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December 1, 2018 — By

LOS ANGELES TIMES – From the moment she became queen of Scotland at 6 days old, the world never stopped scrutinizing Mary Stuart’s every move — or pitting her against Elizabeth I of England, the cousin whose throne she held a claim to by birth.

Executed at the age of 44, implicated in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth that historians debate to this day, it was her enemies who would write Mary’s legacy. So in the turbulent years of her controversial life, contemporaries wonder, who was the real woman known as Mary, Queen of Scots, and what led to her tragic undoing?

Put another way in director Josie Rourke’s forceful new biopic, “Mary Queen of Scots”: What if Mary and Elizabeth could’ve just sat down together and worked things out?

It’s a notion that occurred to Rourke, star Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”), who plays the titular Scottish queen, and Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”), who plays Mary’s cousin and political frenemy Queen Elizabeth I.

You don’t know how many times I thought, ‘If they just called out for coffee at the beginning of this movie … it would have been so different!’” said Robbie with a laugh, reuniting in Los Angeles with Rourke and Ronan for the first time since filming the period drama.

Cheekily, Ronan agreed. “Let’s just go to Starbucks,” she added, channeling Mary, Queen of Scots, by way of a flawless Valley girl accent. “Have a blueberry muffin, sort this … out …

Filmed on location 430 years after Mary’s grisly execution, “Mary Queen of Scots” brings the monarch’s story to life with a distinctly feminist aim, focusing on the defining years of the charismatic young Catholic queen with a fierce Ronan in the lead role.

Backed by the producers of the Oscar-winning “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” which starred Cate Blanchett, and scripted by “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon, the Working Title and Focus Features film is part political thriller, part chamber drama. It marks the film directing debut of theater veteran Rourke, who also serves as the artistic director of London’s Donmar Warehouse theater.

In its humanistic portrait of the two women, the film suggests that the headstrong Mary and the fearful Elizabeth might have bolstered each other and even found solace in their shared challenges had politics, religion and male advisors on both sides not kept them at odds.

I think there was so much that they could have met in the middle on if they could have been allowed to sit down together,” said Ronan. “But of course, that was the reason they were kept apart. It served the men around them.

It was enough of a battle for Mary and Queen Elizabeth I, Europe’s only female rulers, to keep their thrones and their heads; to follow their hearts freely was another matter entirely. The constraints of Mary’s station and the machinations of men, Rourke’s biopic argues, meant her life was never entirely hers to live.

Marriage, babies, religion,” Ronan mused. “Everything was a pawn. Everything you wore. Everything you said.

The Irish Oscar winner had been attached to a Mary, Queen of Scots, project for years, drawn to the idea of playing a rare figure in cinema — a Celtic queen. But when she began diving into research with Rourke at the helm, using historian John Guy’s biopic “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” as a guide, Ronan said, “it became incredibly current.

Married at 15 to the future King of France and widowed three years later, the film finds Mary, age 19, returning home to Scotland to reclaim her throne — only to be drawn into bad marriages, worse husbands and a never-ending series of conspiracies hatched by enemies intent on snatching her crown.

Meanwhile over in England, her cousin Elizabeth struggles with similar anxieties, under pressure to marry and bear a successor to her crown — but remains terrified of making any life choices that might lead to her own deposition.

Elizabeth’s very early life, living in fear of her life — this is what today would be considered, frankly, child abuse, also putting aside the fact that her father executed her mother,” said Rourke. “If she was alive now she would be in therapy for 14 hours a day.

The indivisibility between their sexual and romantic lives, their bodies and power … one of the things that stuns me is that even these two women, who are crown heads of Europe, have to fight for the right to make the choices they want to make with their bodies,” added Rourke.

At first, Robbie admits, she hesitated to take on the role of Elizabeth, whose personal insecurities lead her to tread cautiously with Mary, the only other reigning queen on the scene who by birth has a rival claim to England’s crown.

I probably wasn’t listening in school because I seemed to skip all the Renaissance period,” the Australian star joked. “Initially when Josie and I spoke about the project I said, ‘I think you should hire an actress who has a degree or a master’s in history, because it ain’t me.’

But,” the actress smiled, “she made a really good case.

Robbie signed on and began devouring historical material about Elizabeth and the Renaissance era. “In my head that’s like, gilded halls and old white-headed people, and it sounded really boring to me — and then Josie starts speaking about it, John Guy started telling me about it and it was just this explosion of color and life,” said Robbie.

There was the medieval period, grim and gray, and suddenly trade lines open up and there’s music and color and materials and food coming from all over the world — and there are teenagers running empires!Robbie added. “I just never thought about this time period like this.

It was paramount to Rourke that she cast her historical drama with diversity in mind, selecting Gemma Chan to play Elizabeth’s lady in waiting Bess of Hardwick, Ismael Cruz Cordova in the heartrending role of Mary’s private secretary David Rizzio, and Adrian Lester as England’s ambassador to Scotland, Lord Randolph.

This is partly because of my background in theater, but I was really clear with Working Title and Focus, and they were very supportive, that I was not going to direct an all-white period drama,” explained Rourke. “That’s it. It’s just not a thing I was going to do. It’s not a thing that I do in theater and I don’t want to do it in film.

Bess of Hardwick, as played by “Crazy Rich Asians” actress Chan, “is such a badass,” Robbie volunteered. “She should have her own movie. She had like six husbands who all mysteriously died, a.k.a. she probably murdered them and then she’d go and marry a richer one! We actually shot in one of her castles.

Look at Adrian Lester,” Rourke said of the Olivier Award-winning actor and OBE recipient. “He knows more about Shakespeare than most academics. It’s ridiculous that part of his heritage as an English classical actor doesn’t get translated to screen. Why miss out on that talent and the ability of those amazing actors to tell their stories?

