Charlize Theron nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in BOMBSHELL
Charlize Theron nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in BOMBSHELL
Margot Robbie nominated for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role in BOMBSHELL
BOMBSHELL nominated for Best Makeup and Haistyling at the Academy Awards
It’s no wonder that, for Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, the fandom is mutual. Both left their continents of origin to become Hollywood royalty, and recently starred together in Bombshell as anchorwomen battling sexist double standards (or worse) in the workplace. Once typecast as the “gold-digging girlfriend,” a pre-fame Robbie might’ve empathized with her fictional character, Fox News producer Kayla Pospisil. But of course, Robbie’s career quickly outgrew anyone’s expectations (including her own), as the Aussie’s ever-lengthening actor-producer credits continue to prove. Her next-up Batman spin-off, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will be her company LuckyChap’s highest-budget endeavor to date.
Margot Robbie Charlize, thank you for doing this! Do you want to share a pickle? I’m not normally a big pickle eater, but I’ve been really liking them…
Charlize Theron Yes, I want to share a pickle with you! How could I say no?
MR I just learned, like a few years ago, that pickles are actually cucumbers.
CT [Laughter] That is amazing to me. My daughter thinks cucumbers are pickles. She calls cucumbers “pickles.” I’m like, that’s not a pickle…[On that note], let’s talk about your childhood. I’m picturing you spearfishing off the Gold Coast and catching your dinner as a 12-year-old.
MR Literally, yeah [laughs]. So, I actually very much had that rural Australian experience. [When I was young] we moved out to the hinterland, which is part of the Gold Coast. We lived on acreage, so it was definitely [in line with a certain image of Australia]. People in America are like, were there kangaroos and koalas outside your bedroom window? And I’m like, well yes there were, but that’s not a normal thing in Australia, necessarily! I feel like I really got all the best of Australia.
CT So, when did you discover movies?
MR We had a limited and eclectic collection of VHS tapes, which I watched a thousand times over. I’d be rattling off lines in the kitchen, and my mom was like, “How do you remember all this? Are you making this up?” [Even] so, I never said, “I’m going to be an actor.” I think it was probably a similar thing as when you were growing up in South Africa...
CT Yeah, no. It’s like talking about a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.
MR Yeah, it’s not an actual job. And even after I was working full-time at 17 on Neighbours, my family was like, “So… what’s your plan? What are you going to do for a job and career?”
CT Did you have to really convince your parents? What did they want you to do?
MR I don’t know! I think the best-case scenario would have been going to university.
CT Boy, were they wrong [laughs].
MR I never did go to university! But I went with my friends to all university initiation-week parties.
CT Smart! The best part! So what was the next step, after [working on Neighbours]?
MR To begin with, I was just stoked to not get fired. But after that, there seemed to be two options available: One, stay on Neighbours; many of my castmates on that show had worked there for 30 years, and I could have had a very comfortable, nice life [by doing that]. But I knew I didn’t want that. [The other option] was taking a chance on America. And I’d seen some costars try their luck in L.A. So I spent the next three years saving up and working on dialects, because I couldn’t do an [American] accent to save my life, and I went for door number two.
CT Wow…So when you started, did you have any fear of being typecast?
MR It wasn’t until after Wolf of Wall Street that a lot of similar roles started coming in. I realized, gosh, I’m going to have to do something very different, to kind of let people know I’m not going to keep playing the gold-digging wife forever. And it’s not that I don’t want to [ever play] a gold-digging wife—I had the best time playing [Naomi]. But I had exercised that muscle. I had come to understand her. I wanted to read a character, and think, “I have no idea how to do that.” I always want to feel a little bit scared when I take on a role. And to be pushing myself in some way. But before that, I just wanted to get any job. [My first real role] was on a TV show called Pan Am, and I shot that for a year, in New York. I was playing a very sweet, naive young woman experiencing the world for the first time, and having a blast. And I was maybe not as innocent as her, but I was definitely having the same sort of thing; like, wow, the world is so big and amazing, and I’m in New York City, it’s so crazy…My first time on a set, I wanted to know what everyone was doing, and why. I kept asking the DP, “What lens are you on, and why that?” Eventually he just brought me a book and was like, “Read that, it’s got all the answers!” It was so kind, and I still have the book. It was an interesting read, and answered a lot of my questions, so I’d stop bothering him...
CT Maybe that was it, but at what point did you feel that you wanted to produce your own films?
