie to return to trapeze classes.

Drunk Tattooing
In addition to being a bona-fide trapeze artist, Robbie has also dabbled in tattooing. In fact, she even inked her Suicide Squad co-star Cara Delevingne and writer-director David Ayer. However, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she revealed that she’d given up the hobby after drunkenly tattooing a friend during a bachelorette party. “She walked down the aisle as one of the maids of honour in a backless dress and had this red, raw, scabbing tattoo and her mum was filthy with me … she was so angry and I thought, I really shouldn’t do this anymore,” laughed Robbie.

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Suicide Stunts
In a serendipitous coincidence, the actress’s circus skills would come in handy when she landed her now-iconic role as Harley Quinn. Always a competitive spirit, though, she took things even further by performing many of her own stunts when filming Suicide Squad, including an intense fight scene which required her to hold her breath for minutes on end. Ultimately, her record was a staggering five minutes, though only one minute’s worth was actually used in the final cut. Recalling the intense physical acting by one of his leads, Ayer commented: “She has ridiculous depth, and she’s never been coddled, so she’s very physically courageous. The things she was doing herself as stunts, you wouldn’t believe. There’s only a handful of actors who do that sort of work themselves.”

Quinn-tessential Mismatch
Interestingly, despite the role having cemented her status as one of Hollywood’s major players, Robbie was not enamoured with the character of Harley Quinn, particularly her psychopathic personality. “I thought, I have nothing in common with her. I hate her,” she later said. “It was a really tricky one to get my head around.” Thankfully, she bit the bullet and accepted the part. Not only did this lead to Suicide Squad raking in nearly US$750 million at the box office, it spawned a 2020 spin-off, Birds of Prey, focusing solely on Quinn. Building on this commercial success, she’s reprised the role for a third time in yet another standalone sequel – rather unimaginatively titled The Suicide Squad – which premiered last month. Clearly, regardless of whether she’s overcome her Harley ambivalence or not, Margot Robbie knows which side her bread is buttered on…

 

(Text: Tenzing Thondup)

2021-09-25T17:10:36+00:00 September 25, 2021|Entertainment|