Blending handsome production design with out-of-the-box execution — much of the film’s period dress was crafted from denim by costume designer Alexandra Byrne, who won the Oscar for 2007’s “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” — the film paints Mary as not only a confident and clever strategist but, socially speaking, radically inclusive.

As political walls close in around her she finds comfort and support in her loyal coterie of handmaidens and lone male confidant Rizzio, whose homosexuality Mary embraces even when he betrays her trust. They are, in today’s parlance, as Ronan put it, “her hashtag-squad.”

That’s not to say young Mary doesn’t have plenty of growing pains along the way. Brushing off pressure from her advisors to marry for political gain, she marries the first guy she falls for. Ultimately, Mary must navigate her own ego as it becomes clear that the only ally she might have in the world is Elizabeth.

You have to remember, she’s a girl. She’s a 19-year-old girl. She’s the same age as, like, Lorde!” Ronan exclaimed, comparing Mary, Queen of Scots, to the “Royals” singer. “It was really important to see these two women kind of go head to head, but it was also lovely to see them both with their own women in their private lives too.

While historians agree the two queens likely never met in person, even as Mary fled Scotland and sought refuge in England under her cousin’s protection, “Mary Queen of Scots” builds toward a cathartic construction that also marks Ronan and Robbie’s sole shared onscreen moment.

Even though they only meet once in the movie, they’re so present in each other’s imaginations,” said Rourke, who deftly directs a fictional covert countryside meeting between the two women whose juxtaposed lives intersect in the film’s most electric sequence.

To prepare for the meaty 12-page scene, the actresses avoided each other on set during filming so that their first moment laying eyes on the other would be captured on-screen.

“It was my first scene and Margot’s last scene, and it was the scene that I had drilled the most before we started rehearsals,” remembered Ronan. “We rehearsed it once for an hour before we started shooting, and it just felt right straight away. We knew what this was. I got to explore who Mary was, every aspect of her and every shade.

Likewise, doing that scene made the movie the experience it was for me, and the moments leading up to that define Elizabeth,” agreed Robbie. “I think she lacked the courage to stand up and do and say some of the things that Mary actually did … I think she both admired her for that, and was scared for her.

When they finished the scene, the two stood in a lengthy embrace. “I remember we said afterward, ‘I’ve had you in my head the whole time — you’ve been there with me,’” said Ronan, turning to Robbie. “And when I went off to do the rest of the film she was there, I had a little Margot on my shoulder.

Humanizing these legendary heads of state reminds us that figures like Mary were people too, they say. Monarchs — they’re just like us! That’s what I love about ‘Veep,’” raved Ronan of the HBO series. “It’s so genius because it’s like, ‘Oh, they are just people. And they are [messing] up every day. They are making mistakes all the time.’”

Mary and Elizabeth’s stories resonate even more strongly through a modern lens, added Ronan, pointing to how two of the most prominent women leading European politics today are scrutinized.

It’s such a timely story right now especially in the U.K. because you’ve got Nicola Sturgeon up north and you’ve got Theresa [May] down south,” she said. “You’ve got these two women that are very, very different standing for very different things, but they’re strong and they’re doing their thing. To have a film like this come out now is so perfect.

Telling the political and emotional truths of women like Mary and Elizabeth in ways never before tackled on stage or screen is entirely the point, suggested Rourke, who said her work in theater shares the same goal of bridging lessons of the past with issues of today.

I’ve done a ton of Shakespeare plays, and we would never look at an old play and not try and work out how that speaks to the present,” said Rourke. “And I think sometimes an old story is the best way to talk about what is happening right now.

Gallery Links

Photoshoots & Portraits > Photoshoots in 2018 > #019 Los Angeles Times

December 1, 2018 — By

A new stunning photoshoot of Margot Robbie was released! She was interviewed and photographed for Poter Magazine, which she talks about her upcoming movies and projects. Read below:

The Oscar-nominated A-lister – who stars as Elizabeth I in new movie Mary Queen of Scots and is currently filming with Quentin Tarantino – shines in roles that are raw and unreserved. VASSI CHAMBERLAIN meets the most down-to-earth and determined actress in town. Photography YELENA YEMCHUK. Styling CAMILLE BIDAULT-WADDINGTON

From the moment Margot Robbie walks into République on South La Brea in Los Angeles – speeding through the early-morning crowd like a blond bullet – it’s clear who rules her roost. Maybe it’s her age, a millennial 28. But there’s more. The messages I get from her team asking what I look like, what I’m wearing, where I’m sitting, if I’m OK waiting a couple of minutes longer than scheduled, coupled with her immediately apologizing for the delay, even before she sits down, and then apologizing again how she feels terrible she won’t be asking me any questions – as in, having a normal conversation like regular human beings do – is unusual. It turns the attention onto you, the interviewer, rather than Robbie, the star, and in Hollywood, that is as rare as rocking-horse manure.

Robbie tucks into my breakfast. It’s OK, I tell her she can. I had half-offered to pick hers up from the counter when she arrived (we are at the very back – as requested by her team – of a very large space that used to be Charlie Chaplin’s studio, and where there is no table service), but because she’s a millennial she can hear my thoughts and says absolutely not. And because I am not a millennial I immediately push my plate of ricotta French toast with seared peaches, pomegranate and toasted nuts, towards her. Eat mine, I say. I like that she’s eating my breakfast. Not many actresses would.

