It may surprise you to hear that Margot Robbie, at just 32, worries she may be on a downward career trajectory, in a mercilessly competitive world.
Yet as the Aussie actor admits to RSNG.com, there’s an irony that isn’t lost on her – her career anxiety is the thing that continues to drive her forward…
RSNG Is your new movie Babylon the ultimate tale of Hollywood excess, in an era when the brakes were off so far as how people lived and partied?
MARGOT ROBBIE, ACTOR “It was a golden era, that’s for sure. It was that post-War period when people were getting back their energy and ambition; when success was seen as a good thing, not a bad thing. It was a race to the top and it didn’t come packaged with any notion of guilt or shame. People could just go out there and pursue the dreams they wanted.”
RSNG Is that so different to now?
MARGOT ROBBIE “Yes and no. In the current era it seems we all have to hold back our pursuit of anything that means self-reward.
“I admire the societal view that we need to look after each other – I just worry how genuine it is. I say that as someone who sees a lot of the things I talk about, from both sides.”
RSNG This film feels like a bit of a line in the sand for you, following on from Amsterdam – another solid diversion from Harley Quinn?
MARGOT ROBBIE “I’ve actually found it very therapeutic to step away from Harley, but it’s also terrifying. It’s like having all the security you ever need or crave sat right in front of you, yet you find yourself tossing that out the window, then needing to replace it.”
Most actors need constant proof or reassurance that they’ve still got it – whatever ‘it’ is
RSNG So why do it?
MARGOT ROBBIE “For me it’s about fear – it’s about never accepting that you can take the easy option.
“Most actors need constant proof or reassurance that they’ve still got it – whatever ‘it’ is. I am no different on that front. I need to keep taking chances, because standing still with the same project or the same concept is, in fact, going backwards, and I have already felt in certain moments that my career is at risk of a downward trajectory.
“It’s fair to say I will do absolutely anything to avoid that from happening.”
RSNG Does this pursuit of always moving forward come from growing up with three siblings?
MARGOT ROBBIE “You mean, can I blame it on them?! I think the way we grew up was reflective of most other families – the general bickering and snapping, fighting over the front seat, fighting over clothes, fighting over toys… just fighting as all good families do!
“But we were 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.”
RSNG What were you like as a kid?
MARGOT ROBBIE “I was really dramatic. Not 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 all that.”
RSNG I’ve read you used to put on shows but charge family members to watch them. Looking back, were you a very shrewd kid who was already cut out for this industry?
MARGOT ROBBIE “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!”
Actors by their very nature are exhibitionists – for as long as the exhibition is running everything is fine
RSNG Do you sense your first Oscar win is just around the corner, after two nominations?
MARGOT ROBBIE “Who knows? For a long time the nomination was the dream. I kind of worry that if I did win an Academy Award I would tick off that childhood dream and wonder where I was going to go next.
“I mean, I’m sure I’d find somewhere, but when you dream of something, then you achieve that, and you can’t top it… well, it can be difficult to then think up a new target.”
RSNG Is that a scary personal conundrum?
MARGOT ROBBIE “It is scary, but fear has played a role in where I’ve got to today. I know that sounds strange, because I always play quite loud, confident, bombastic characters, but the fragility of the industry and of being an actor is there all the time.
“And the reality is it goes so far beyond past success, or bank balance. Actors are exhibitionists, and for as long as the exhibition is running, everything is fine. But once people stop coming to watch the show, the exhibit is useless, and rejection – ultimate rejection – is a familiar but horrible feeling for any actor.”
RSNG Do you really secretly want to win an Oscar though?
MARGOT ROBBIE “Being nominated has always felt like winning for me. It means more people go to see it, it keeps the conversation going… but yes I guess I would like to win at some point!”
WHAT NEXT? Read how Florence Pugh channels fear into her acting in RSNG.com’s interview with the Don’t Worry Darling star.
Photos: Shutterstock/REX, Moviestillsdb, AdobeStock