While the star factories of Neighbours and Home and Away continue to churn out one Aussie actor of international acclaim after another, none arrived with quite so much of a splash as Margot Robbie.
After a B grade action schlocker called Vigilante and a small role in Richard Curtis’ Brit-weepie About Time, suddenly the 24 year old won a role that sent her rocketing to the top of all the hot lists as the trophy wife of Jordan Belfort (Leo DiCaprio) in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
If going from just another pretty face in the crowd to having one of the biggest actors of our generation crawling on the floor whimpering for access to her womanhood in just a few short years isn’t a meteoric rise, we don’t know what is.
Now she holds her own against another Hollywood heavyweight in Will Smith, playing conwoman-in-training Jess in Focus. And having just been cast as Harley Quinn (sidekick of The Joker) in DC’s Suicide Squad, all that’s left to wonder is how much higher this Gold Coast native can go.
What did you like about the story of Focus?
I’m a sucker for a love story, The Notebook and things like that. I love those films but at the same time I love heist films and action films, and [writer/directors] Glenn Ficarra and John Requa really found a way to incorporate every genre and make it work perfectly.
When I had my first meeting with them I watched I Love You Phillip Morris. I’d already seen Crazy Stupid Love and loved that film as well, but something about I Love You Phillip Morris really took me by surprise. It seemed incredibly original. It was a love story but in an unconventional setting and I found that fascinating. They were doing something different and pulling it off perfectly. I wanted to have a chance to work with them.
How was shooting in Buenos Aries, it’s a real character in itself in the movie?
The energy in that city was infectious. I wanted to stay up all night, it was so much fun. It was kind of instrumental to the way we ended up playing the scenes. You couldn’t help but have that seep into everything we were doing.
Ever been the victim of petty street crime?
I’ve been robbed a bunch of times, and now that I know how to pickpocket I understand why I’ve been pickpocketed so many times. I’m the perfect mark. I’m unobservant. I walk around, looking up at the sky with my bag open.
Was it fun learning how to do it for yourself?
It was so fun. One of the greatest things about being an actor is when you play a new character, you get to acquire a new skill, and this one happens to be a really cool one.
We hear you had an interesting audition.
I’d just flown in from Croatia. I’d been swimming right before knowing that I had to quickly rush to New York so my clothes were actually still damp. I had a pyjama top on and ripped shorts and my shoes were wet. I didn’t have my hair done or any make-up on or anything.
What was it like working with such a box office heavyweight like Will Smith?
He was everything and more than you could ever expect. There’s a handful of actors in this industry that have the reputation of being cool, down to earth people despite having a large profile. It’s really nice to be able to answer that question genuinely. He exceeded expectations that were set very high.
How was all the dressing up in such exquisite consumes and jewellery?
Oh, it’s so much fun. I can get really girly about this where you get to try on designer clothes, have professionals do your hair and makeup and make you look stunning.
It’s equally as fun on other films where you wear rags and have dirt painted under your nails and your teeth painted yellow. It’s part of the process and it’s integral to creating your character but for this film it was nice to get all dolled up.
What did your Aussie co-star Robert Taylor make of Will’s character Nicky’s joke about Australians?
That joke wasn’t even in the script. We threw it in because I really wanted to make an Australian joke. If anything my friends will get a kick out of it – when I’ve done TV I’ve sometimes thrown in personal jokes at my friends so they can have a laugh at home. Might not make sense to the masses but…
When I got to America the biggest joke I found was that apparently everyone in the world was laughing at Australia because, you know, you’re all convicts. You go to rainy old England and they sent us all to paradise.