There is something very sweet-natured and endearing about Robbie – the way her demeanor rearranges itself into ‘serious Margot’ when my questions start; how she sits up straighter and eagerly looks me in the eye. “You are here to do your job,” she says, “and I respect that.” She’s also a natural grafter. When she was growing up in Gold Coast, Australia, young Robbie, like children the world over, sold lemonade on the street with her friends. Unlike most kids, she was fierce with the pricing. When I ask her how her mother would describe her, she says “determined”. I would also add, ridiculously pretty. But leaving it at that doesn’t paint the whole picture of someone who also unexpectedly oozes class. There’s nothing specific – she’s in a loose pale-beige linen salopette, white vest and patterned damask slippers with two thin gold chokers, wound tightly around her neck, and twisted hoop earrings – she just possesses that undefinable, un-buyable, it.

Looks aside, few would disagree that she is an exceptional actress, who increasingly surprises with her role choices – her comic and satisfyingly satirical take on US figure-skater Tonya Harding in 2017’s I, Tonya (which she also produced) scored her the trifecta of Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Actress. And she surprises again with her new movie, Mary Queen of Scots, in which she plays an initially thoughtful but increasingly hardened and uncompromising Elizabeth I, to Saoirse Ronan’s softer and more renegade Mary. As with I, Tonya, her MQOS character is ugly-fied to a degree that will enrage those viewers who still haven’t recovered from that scene in The Wolf of Wall Street, where, sitting on the floor of a child’s nursery with her legs slowly parting, she exquisitely taunts Leonardo DiCaprio with the words: “Mommy is just so sick and tired of wearing panties.

Transmogrifying roles are a well-worn territory for serious actresses who use them as a means to subvert the distraction of their beauty but highlight their acting chops. Critics fawn over them, less so the box office, and that has, at times, alienated a star’s appeal. Not Robbie, who innately understands that while it’s OK to mutate into someone other than yourself, at least do it in a movie that everyone is going to love. And MQOS is just that, with its retelling of a story where the two central characters are women, and which feels modern and powerful but also sweetly engaging. It is presumably why she jumped at the chance to play Elizabeth I, although she says that the thought of taking on such a role initially made her feel surprisingly nervous. “She [Elizabeth I] is an incredibly iconic and historic figure. She’s been portrayed on screen by some of the world’s greatest actresses, including Cate Blanchett and [Dame] Judi Dench. Who am I to think that I could join that legacy? So initially I thought, ‘No chance, no way.’ I didn’t think I could pull it off.” She pauses, and laughs. “The movie hasn’t been released yet, so that’s still to be determined…

When I first sat down with my team in America and they asked me what I wanted out of my career, I said: ‘Pie in the sky? Tarantino’

One of the attractions for her was working with Saoirse Ronan. The pair had met at a dinner party at Richard Curtis’ house, and immediately got on. “I remember thinking, she is so freaking cool. And intelligent and grounded and fun. I had a major girl crush on her from that moment on.” The pair only meet on screen towards the end of the movie as they operate from separate courts. The person she has more scenes with is Elizabeth’s would-be lover, Robert Dudley, played by Joe Alwyn. I tell her I only realized later he was Taylor Swift’s boyfriend. “I know,” she says, “I didn’t know they were together either.” We both agree how handsome he is.

She’s currently working on Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – set for release in July 2019 – in which she plays Sharon Tate (the wife of Roman Polanski who was murdered by the Manson Family), and which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Not bad. “Yeah but I’m barely on set with them,” she says, giving less away than I’d hoped. Of Tarantino, she can’t say enough. “That’s a life goal,” she says. “When I first sat down with my team in America and they asked me what I wanted out of my career, I said: ‘Pie in the sky? Tarantino.’ Everyone asks me: ‘How is it? How is he on set?’ I’ve been on sets for pretty much the last 10 years and I still walk on and think, ‘This is soooooooo coooool! Look at that! That’s amazing! Oh my gosh!’ I’m like a kid in a candy shop and then Tarantino walks on and he’s got the same, if not more, enthusiasm and he’s so excited. It’s his film set and he’s not jaded at all – he’s just so happy to be there.

One of the first things she asked the Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director was if she should be wearing fake bosoms. “I’m very flat-chested,” she says, pointing downwards, “and Sharon Tate was not. So I asked [Tarantino]: ‘Any fake-boob situation?’ and he said, ‘No, it does not change the character.’” Did she contact Polanski to speak about his wife? “No, I didn’t, but he wrote a book and there’s so much detail in there that I actually didn’t need to.

It’s fair to say that her ascent since she first arrived in LA for pilot season in 2011 has been fast. The then 20-year-old had completed three years on long-running Australian soap Neighbours, and was hoping for a role on that year’s Charlie’s Angels TV reboot, but instead was hired on one-season wonder Pan Am, alongside Christina Ricci. Small roles followed in Richard Curtis’ About Time and an adaptation of Irène Némirovsky’s book Suite Française. But it was Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street that altered everything. Since then, the roles have kept coming: The Legend of Tarzan, Suicide Squad, Goodbye Christopher Robin, a scene-stealing cameo as herself in The Big Short, and the ultimate accolade, hosting the season premiere of Saturday Night Live alongside The Weeknd.

One can only imagine what Hollywood made of the young Australian when she pitched up with her business-like plan. She says she has her Australian agent to thank for preparing her well. Perhaps, but what also strikes is not just her ambition, or the foregone conclusion of her success, but an innate self-awareness of who she is, what she wants and how she’s going to go about it. It’s something she makes sure her team remembers at their six-monthly check-ins, which revolve around her mantra: Quality, Variety and Longevity. “We ask: ‘Are we heading towards that, or are we starting to veer off a little?’ And sometimes we are, so it’s good to have those chats, to course-correct, check in and be like, ‘OK cool, let’s get back on track.’

It’s tempting, at face value, to put her down as yet another balls-to-the-wall, ambitious narcissist, but unless I’ve been royally played, I’d say that’s not Robbie at all. Sure, she’s a good actress, but she’s also a well-mannered, grounded person who wants a decent career, someone for whom money is not the be all and end all. She’s also quick to laugh at herself. “I say fake it till you make it, because everyone’s pretending they know what they are doing and almost everyone doesn’t.” She pauses and smiles. “It’s Monday morning and here I am dishing out pearls of wisdom.”

