Few actresses working today have had a meteoric rise to stardom quite like Margot Robbie’s. Indeed, the Oscar nominee – once a mainstay of Australian TV show Neighbours – has virtually taken Hollywood by storm with her performances in the likes of I, Tonya, Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street. And it was the latter motion picture that really propelled her to new heights, thanks to her stellar portrayal of manipulative femme fatale Naomi Lapaglia. That film, of course, saw Robbie decide to completely disrobe for one of its scenes. But do you know why she insisted on doing so? Well, as it turns out, it was for good reason.
There must be something about Australian soap opera Neighbours that turns its actors into global superstars; household names like Russell Crowe and Chris Hemsworth are among the show’s alumni, for instance. It’s Margot Robbie who has recently emerged as the popular soap’s hottest commodity, however.
But the blonde bombshell wasn’t always a huge name. And, in fact, she was born pretty far from Hollywood, in Dalby, Australia, back in June 1990. Robbie was the daughter of a physiotherapist and a farmer, but it was mainly her mother who brought her up, along with one sister and two brothers.
Furthermore, Robbie took a real interest in outdoor activities during her formative years, with her childhood hobbies mostly being surfing, riding motorbikes and pigsticking on the farm. When the future star hit high school, though, she had acquired a passion for drama.
And it was during this time that Robbie put her acting abilities on display to a wider audience: in particular, by starring alongside Liam Hemsworth in the children’s program The Elephant Princess. Needless to say, though, she would go on to bigger projects.
But it wasn’t until Robbie decided to cold call the producers of Neighbours that things really began to look up for the budding young performer. Thanks to her efforts, she landed the role of Donna Freedman – a part that was originally only meant to be a small one.
Robbie took the opportunity and ran with it, though, turning an initially intended short stint into an impressive three-year run. Then, in 2011, she announced that she was leaving the show to try her hand at a career in America. And while her first Hollywood project, Pan Am, may have flopped, her next one did anything but.
That project, of course, was the Martin Scorsese-directed black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street. Apparently, the cinema great had wanted to hire an unknown actress for the part of Naomi Lapaglia – the wife of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
And it seems that when the Neighbours star auditioned for the role, she was head and shoulders above the rest. Scorsese spoke to Time in 2017 about her unorthodox reading of the script, saying, “She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting – by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face.”
Robbie’s boldness and spontaneity paid off, however, and she landed the part. It’s one she excelled in, too, judging by the reaction that her performance elicited from Awards Daily critic Sasha Stone, who wrote, “Robbie… is ferocious. [She’s] funny, hard and kills every scene she’s in.”
The Wolf of Wall Street itself, meanwhile, went on to become a huge hit at the box office, grossing a whopping $392 million worldwide during its initial run in 2013. And not only was it a commercial success, but it also picked up five Academy Award nominations to boot.
However, one of the movie’s scenes saw Robbie face a dilemma: whether she should go nude, as the script required. And it would be a quandary that she would discuss with Look magazine in 2014, saying, “[Nudity is] different in this day and age because of the internet. It was like, if I do this there will forever be YouTube clips of this, there will be slow-motion versions.”
Robbie went on, “It’s not just the repercussions for myself – my brothers and my grandparents have to deal with that. So it’s not something to be taken lightly.” She did, however, concede that baring all is sometimes crucial to portraying a character well on screen.
And Robbie continued in the same interview, “There are scripts I pick up and say, ‘There’s no reason why she’s taking her clothes off, that’s just stupid, it’s just nudity for the sake of nudity.’ That I do not agree with, ever.”
Nevertheless, Robbie added to Look, “But when the nudity is warranted, I don’t think there’s anything shameful in that. If it’s justified and the character would do it, then it should be there.” It appears, then, that the actress considered the nudity in The Wolf of Wall Street to be in this vein.
And, evidently, Robbie felt it was best that she show that side of herself to more accurately convey her character. Certainly, Naomi proves herself to be unafraid of confrontation in the movie; it perhaps stands to reason, then, that she’d have a similarly unabashed approach to baring all.
However, going nude didn’t exactly come naturally to Robbie. Speaking to Wonderland in 2017, she recalled, “I was just terrified that people would see the movie and think ‘Eugh! She’s not that great.’” It was certainly an obstacle that she had to face while playing the part.
And Robbie went on, “When I was playing Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street, it was so high-tempo sexy. I was acutely aware that the line in the screenplay was ‘the hottest blonde ever’ – I’m clearly not the hottest blonde ever.” It’s fair to say, though, that many would disagree with that assertion…
Since that iconic role, meanwhile, Robbie’s career has gone from strength to strength. She followed it up with her part as the devious Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, played a con artist alongside Will Smith in Focus and brought the life and career of figure skater Tonya Harding to the big screen in I, Tonya.
And it appears as if there’s no stopping Robbie from becoming one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. She’s certainly put the work in, as the actress currently has no fewer than four films in the pipeline: Peter Rabbit, Mary Queen of Scots, Terminal and Dreamland.
What’s more, in a 2016 interview, Robbie may have given the world some understanding of how she got her drive in the first place. “I was watching TV one day – maybe I was 15,” she explained. “There was a girl my age doing a scene. And she said her line, and it was just not that good. And I remember thinking, ‘I could have done it better.’ And then I thought, ‘Why is she doing it? Why isn’t it me?’” Well, it’s definitely her turn now.