Margot Robbie Channeled An Octopus And A Honey Badger To Play Babylon's Nellie

Hollywood is nothing if not self-referential, and the chaotic, at times surreal exploration of filmmaking is a movie genre unto itself. Director Damien Chazelle has long been interested in the specific type of ambition that fuels artistry and Hollywood dreams, as seen in his films "Whiplash" and "La La Land." For Chazelle's latest film "Babylon," the director takes a considerably less starry-eyed look at Hollywood by exploring its most debauched, depraved era: the 1920s.

"Babylon" boasts a stacked cast that includes Brad Pitt, Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, and breakout star Diego Calva. Margot Robbie stars as Nellie LaRoy, a composite of old actresses and "it girls" like Jeanne Eagels, Alma Rubens, Joan Crawford, and Clara Bow (via Time). Robbie may have looked to these women to channel her character's struggle with addiction and difficulty transitioning from silent films, but she also looked to an unlikely source for more inspiration.

Robbie assigns animal counterparts to all of her characters

In an appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Margot Robbie revealed that she looks to the animal kingdom for cinematic inspiration. At the recommendation of her movement coach, Robbie assigns her characters to corresponding animals. "It's helpful because you do all this research, and you read all these books and watch all these films, and get all the facts about the real-life people at this time," she told Clarkson. "Sometimes your head gets so clouded with statistics and facts and the history, but if you just revert back to the animal, then you can just be really, really instinctual."

For her performance as Nellie LaRoy in "Babylon," Robbie specifically channeled an octopus and a honey badger. For the latter creature, Robbie cited the scene where she's eating ravenously, as well as the snake fight scene. "The snake fight scene, that's all honey badger," she said, remarking upon the scrappy animal's tendency to spar with snakes and lions. "They have really thick skin, and [Nelly] fights anything and anyone at the drop of a hat, and [she's] playful."

Robbie admitted that she's been utilizing her animal technique for years. "It's something I actually started doing when I was on 'I, Tonya,' she revealed. "I was a pitbull [for 'I, Tonya'] because they're very misunderstood ... I wanted the character to feel like the world was bearing down on her all the time. But then on the ice, she's a mustang, like a wild horse." Fans will have to wait to learn which animal inspires Robbie's performance in the upcoming "Barbie."