I say fake it till you make it, because everyone’s pretending they know what they are doing and almost everyone doesn’t

That she is so comfortable in her own skin speaks volumes about what she says was a very happy childhood with her three siblings in Gold Coast. Her parents divorced when she was young and the family lived with her physiotherapist mother by the sea. She rails against those who try to portray her as a girl from the outback who came from nothing. “I had the best upbringing,” she says. “I know that I can get by with very little money. I know how to do it. I’ve done it and I’m not scared of it.

It seems that upbringing has also stood her in good stead in her relationships both with men and women. Her love life has always been a frustration for the tabloid press because she’s always been a one-trick pony. Her decision to marry Brit Tom Ackerley at 26 seemed unexpected for an actress in the ascendant. “I always thought, ‘Urrgghhhh, being married sounds really boring.’ I thought I might bite the bullet in my late thirties and see how it goes.” But then she met Ackerley, on the set of Suite Française. He was third assistant director, and she was third on the billing after Michelle Williams and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Rather than schmooze with the stars, she hung out with the crew on set. They all got on so well that they invited her to move into the house they shared in Clapham, an unremarkable middle-class London suburb. After a year, she and Ackerley ’fessed up to their roommates that they were secretly dating. It upset the laid-back but delicate eco-system of the house. She jokes that warfare nearly ensued but soon settled down, and rather than move out, the couple stayed in the house. It’s only since moving to Los Angeles two years ago that they finally live alone.

The pair have set up their own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, with two of their original London flatmates. I, Tonya and this year’s Terminal were both produced by Ackerley. “I’m a great advocate of doing business with your partner,” she says. “Being married is actually the most fun ever, life got way more fun somehow. I have a responsibility being someone’s wife, I want to be better.” They operate a three-week rule when apart. “Even if we both have to fly to a country in-between where we both are for one night, we’ll do it and then fly back to work the next day. And we speak all day, every day on the phone.

When the inevitable subject of babies comes up, her response is immediate and unequivocal. “No! Definitely not,” she says, laughing. What about Ackerley, does he feel the same? “Three days ago my husband stopped by a dog shelter on the way back from the airport, and we now have a pit-bull puppy,” she says. “We already have a two-year-old [dog] who still acts like a puppy. I love him but he’s a handful, and for the last three days I haven’t slept. I’m like, ‘We’re fostering her for the week,’ and my husband’s saying, ‘No! We’re keeping her.’ And I’m saying, ‘We absolutely cannot and if anything, you are now cementing in my mind that we cannot have kids. I can’t cope with two puppies, let alone children!’” She should be careful, I warn her, it always starts with a pet. She pauses and looks up at the ceiling. “If I’m looking into my future 30 years from now, I want to see a big Christmas dinner with tons of kids there,” she says. “But definitely not at the moment. That’s 100 percent certain.

Her conversation is peppered with mentions of her girlfriends: Australians she was at school with since the age of five; her London Clapham gang, which also includes boys (“The second we land, everyone will be at the pub, people will leave work the minute they can. We even go on group holidays”); and a New York group, too. And it speaks to her emotional security. “I can show you my phone,” she says, picking it up. “It gives me palpitations, I have 80-something unread text messages right now, 500 WhatsApps and 300 emails…” Close girlfriends include two of the British Delevingne sisters, Poppy and Cara, also both actresses. She went to Glastonbury with the latter, who she met on the set of Suicide Squad. “I’m the most boring person on the planet compared to those two,” says Robbie. “Cara would say, ‘I’m going to this mud-wrestling thing tonight.’ And I’m like, ‘I have a meeting at 7am, I can’t go mud-wrestling – it’s a Wednesday night!’ Talking about them is making me miss them so much. I’m gonna call Cara straight after this.

I don’t like how cynical fame has made me. Every time someone does something nice, there is a voice in my head wondering, ‘Are they being nice to me because they like me or are they being nice because they want something from me?’

Fame is, of course, now her life. I suspect she chose to meet in a less obvious restaurant on purpose, rather than somewhere splashier. “It’s just a strange thing – there’s no other way of putting it.” She says there are good parts and bad parts, that she’s constantly adapting because the level of fame constantly changes. “Your relevance in the current conversation changes; sometimes you’re in everyone’s face, other times you’re not. There are moments when you feel the heat, then it cools off a little bit and you can breathe, and then something comes out of left field and totally side swipes you. So you’re kind of on your toes trying to keep your head above water, I guess.” She says that when she’s in Australia she feels a sense of responsibility to stop for selfies and have a chat. “I know what that means [to them]: ‘Oh, I’ve seen a person from the place where I grew up, and now they’ve gone on to do this and now it seems possible for me too.’ And that’s a special thing.

But what about when she has no control of the situation, when she doesn’t feel a duty to stop for every photo. How does that play with her? “I hate people taking pictures without asking; it’s the grossest feeling and it happens all the time. Everyone’s got a phone with a camera on them at every second of the day in every part of the world.” Presumably, she now feels a need to be camera-ready at all times. She disagrees. “My view is that for some people, it’s part of their brand to look a certain way. I’ve been in hotels where I’ve run into someone the morning after an awards ceremony and I know they were out, and they are ‘on’ – full face of makeup, full blowout and perfect outfit. That’s their brand.” So what’s hers? “I want people to see me as an actor. I am not a model.