MR It’s a funny thing…I’ve spoken about this with some other actresses. Fame is such a weird thing. It has this way of coming on very quickly. And I felt very untethered by it. I was searching for different ways of taking control of my life, to get where I wanted to be. As a producer, you get to be a part of everything. And not just on set, but in the years it takes up to that point. I like exercising that business-savvy part of my brain—even doing the tax-incentive shit.
CT How long was it before I, Tonya came around?
MR That was the second film [we produced at LuckyChap]; we gave ourselves a manifest to begin with, and that was to tell female-driven stories and to work with as many first- and second-time directors as we could.
CT And what about that project made you say, “I have to do this”? Did you know about her [Tonya Harding]?
MR No, I had never heard her name. And I actually thought it was fictional. Like, okay, this gets a bit absurd in some places, people are going to think we’re taking the piss now. But the most absurd parts were absolutely all factual.
CT That’s so interesting that you knew nothing about her. To me, she feels like Elvis. And I imagine, if [the role] came to me, that’s how I would look at it. I think that’s maybe the key to why you tapped into an aspect of [the character] that didn’t feel sensational. You tapped into the emotional story of this woman who was struggling with a lot of shit. And she did terrible things, but her circumstances were also not great.
MR Yeah! It was perfect that I didn’t know about it. Because I had no preconceived notions. As an actor, the first thing is trying to understand her point of view. I’m reading lines that say, “Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world shits. For me it’s an everyday occurrence.” I read that and think, yeah, I agree! Why is everyone so hard on you? I don’t get it! So I’m really glad I didn’t know anything. It made it so much easier to understand her.
CT Do you remember the first time we met?
MR Yes! On a shoot, [a couple years back]. You were practically naked.
CT I had a lot [going on]. “She’s wearing a sheet, she’s got a toddler screaming and she’s gushing to an actress she wants to work with…” How strange is that three years later, I called you up about [Bombshell]?
MR Since we’re on that topic…Why did you think of me for this role? I never got to ask…
CT First of all, oh my god, are you insane? [It was] a no-brainer, Margot Robbie. But second of all, this is an ensemble cast; there’s not a lot of time for you to flesh out [your character]. We needed an actor who could really tap into all the emotions, economically and effectively. And you have done that in spades. [And from the moment you agreed to it] you were so committed to the project. You were doing it with us. What was it that made it so clear to you?
MR I mean, I could literally [repeat] everything you just said, because it was a no-brainer. The opportunity to work with you…I secretly just wanted to watch you produce. Like, I don’t know if I’m doing this right—handling the producing the acting, and life. It would be really nice to [watch someone else do it]. But more than anything, I wanted to be a part of this story, and I wanted people to experience Kayla’s experience. Which, as you see in [one] scene, is so hard to define. He assaults her without getting up from his chair. I thought that was something that people needed to see.
CT Margot. I love you.
MR I love you, too. You’re a great reporter.
CT How much do I get paid for this?
MR You get one jar of pickles.
Margot Robbie has excelled at playing real people on screen.
In 2019, she played Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the year before, she took on Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary Queen of Scots.” In a career-making performance — for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Oscar — Robbie portrayed disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in 2017’s “I, Tonya.”
Tackling the role of Kayla Pospisil — an ambitious young Fox News producer who falls prey to Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) — in “Bombshell” presented a much different challenge. Unlike Charlize Theron’s Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson, Robbie’s character is fictional, a composite created by screenwriter Charles Randolph to illustrate Ailes’ late-stage sexual harassment and abuse — just before his Shakespearean downfall in the summer of 2016.
“I didn’t understand her to begin with,” Robbie says. “But my process is to do a ton of research, consider every single option, know every single situation, scenario, thought and motivation inside and out, so I can step onto set and then let it all go.”
She set about figuring Kayla out, using a methodology “Bombshell” director Jay Roach calls “a nerdy desire to get it all down.” She watched the Fox News shows Kayla would have liked, and created a fake Twitter account so she could observe the performative opinionating of “young millennial conservative girls.” (Robbie wouldn’t specify whom she followed, but picture the Tomi Lahrens of the world.)
