Margot Robbie has said she didn’t know the definition of sexual harassment in the workplace before she made “Bombshell,” Jay Roach’s 2019 drama in which she follows the women at Fox News who denounced CEO Roger Ailes for his misconduct.
The actor talked about her career and experience in the film industry during a BAFTA Life in Pictures talk celebrating her career. At 32, she is the youngest subject of the event series to date. Robbie is in London as part of the press tour for Damien Chazelle’s ‘Babylon’, which will hit theaters at the end of this year.
Robbie discussed her “Bombshell” character Kayla Pospisil, the only fictional woman in the film alongside Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, saying the role was easy to shake because of the difficult subject matter. “As soon as I could stop being Kayla, I did,” she said. “It was definitely something I wanted to draw from at the end.”
Robbie explained that she signed up for the film to make up for her blind spots when it came to sexual harassment in the workplace. “I realized that – as a person with an established position in the industry, financially set up and self-sufficient – I didn’t know the definition of sexual harassment, and that’s shocking,” she revealed.
She said it “horrified her” how little she knew, and that “Bombshell” taught her that sexual harassment “thrives in the gray area” of the respective industries. “Roger Ailes or Harvey Weinstein, they take advantage of the area,” she added. “The situation is not black and white.”
Reflecting on the fact that she had only worked with a single female director on a feature film of her 20th big screen project – with ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ director Josie Rourke – Robbie said she sees no difference between men and women behind the camera and “couldn’t put it down to sex.”
“I would like to say that Josie has a certain insight as a woman, whatever she does, but on something like ‘Bombshell’ with a male director, [Jay Roach] is the most emotionally intuitive person I know,” Robbie said. “It didn’t work out any better because he’s a man, but every director has a totally different personality and process.”
Several other male directors were featured on Robbie’s Life In Pictures talk, including Martin Scorsese, whom the actor teamed up with at just 22 for her first big-screen role in 2013’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street” as Naomi Lapaglia. Robbie revealed that on set with Scorsese she only got one piece directing in six months.
“We talked all the time, he told stories about mobsters and old movie stars, but he didn’t really give direction,” Robbie said of the director. “The only bit of direction I got was in a scene where I’m throwing water, and I remember at one point he said, ‘Can you be more careful?’ And I didn’t know if he meant metaphorically, figuratively, or literally, as a spatial thing… and that was as far as the direction went.’
Margot Robbie also discussed the letter she wrote to Quentin Tarantino immediately after seeing her performance in “I, Tonya,” Craig Gillespie’s 2017 biopic of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding (whom the actor admitted she didn’t know he was a real person when they first read the script). In the letter, Robbie asked the “Pulp Fiction” filmmaker to cast her in one of his films – unaware that he would later consider her – and only her – for the role of Sharon Tate in “Once Upon A Time… into Hollywood”.
She said ‘I, Tonya’ was the first movie of hers where she thought, ‘Okay, I’m a good actor now. I’m ready to reach my idols,” and that working with Tarantino was “a bucket list thing” she’d put off because she “didn’t feel like I was good enough yet.”
Robbie recently worked with ‘La La Land’ filmmaker Chazelle on his explosive portrayal of Golden Age Hollywood, ‘Babylon’. She praised the director’s “broad knowledge” and called the shoot “thrilling and thrilling”, comparing Chazelle’s process in parts to the freedom Scorsese entrusts to his artists, while at other times she was “specific and technical and precise” used to be. The Australian actor plays Nellie LaRoy, an aspiring performer in the silent era who struggles to adapt. Robbie replaced Emma Stone who would star in the film until she departs in 2020. The film was shot for four months, from July to October 2021, after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Next year, Robbie will play Barbie in the first live-action photo of the Mattel property, released through Warner Bros. under Robbie’s production banner LuckyChap, alongside Mattel Films and Heyday Films. The actor and producer said she felt that “the only way the movie was worth it was to have the Greta Gerwig version,” referring to the film’s director and co-writer, along with Noah Baumbach . ‘Barbie’ will be released in theaters on July 21, 2023 through Warner Bros.