Maybe not, but she regularly appears on magazine covers and is considered one of the best-dressed actresses in the world. She is the face of Calvin Klein scent Deep Euphoria, and Chanel announced her as an ambassador to the brand earlier this year. Her look today – her chin-length bob is waved, her makeup discreet – would be catnip for a street-style photographer. Is she into fashion? “Not hugely. I appreciate it as an art form but it’s not my passion.” She tackles red-carpet dressing with the help of stylist Kate Young, who also looks after Sienna Miller and Natalie Portman. But similar to how she chooses her roles, she steers the ship. “I let them do their thing and I then speak to the bigger picture. I say, ‘I want this vibe and I want to give this impression; now I’ll listen to you as to how we can achieve that.

It must be tricky gauging what people think about you – both professionally and personally – of the conversation and surrounded by people paid to say yes. “You’ve got to check yourself,” she says, nodding. “But I don’t know if I’d be subject to turning into a complete monster.” Has she seen a difference in her character since she’s become more famous, is she more spoilt, does she get angry, have tantrums? “The difference is I don’t like how cynical fame has made me,” she says. “And it upsets me because I’ve always been such a blind optimist. Always. But with every year that goes by it diminishes.” Can she define what she is cynical about? “People’s intentions,” she replies. “And that’s a sad thing – I don’t know how to undo that because you just can’t help it. Every time someone does something nice, there is a voice in my head wondering, ‘Are they being nice to me because they like me or are they being nice because they want something from me?’ It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member or a complete stranger, that voice in your head is always there and I hate that voice so much, questioning someone’s good intentions. But I’d rather be f****d over and still have a positive view of the world than be this cynical, sheltered, negative person who never gets f****d over. I’d rather get f****d over 10,000 times and still believe the best in people. So a couple of years ago I just stopped and said to myself, ‘Yes, you’re gonna get screwed over, you’re gonna get your feelings hurt, people will be taking advantage. But, for the sake of your happiness and sanity, presume the best in people.’” It’s an exceptionally mature and emotionally intelligent way of looking at life. It strikes me, not for the first time in our conversation, how utterly different she is to many in her industry.

As far as professional criticism is concerned, she says she reads online reviews but avoids tabloid-centric platforms. What does she think the industry thinks of her work? “I often wonder that,” she says. “You know when you’re with friends and you’re like, ‘OK, what movie are we gonna watch?’ And then someone mentions a movie and everyone says, ‘Errr no, I can’t stand that so-and-so on screen, I just wanna kill myself, they’re awful!’ I wonder how many people out there think, ‘I cannot watch a film with… I hate that Margot Robbie.’ So yes, I do wonder how I irritate people, or if I do an interview, they’ll say, ‘Urggghhh, she’s so this or so that.’”

I didn’t know what constituted as sexual harassment until the #MeToo movement. I’m in my late twenties, I’m educated, I have my own business, and I didn’t know. That’s insane. I didn’t know you could say, ‘I have been sexually harassed’, without someone physically touching you

Of course, there is only one topic in Hollywood at the moment. Has she ever experienced sexual harassment? “Yes!” she immediately replies. “But not in Hollywood. I struggle to find many women who haven’t experienced sexual harassment on some level. So yes, lots of times. And to varying degrees of severity throughout my life.” Her mother would forward her articles about the dangers of backpacking before she set out with her friends. “She’d say to me, ‘Bye honey, have a lovely trip – and here’s an article that might be useful to you, you know, on how not to get raped.’ I’d be like, ‘Thanks Mum, bon voyage!’” But a year on, does she think that things have changed for the better? “Definitely, definitely.” How? “In terms of people viewing it as a problem that they can say no to. Or even calling it a problem. I’ve said this before, but I didn’t know what constituted as sexual harassment until the #MeToo movement. I’m in my late twenties, I’m educated, I’m worldly, I’ve traveled, I have my own business, and I didn’t know. That’s insane.” Surely she must have been aware when a boundary was being overstepped. But she’s making the distinction, I think, between intimidation and actual physical assault. “I didn’t know that you could say, ‘I have been sexually harassed’, without someone physically touching you, that you could say, ‘That’s not OK.’ I had no idea. I now know because I’ve researched what constitutes illegal sexual harassment so as to have negative connotations for your job and how you get paid.” But more than that she won’t say.

On the day we meet, news breaks that Robbie is in talks to play a movie version of Barbie. Really? “Oh yeah, that,” she says. “That wasn’t meant to get announced. It’s still being figured out, hopefully it will all come together.” And if she had to say anything? “It would be something boring like, ‘I’m excited about this potential partnership with [the toy-manufacturing company] Mattel.’” I wonder where that project figures in her mantra. It seems an odd choice, but then again she is not stupid, so she’s either doing it for commercial reasons, or maybe she just loves the idea of being Barbie.

Before she leaves, I ask her about filming that scene in The Wolf of Wall Street. She laughs. “It doesn’t come across when you’re watching the movie, but in reality we’re in a tiny bedroom with 30 crew crammed in.” Mostly men? “All men. And for 17 hours I’m pretending to be touching myself. It’s just a very weird thing and you have to bury the embarrassment and absurdity, really deep, and fully commit.” And no one can argue she didn’t do exactly that.

The timer on her phone goes off and she leaves as she arrived, in haste, with purpose and another apology. “Again, I’m sorry…” she says, as she picks up her small tan cylindrical bag off the floor. “The conversation was very one-sided. Hopefully I’ll see you again and we’ll actually get to chat.” With that, one of Hollywood’s most bankable and likable stars disappears into the unknowing crowd. And I finish off what Margot Robbie didn’t of my breakfast.

Mary Queen of Scots is released on December 7 (US); January 18 (UK)

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November 15, 2018 — By

Margot Robbie is featured in the December/January issue of Harper’s Bazaar! We have added the beautiful outtakes from the issue along with the cover to the gallery! We will add scans as soon as we get the issue!

The actress talks launching her own production company and the “alienating” experience of making her latest movie.