And she perfected Kayla’s speaking voice, twisting her Australian drawl into a perky Floridian lilt. Roach urged Robbie to watch footage of Katherine Harris, Florida’s former secretary of state, who became famous during the aftermath of the Bush v. Gore presidential election of 2000 and was played by Laura Dern in Roach’s 2008 HBO movie “Recount.” Harris grew up privileged and evangelical in Florida, as did Kayla. “I just love the sounds of her vowels — they’re incredible,” Robbie says. But Harris wasn’t her sole touchpoint: “Every day, I’d do the monologue from ‘Legally Blonde,’” she says, citing Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods as the type of character who is “incredibly smart” but “underestimated because of their looks.”
Robbie’s hard work in “Bombshell,” which was released by Lionsgate, has paid off. She will compete in the supporting actress category this week at the Golden Globes, as well as for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 19. She is a front-runner for an Oscar nomination.
The awards recognition capped off a year in which Robbie created a stir with her affectionate portrayal of Tate in “Once Upon a Time” and filmed “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” a spinoff from the 2016 film “Suicide Squad” that she conceived more than four years ago. The movie, which Robbie stars in and produced, hits theaters on Feb. 7. She is currently shooting James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” a sequel to the original film, in Atlanta. It’s slated for release Aug. 6, 2021.
Plenty of female actors — Theron, Witherspoon, Viola Davis — start companies to produce their own movies. What’s unusual is that Robbie was just 24 when she founded hers.
Only seven years earlier she had moved from the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia — where she’d grown up as the third of four children raised by their mother — to Melbourne in hopes of acting professionally. Despite having no money and knowing no one, she was quickly cast in “Neighbours,” the iconic soap opera that also launched the careers of Liam Hemsworth and Kylie Minogue. “I didn’t think there was higher than that for me,” she recalls. When her contract was up, she moved to Los Angeles, and was again cast right away: this time playing a stewardess on ABC’s stylish but short-lived “Pan Am.” From there, she worked steadily, but broke out definitively in 2013 in the attention-getting role of Naomi in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which she had Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort wrapped around her finger.
Now 29, Robbie runs LuckyChap Entertainment, which she founded in 2014 with now-husband Tom Ackerley and their friends Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr, out of an airy, farmhouse-style office in Los Angeles.
She had met Ackerley and McNamara when they were assistant directors on the romantic drama “Suite Française” the year before, and after getting drunk together after the London premiere of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” they all decided to share a house in the Clapham neighborhood of London. (Kerr, Robbie’s childhood friend, was a fourth roommate.) The company was born at their kitchen table out of Robbie’s desire to create her own work. She would read scripts and say, “I want to play that character, but it’s a guy — how do I self-generate?” McNamara says. “But also, she was at a place in her career where she had the ability to set up a company, and wanted to support other female creatives and give them the platform she was getting herself.
Robbie is intensely involved, sometimes too involved. “She reads every script — we tell her not to watch every single daily,” Ackerley says. “Ultimately, she does probably far too much.”
Notes producer and co-star Theron, “Margot just impresses the bloody weasels out of me.” She laughs at the turn of phrase. “At this age taking control of her career, and just being so proactive in what she wants to make, what she wants to put out there — I’m a little intimidated by her.”
The events of “Bombshell” take place before the post-Harvey Weinstein #MeToo movement, but its lessons infuse every frame. #MeToo, which resulted in seismic changes in how women’s stories are told on screen, and who gets to tell them — specifically, the battle cry for more women writers and directors — caused Robbie and LuckyChap to look inward. The company had done its first three films with male directors. “At the start of 2018, we made a conscious decision to shift to try to find more women behind the camera,” Ackerley says.
“We were looking at our own work in a different way,” Robbie says. “Some of our projects felt extremely relevant and more urgent to tell. And other ones felt irrelevant.”
“Birds of Prey” felt urgent. It features Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya. It’s written by a woman (Christina Hodson), directed by a woman (Cathy Yan) and has women producers (Robbie and Sue Kroll). The movie is an ambitious leap forward for LuckyChap — a $75 million, R-rated, Warner Bros./DC Entertainment production.
“Margot just impresses the bloody weasels out of me. At this age taking control of her career, and just being so proactive in what she wants to make — I’m a little intimidated by her.”
During “Suicide Squad,” Robbie says she “fell in love with” Harley Quinn, though she didn’t understand why the wildly brilliant, unstable character would stay in a relationship with the Joker (played by Jared Leto), who “wants to kill her most of the time.”
