Vegas Smarty - January February 2018


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Margot Robbie delights in throwing herself into her performances. She once smacked Leonardo DiCaprio in the face while auditioning for The Wolf of Wall Street, she revelled in her character Harley Quinn’s wicked behavior on the set of Suicide Squad and she recently got caught up in a violent argument with co-star Sebastian Stan while shooting I, Tonya, a biopic about the notorious American figure skater Tonya Harding. Robbie became so overwrought while filming the scene that she stormed off the set screaming at Stan who plays Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. “We got so carried away in this scene where we have this massive fight, and he slammed my hand against a door, and I think I even punched him in the side of the head,” Robbie says. “It was such an incredible intense argument that for a moment I forgot that I wasn’t Tonya and he wasn’t Jeff and I wasn’t on a film set. Sebastian came running after me and asking me where I’m going, and I said I was going to the hospital because he had broken my hand in the fight (it wasn’t broken). I forgot I was acting and nothing makes me more exhilarated when I genuinely forget where I am.” I, Tonya, which premiered to rave reviews at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, recounts the events surrounding how Harding’s husband (Stan) arranged to have someone break rival skater Nancy Kerrigan’s leg before the 1994 U.S Figure Skating Championships. Robbie spent four months learning to skate so that she
would be able to mimic as many of the complex figure skating moves as possible. In the meantime, Robbie will be appearing ion Goodbye Christopher Robin, the biographical drama directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) about acclaimed children’s author and Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. The story focuses on Milne’s relationship with his son, Christopher Robin, who became the basis for the child in the stories and his world of animal creatures. Robbie plays Milne’s wife Daphne de Sélincourt who has a complicated relationship with the troubled author— who struggled with PTSD after serving as a Captain in the British Army during WWI. Robbie Tweeted about her experience on the movie: “Had the most magical time shooting this. Trust me; you don’t want to miss it.” Meanwhile, Robbie has recently completed work on Mary Queen of Scots in which she plays Elizabeth I opposite Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart. The 27-year-old native of Queensland, Australia married to English filmmaker Tom Ackerly in December of last year after they began dating in 2014 after meeting on the set of Suite Francaise. VS: Margot, do you think I, Tonya will change people’s perceptions about Tonya Harding or her role in the attack on her skating rival Nancy Kerrigan? ROBBIE: We didn’t set out to make the film to change people’s minds or make a particular statement about what happened surrounding the incident. The greater theme is the truth, and there are so many different sides to a single story. I don’t know if people will walk out of the theater thinking that someone was in the right or the wrong but people will appreciate that they didn’t know the full story. VS: Did you get a chance to meet Tonya Harding before starting work on the film? ROBBIE: Yeah, I spent a couple of hours with her before we started shooting, Craig (Gillespie) and myself did, and then that was it. But there’s so much footage in the archives that we could reference and replicate in a lot of instances. But I really did want to differentiate her as a person and the character I play in the film. I felt like if I spent too much time with her, then I’d probably hold back when we were filming, and I definitely didn’t want to do that. It wouldn’t be right for the character. VS: What was Harding like in the course of the brief time you spent with her discussing the incident? (Harding has always denied any involvement or advance knowledge of the attack on Kerrigan.) ROBBIE: She saw the film, and she has been so gracious about it, and she was very complimentary about my skating. I personally would not want someone to distill my life into 140 pages, but she has been very kind and appreciative of what we have tried to pull off in the film. She was more worried about me and how I felt about playing her, which was rather surprising after all she has been through in her life. VS: How much time did you spend working on your ice skating technique? ROBBIE: I spent about four months trying to learn as many of the moves and the kind of choreography that ice skaters perform during their routines. It was much more difficult that I imagined. One big thing I found out was that the real challenge is making the skating look as effortless as possible even though it’s very athletic and physically demanding. Skating is like ballet in that sense because it’s that effortless quality that is what makes it look so beautiful and artistic. VS: Did you ever attempt to do some of the complicated jumps like the triple axel? ROBBIE: (Laughs) There was no way I could even attempt that – only six women in history, including Tonya Harding, have ever even landed the jump in competition. The best I could do was as many of the spins and artistic moves, but it takes years and years of practice to be able to pull of those jumps! VS: The relationship between Harding and her ex-husband (they were divorced at the time of the incident although they were still living together) was very intense and complicated, wasn’t it? ROBBIE: It was only while we were about a third of the way through the shooting that the film took on a different quality for me. They had a bizarre relationship, but Sebastian (Stan) brought such a humanity to Jeff that it turned the movie into a love story that overshadowed any of the other themes. His performance made you believe that what he did (in planning the attack on Kerrigan) he did out of love for Tonya even though that was very messed up. But it changed the nature of the story in a way that I hadn’t expected. VS: What was the biggest impression that you came away with about Harding and Kerrigan after making the film? ROBBIE: That it wasn’t as black and white a story as the media made it out to be between Tonya and Nancy. In the eyes of the public, Tonya was made out to be the devil and Nancy was the angel, but that wasn’t the case.
 VS: You’ve been playing a lot of intense characters lately, particularly in Suicide Squad and now in I, Tonya. Where do you get that strength from? ROBBIE: My mom has been a great example for me. She was a single mother raising my brothers and my sister and I by herself, and we didn’t make life easy for her. We were always fighting, and my mom had to be a very strong woman to hold things together. She’s an amazing woman. VS: What was it like growing up on a farm in Queensland (Australia)? ROBBIE: It was perfect for kids. My siblings and I went boar hunting, and surfing and I grew up learning more about agriculture and animal husbandry than you could imagine. It was not the kind of upbringing that you could ever have expected would lead anyone into acting. VS: So what inspired you to become an actress? ROBBIE: I have always had a wild imagination, and I loved watching videos and pretending to be part of the kinds of adventures the characters would get to go on. I was always play-acting as a kid, and I would watch the same movies on video over and over again, and I would then re-enact the scenes in front of my mom. She was a great audience though, and she would wonder how I managed to remember all the lines! I would also put on these little plays for my family, and I would force everyone to pay $1 for each performance! So I always understood the business angle of things. But even after taking an acting course the idea of becoming an actress would have struck me as being just as likely as becoming an astronaut.

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