There were days when Margot Robbie would walk out of the makeup trailer on the set of her new film, Mary Queen of Scots, and castmates couldn’t bear to look at her. I’d say, ‘Hey, how’s your weekend?’ ” says the 28-year-old actress, in her best exaggeration of her native Australian Gold Coast accent. “But they wouldn’t even get close to me. It was very alienating. And I felt very lonely. It was an interesting social experiment.

Her transformation into Queen Elizabeth I, who was scarred by smallpox as a young woman, took three and a half hours of intensive hair and makeup every day. “They’d start with a head wrap,” says Robbie. “Gelling and pinning my hair down. Then we’d do a bald cap.” There were different wigs for different stages of the story and her illness, one that was very thinning, and prosthetic scarring applied to her face. “Surprisingly, the quick part was the white makeup,” she says. “And the heavily drawn-on blush, eyebrows, lips.

Such a transformation was no small feat, considering that the actress got her big-screen break playing a character described as “the hottest blonde ever” in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 drama, The Wolf of Wall Street. But Robbie, who currently serves as a face of Chanel, refused early on to be typecast by her beauty. “When I was trying to make my name as an actress, creative roles for women were limited,” she says of her decision to form her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, in 2014. “I didn’t want to pick up another script where I was the wife or the girlfriend— just a catalyst for the male story line. It was uninspiring.

Interestingly, Mary Queen of Scots isn’t the first time Robbie has taken on a role that required her to actively make herself look worse on-screen. After all, who can forget the curled bangs, black eyeliner, and braces she donned to play disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya? “Margot is a very, very good actor who takes her work incredibly seriously,” says costar Saoirse Ronan, who plays Queen Mary in the film. “I don’t think looks even factor into it. Even when she has a glamorous role, she’s got this brilliant, strong presence, and part of that is because she’s a very sincere and authentic person. She’s very open. What you see is what you get.

Fearlessly shaking off her beauty and diving headlong into complex characters has clearly paid off for Robbie, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in I, Tonya (which LuckyChap produced). And she now has roughly a dozen projects in various stages of development, including a thriller called Dreamland(also produced by her company), a Suicide Squad spin-off in which she will lead an ensemble of female superheroes, and a number of women-led television projects. “When we set out to create our company, it was sort of a new idea, but then in response to the #MeToo conversation it was all that anyone was talking about. People were like, ‘Why don’t we make movies for women?’ Uh, what a revelation, right?

The waiting area of LuckyChap, which is almost hidden in a nondescript bungalow on the Warner Bros. lot, is cast in a pink glow from the neon sign that bears the company name in loopy script. On the day of our interview, Robbie emerges from one of the back rooms dressed in high-waisted flared jeans, a black-and white-striped button-down top, and brandy-colored Mansur Gavriel platforms. She is smiling, like really smiling, radiating joy with her whole body. She tiptoes down the hall as if she’s sneaking up on someone or is giddy about sharing a secret. “I’m Margot,” she says, extending a slender arm to shake hands. “Do you want to see a puppy?

She knocks on yet another door, which is opened immediately by her assistant director-producer husband and one of the cofounders of LuckyChap, Tom Ackerley, a tall, handsome Brit who is holding a weeks-old pit-mix–terrier puppy they are fostering. Her colleagues are all longtime friends from her days living in London, when she and Tom shared a house with a group of young assistants working in film.

We’re calling her Bella,Robbie says, petting the dog’s head. “We’re absolutely not keeping her, are we, Tom? We can’t keep a puppy. We’re far too busy for a puppy, right, Tom?

Standing in the hall, face-to-face with Robbie, it’s hard to reconcile this version of the actress—this smiling, relaxed, unfettered dog lover—with the dark and complicated character I watched on the screen the day before. Of her metamorphosis, Robbie says, “Normally there’s someone who steps in and says, ‘No, keep all the girls looking pretty!’ But Josie Rourke, the director, was keen to explore how Queen Elizabeth’s looks affected her relationships, and everyone had the guts to do it.

Robbie and Ronan share only one scene in Mary Queen of Scots, but it’s a doozy. The actresses were never allowed to glimpse each other in full regalia until they were filming, so their shocked reaction to seeing one another that way—Mary begging for her life, Elizabeth in a steep decline—was visceral. The story of the strained relationship between the two 16th-century monarchs, is both a feud and a familial love story. Common threads of their experience—the cousins were both controlled by men in their court, forced into war, and struggled to keep their gender from being seen as a weakness—should bond them together, but instead it tears them apart. “I feel like Mary and Elizabeth could have just sat down and worked it out over coffee,Robbie says with a laugh. “But all those men kept getting in their way.

Next up, Robbie will play Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s take on Charles Manson–era Los Angeles in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, due next summer, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. She is also prepping for a Charlize Theron–produced drama about Roger Ailes and Fox News. With her packed schedule, Robbie doesn’t get much time to socialize these days, but she’s not complaining. “I’ve been working nonstop for 10 years, but I’m still giddy every time I walk on a set. We live and breathe the work here in L.A. I’ve got my head down!” Hopefully she’ll remember to look up on occasion, if only to show us how beautiful a woman in power can be.


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August 11, 2018 — By

Entertainment Weekly – The first time Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie saw each other on the set of Mary Queen of Scots, they ended up on the floor, crying in each other’s arms.

It was Ronan’s first day as the titular royal, and Robbie’s last as her cousin and rival, Elizabeth I. The two actresses had been kept apart throughout rehearsals and production until then; Robbie filmed in England, Ronan would be shooting in Scotland, and at their request, they never crossed paths in character prior to their sole scene together. “We really, really didn’t want to see each other,Ronan says. “I love Margot and wanted to hang out, but we wanted [the meeting] to be this special thing.