She dove into research: She read the Sam Shepard play “Fool for Love,” about a destructive relationship, and listened to TED Talks by women with schizophrenia who were also accomplished professionals. She immersed herself in the world of DC Comics, which she adores. “Harley has this unpredictable nature that means she could react in any way to any situation, which as an actor is just a gift,” Robbie says.
A year before “Suicide Squad” came out, with the go-ahead from Warner Bros. and DC to explore a Harley spinoff, Robbie met with British screenwriter Hodson, with whom she shares an agent. Over brunch, which turned into pizza and mimosas, they bonded.
“An hour and a half later, we were drunk on a Wednesday morning, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Robbie says. “The ideas started flowing.” In person at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Robbie exudes enthusiasm, speaking effusively about subjects such as the “Harry Potter” novels (“I read them on repeat”), Kayla’s Sapphic chemistry with Kate McKinnon’s “Bombshell” character, Jess Carr (“I secretly want a spinoff movie where Kayla and Jess go on a road trip with their opposing political views and blossoming romance”) and LuckyChap’s office (“It just feels like a nice house!”) — it’s easy to picture that drunken, brainstorming meal.
Upon its August 2016 release, “Suicide Squad” was greeted by some of the worst reviews for a comic book movie ever, though critics and fans agreed that Robbie was the best thing in it. The film made $746 million worldwide, a sequel was greenlit — critics be damned — and LuckyChap signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros.
As for Robbie’s vision for “Birds of Prey,” Hodson says: “She really wanted to see Harley with girlfriends, Harley in a girl gang. Harley is such a naturally sociable character. And I think there was just a general longing to see girls together on screen — women being friends.”
Ackerley agrees about Robbie’s motivations. “She has a group of friends in the U.K.; she has a group of friends in Australia; she has a group of girlfriends here,” he says. “They live fun and vivacious lives. And she was like, ‘I don’t see that on screen.’” She also wanted the film to be rated R, for which, since “Deadpool” hadn’t yet come out, there was no precedent — and “it took a bit of convincing,” Robbie says.
Robbie and Hodson would meet to watch movies, and to discuss “comics that we love, different movies we love,” Robbie says. They would look at something like “Trainspotting”: “How did they achieve this feeling of beautiful chaos, but within it, everything feels satisfying?” she wonders. One of their sessions lasted 13 hours, Hodson recalls. “I was at the keyboard; she was doing story cards. She is remarkable in that sense. I certainly don’t know of any other actors like her who would do that.”
The two got along so well that when Hodson had an idea for improving the dismal numbers for women screenwriters, they decided to create the Lucky Exports Pitch Program, a four-week writers’ room for six writers; four of the selected were women of color. (Hodson herself is half-Taiwanese.) Each came in with kernels of ideas, and now, with the program having just wrapped, all have solid pitches — and Hodson and LuckyChap attached as producers. “We are going to go out and pitch to all the studios and hopefully get them sold, and get them made,” Robbie says.
When it came to finding a director for “Birds of Prey,” Robbie and the other producers — who by that point included Kroll, the longtime Warner Bros. marketing chief executive who now runs Kroll & Co. Entertainment, and “I, Tonya” producer Bryan Unkeless — were committed to trying to hire a woman. But as with “I, Tonya,” directed by Craig Gillespie, they wanted to choose the best person for the job. In the end, Yan, a Chinese American director whose sole movie credit was the 2018 indie feature “Dead Pigs,” sold them. “She spoke to the aesthetic color palette, how she wanted to shoot action, how she wanted costume design to be reflective of the characters’ personalities,” Robbie says. “It was perfect.”
The movie, as its subtitle implies, starts after Harley’s breakup with the Joker. Robbie confirms that Leto’s incarnation of the character doesn’t appear, not even as a cameo. As far as that other “Joker” goes, Robbie thinks Joaquin Phoenix “did a phenomenal job.” But “Birds of Prey,” she says, isn’t at all like the Todd Phillips film: “I feel like the ‘Joker’ film was much more grounded. Ours is different. It’s heightened.”
“Birds of Prey” will be the first of five tentpole movies released in 2020 directed by women: Niki Caro’s “Mulan,” Cate Shortland’s “Black Widow,” Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984” and Chloé Zhao’s “The Eternals” are the others. It’s reflective of Hollywood’s glacial move toward progress, Kroll says, in which “women are part of every conversation now.” Kroll loves how “Birds of Prey” turned out, calling its characters “nuanced” and saying the film has “a beautiful sense of place.”