Yet, when the time finally came for them to perform the queens’ confrontation, well… “We were blubbering like idiots,Ronan tells EW. “We just held each other for ages, we wouldn’t let go. We were like” — she lowers her voice to demonstrate their sobbing — “‘Huohooouuughh.’” She laughs. “I’ve never experienced anythinglike that.

Then again, her real-life counterpart never did either. Historians believe the Queen of Scots and the Virgin Queen never met, but theater director-turned-first-time film helmer Josie Rourke was inspired by the 19th-century Friedrich Schiller play Mary Stuart, in which Mary and Elizabeth talk face-to-face on stage. “The whole conception of the film for me was around that meeting,” Rourke says of the historical drama. “We really wanted to have our version of that famous scene, with these two women looking at each other and being confronted with their choices — their personal choices, their political choices. It’s a moment that’s deeply personal.

And deeply emotional. The waterworks on set may have been caused by the high stakes (and excitement) of capturing the only time the stars share the screen, but Robbie thinks those tears also stemmed from how much they’d delved into the tragedy of their characters’ histories. (For Elizabeth: Her mother was beheaded by her father. For Mary: She lost her husband before she turned 18. And both were often targeted by religious groups, political conspirators, and marriage treaties.) “I had underestimated how difficult their lives were, and how much pain was wrapped up in this power,Robbie says. “I think it just meant more.

Based on John Guy’s 2004 biography of Mary, the film (penned by House of Cardscreator Beau Willimon) follows the 16th century rulers during the seven years when a widowed Mary returned to Scotland hoping to reclaim her throne from Elizabeth. Though Elizabeth — nearly 500-year-old spoiler alert! — later orders Mary’s imprisonment and execution, Robbie never thought of them as true enemies. “They have this sisterhood, this love for each other, but the love is complicated by the fact that each one’s survival threatens the other,” she explains. “It’s a love story between these two characters. A very, very complicated love story.”

Maybe that’s why Rourke finds it simpler to explain her film’s take on Mary and Elizabeth’s relationship in classic fictional, even comic-book, terms. “If you’re doing Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, you spend more time with Holmes, and if you’re doing Batman and the Joker, you tend to be [sympathetic] with Batman, but to power the story along, the [protagonist] is locked into an amazing psychodrama with a character who is both like him and the opposite,” she says. “What I really wanted to do was a movie in which two women got to do that.

But wait — does that mean Elizabeth is the villain, akin to a psychopath in clown makeup who just wants to watch the world burn? The heavy makeup’s there, but Mary Queen of Scots isn’t about one queen defeating the other; it’s more about them grappling with circumstances — manipulative counselors, male-dominated courts — beyond their control. “This is a movie about the cost of power, about how often impossible it is for women, no matter what choice they make, to be able to lead,” Rourke says. “It is a plea for us to think deep and hard about that while looking at a part of our history.” Just don’t forget to bring plenty of tissues.

Mary Queen of Scots hits theaters Dec. 7.

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July 19, 2018 — By

Evening Standard

In just over 10 years, Margot Robbie has gone from Neighbours to Oscar nominee and one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood. Now, as Gavanndra Hodge learns, she is focused on using her high-powered status for good.

For much of her life, Margot Robbie has been addicted to fear: to the electric adrenaline that surges through her when she is sure she can’t do something, but forces herself to try regardless. ‘I love feeling terrified, I love it when I think I can’t pull it off this time,’ she says. It is this compulsion that made her — then a 23-year-old unknown — unexpectedly slap Leonardo DiCaprio in the face during her screen test for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (the slap got her the job).

It is this determination to push it just a bit too far that made her insist on doing most of her own stunts when she stole the show as Suicide Squad’s baseball bat-wielding psycho with a heart, Harley Quinn. It is this refusal to stay within the limits of what might be expected from a ‘toothpaste model’ (her words) that led her to set up a production company with her now husband and two best friends when she was 24, and to produce and star in I, Tonya. ‘People said, “That will never get made,”’ she says of her film about the controversial, tenacious, domestically abused US Olympic figure skater, Tonya Harding. ‘It gets to me when people say that. So I was like, “Let’s give it a go.”’

I, Tonya was a critical success. Allison Janney won an Oscar for her portrayal of Harding’s ruthless, nicotine-addled mother and Robbie was nominated for an Oscar (and a Golden Globe) for her interpretation of the DIY diamanté Harding. The film was also a financial success — costing around £8 million to make and grossing £35m. Not bad for its producer and lead actor.

I, Tonya was the second film produced by Robbie. The first was Terminal, which has only just had its theatrical release. And it is to discuss Terminal that we are here, inside a suite at The Soho Hotel in London, eating chocolate biscuits and drinking Darjeeling tea. Robbie, who has just turned 28 (she went to Soho Farmhouse for her birthday), is wearing a peach-coloured silk vest and thin gold necklaces, which she fiddles with as she talks.

I was drawn to how odd and dark the script was,’ she explains. Terminal is indeed an odd film, a revenge-noir gangster flick visually inspired by films such as Brazil and Blade Runner. Robbie sparks and sizzles as a pole-dancing, tea-serving hit woman for hire with Wanstead vowels (‘you should try my sticky buns, handsome’). It was written and directed by first-timer Vaughn Stein, a former assistant director and a friend of Robbie’s British husband, Tom Ackerley, also a former AD who she first met on the set of 2013’s Suite Française. One senses that it was an act of friendship that made Robbie push to get Terminal made.

He [Stein] wanted to do it so badly and no one would put the money behind him, which is the case for so many talented creatives. So it was really nice to give him the chance to get his vision out there. At the same time we got the chance to learn how to produce.’ The film, which also stars Simon Pegg, was made over 27 relentless days and sleepless nights in Budapest. It cost £3m and Robbie says it makes her ‘swell with pride’.

Robbie grew up in the mountainous hinterland of Australia’s Gold Coast, kangaroos bouncing outside her bedroom window. Her days were spent on the beach, making rope swings, plunging into mountain rock pools. ‘No one thought I would be an actress because where I grew up it wasn’t a job you could do — I never met anyone who had so much as made a cup of coffee on a film set.

Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother, a physiotherapist, raised Robbie and her three siblings single-handedly. ‘She is such a saint; she is amazing, I love her. She held it together and always put everyone else first.

It was a chaotic, crowded and noisy childhood. ‘We weren’t easy kids, we didn’t make it easy for Mum.’ Not least Robbie herself, who was determined to assert her independence from a young age. ‘When I was five I was watching my mum put spread on my sandwich for school and I was saying, “It’s not going to the edges”, and she was like, “If I am not doing it right, do it yourself. So I started making my own lunch from five years old. If I wanted something a certain way I just did it myself. Mum says that sums me up. I’m still trying to make it up to her.’ (One of the first things Robbie did once her career took off was to pay off her mother’s mortgage.)

When Robbie was 17 she moved to Melbourne, and when she wasn’t working in a Subway restaurant she was badgering the production team on Neighbours. Her persistence paid off and in 2008 she won the part of Donna Freedman, who she played for two and a half years; but all the while she was seeing a dialect coach, perfecting her American accent so that she could make the move to the United States. Again, determination won out. Robbie’s second Hollywood film role was opposite DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Robbie says that she does not regret any of the parts she has played, but she is becoming more aware of the social impact of the roles she chooses. ‘It is a weird thing, having a profile,’ she says, becoming quiet for the first (and only) time during our conversation. ‘It is hard because I would never have got to this position if I was trying to censor everything I did. I would never have an impact on anyone if I played perfect characters.’ She does have some compelling roles coming up: as a pox-ridden Elizabeth I in Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan; and as Sharon Tate, the actress who was bloodily murdered by Charles Manson’s followers, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Brad Pitt and DiCaprio. These are substantial, high-profile roles that explore the power and vulnerability of women ‘that seems to be the contradiction that I am most attracted to’, she says. And films that she is developing include Marion, a feminist retelling of the Robin Hood story; and Gotham City Sirens, for which she is reprising her role as Harley Quinn, but this time uniting a posse of DC Comics’ deranged heroines. ‘If I was going to play Harley again, I wanted it to be in the kind of movie I wanted to see. So it’s about a girl gang.’ The film is due to start filming early next year.

Robbie has been vocal in the #MeToo movement. Last year she was asked to give a speech at a Hollywood event celebrating women and film; she prepared by asking all her female crew member friends about their experiences in the industry, creating a collective narrative that was more powerful than one person’s experience. ‘Of course I knew the problem existed. I just hadn’t viewed it as a problem we were allowed to be angry about. Because no one spoke about it, no one said, “I am not putting up with this any more.” It wasn’t called a problem, it was called a fact of life. That is such a terrible mindset. If we just accept things like sexual harassment as a fact of life, it doesn’t get fixed.

This collective approach is one that comes naturally to Robbie. ‘I never do anything on my own. I don’t see the purpose of doing anything if I don’t do it with my friends. I go mental when I am on my own; my thoughts are so loud it drives me insane.’ On set she says she is never found in her trailer, but always chatting to cast and crew. She made such good friends with the crew on the set of Suite Française that a group of them decided to rent together in Clapham, squeezing seven people into a four-bedroom flat. ‘Those were the best days of my life,’ she says of the nights spent in Clapham’s bars, and the days on the Common with a football and booze. One of those flatmates was Ackerley, who she married in 2016 in Australia, wearing her mother’s old wedding dress. ‘It was lovely, just chilled, you didn’t have to wear shoes.

Her hen night at a friend’s house in Australia, however, was ‘absolute carnage’. There were at least 45 women, including Robbie’s gang of school friends, the ‘Heckers’. ‘There are 16 of us, we have been called that since we were at school.’ Her Neighbours friends were also invited, as were her British gang from her Clapham days: ‘They are a rowdy bunch, too, and the combination was explosive.Robbie is a big fan of fancy dress, always forcing it on other people at parties, so her friends dressed her up in various wigs and massive sunglasses for the surprise finale. ‘They hired a Harry Potter-themed stripper for me; he had all the Harry Potter phrases and innuendoes. I was so touched, it was really such a thoughtful thing to do. They know me so well.

Robbie has been reading the Harry Potter books on a loop since she was eight years old. ‘Right now I am on the fifth book. I know what’s coming next when I turn the page. I can’t meditate and this is what I have to do to fall asleep. Vaughn [the director of Terminal] told me that if you have trouble sleeping, which I do, you should read something that you are very familiar with to calm you. If I read something new before I go to bed, my brain goes 1,000 miles an a hour. Reading Harry Potter makes me happy and calms me. I read for about an hour to two hours every night. My husband hates it.

She also loves magic tricks and has spent many an evening at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, where she and Ackerley have moved. ‘They always call me up on to the stage because I am always the one in the audience screaming. I give the best reactions.

Otherwise you will find her on the Warner Bros lot, where her production company is based, but despite the many projects she has in development, the thing that is getting her most fired up right now is her desire to do theatre. ‘I didn’t go to drama school and I didn’t go to university. I just really want to do theatre. The idea of doing it absolutely terrifies me, and I love that.

Determination has not, traditionally, been considered an attractive female trait. Women are told to be like the swan: graceful on the top, paddling like mad under the surface. Margot Robbie is exciting because she is happy to own her determination, happy to let the world see the beauty and the effort. ‘You can’t wait for it, you have to make it happen,’ she says, shaking my hand firmly.

‘Terminal’ is in cinemas now, and will be released on digital, DVD and Blu-ray on 6 August

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