“But at the end of the day,” she adds, “it’s a really fun, badass group of women getting together. It’s a ride. It’s a crazy ride.”
On the experience of working with Robbie as a producer, Kroll says: “If she were not such a gifted actor, and if she decided she didn’t want to do that anymore, she could be a full-time producer. She’s really good at it.”
Kroll is one of many colleagues who speak admiringly about Robbie. Roach raves about her “Bombshell” performance. “She’s very precise, and she’s worked out the craft of it all. But then once that’s worked out, an amazing sort of heart and spirit and soulfulness all kick in on top of the craft,” he says. “It’s really a wonder to experience it. I felt very, very fortunate to be on set.”
Toward the end of “Bombshell,” Theron’s Megyn Kelly, seeking out other possible Ailes victims, approaches Kayla. “You should report Roger,” she says. “You’ll be protected.” The scene takes a turn when Kayla, whom Megyn thinks will express gratitude, instead accuses her of complicity. “Did you think what your silence would mean for us? The rest of us?” Kayla asks, choking on her anger and sorrow.
Robbie gave a lot of thought to how Kayla would feel in that moment, balancing how much she “idolizes” Megyn against her sense of betrayal. “I wanted it to have heat behind it. I wanted to have real accusation behind it,” she says. Roach was surprised by how the scene played out. “She had a very emotional reaction to it, and apologized after: ‘I just got caught up in it.’ And I said, ‘That was amazing.’ We tried some less emotional takes, but it just was never as powerful.”
“I think that was just her emotions coming out in an unexpected way. And it was really fun to play that with Charlize,” Robbie says.
Kayla — who says things like “Fox is how we do church!” — could have been cartoonish. But not in Robbie’s hands.
“I think her performance in this movie is a very rare performance,” Theron says. “I’ve seen this movie 50 times now, if not more, and every single time she gets me. It’s just ridiculous — and I’m dead inside! And she gets me every f—ing time.”
“Knives Out,” the acclaimed whodunit from director Rian Johnson, hit a notable box office milestone this weekend, crossing $100 million in the U.S. and $200 million worldwide. It’s another triumph for original content — a form of entertainment once thought to be imperiled by the ubiquity of franchise fare.
“Knives Out” became the de facto choice for families without young kids over the holiday season. Lionsgate’s motion picture co-chairman Joe Drake said the film had a broader appeal than the studio initially expected. Media Rights Capital and T-Street co-produced and co-financed “Knives Out,” which cost $40 million.
“On paper, you could say that [‘Knives Out’] could live on a streaming service,” Drake told Variety. “But when you take the screenplay Rian Johnson wrote and the cast he put together, you deliver the kind of experience which is dramatic, thrilling, really funny and really suspenseful. It hits all those beats that make for the theatrical ride.”
To compete with superhero tentpoles and big-budget blockbusters, Drake says it takes a mix of “the science and the art of our business.”
“We’re focusing on theatrical audiences, looking at genres and concepts for a combination of what we believe can create urgency to see on a Friday night,” he said. “There’s data and art to making creative decisions.”
Over the Christmas frame, “Knives Out” generated another $16 million at the domestic box office, pushing its North American tally to $110 million. Since opening on Thanksgiving, the film has made $214.6 million at the global box office. China propelled international receipts ($27.9 million), followed by the United Kingdom ($13.7 million), Australia ($7.4 million), France ($6.2 million) and Russia ($5.1 million). “Knives Out” opens in its final markets, Germany and Japan, in January.
“Knives Out” boasts a star-studded cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Ana de Armas. The crowd-pleasing murder mystery is a different kind of family film, centering on a gathering that goes wrong after renowned author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies on the evening of his 85th birthday.
“We really believe in the audience,” Drake said. “For ‘Knives Out,’ it really captured the imagination of the audience. They have been selective, but they clearly have a big appetite.”
Charlize Theron nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in BOMBSHELL ...Read Full News
Margot Robbie nominated for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role in BOMBSHELL ...Read Full News
BOMBSHELL nominated for Best Makeup and Haistyling at the Academy Awards ...Read Full News
It’s no wonder that, for Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, the fandom is mutual. Both left th...Read Full News
Margot Robbie has excelled at playing real people on screen. In 2019, she played Sharon Tate i...Read Full News
“Knives Out,” the acclaimed whodunit from director Rian Johnson, hit a notable box ...Read Full News
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