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The untold truth of Margot Robbie

You just can't escape Margot Robbie these days: She's taken over everything from the arthouse to the cineplex — and she's set to star in some of the most high-profile productions on Hollywood's current production slate. Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, in which she portrays Sharon Tate at the height of her glamour and fame, is enjoying particularly strong buzz, while Birds of Prey is sending a fluorescent pink glow along the horizon of Hollywood, promising Robbie's return to the lovably loony Harley Quinn.

But there's a lot about Robbie you might not know. In fact, this screen talent, fashion icon, and producer is a multifaceted woman who's just as comfortable playing ice hockey as she is delivering self-professed bad tattoos. Brush up on your knowledge of the star who made a skeptical world reconsider Tonya Harding before she faces you with the tragedy that ended classic Hollywood — and, given Robbie's skill, manages to make you cry into your popcorn. This is the untold truth of Margot Robbie.

Margot Robbie: from farm girl to star

Margot Robbie is Australian, a fact that often surprises even ardent fans. It's a testament to her skill that this central fact of her biography is so well-camouflaged. People think of Robbie with Tonya Harding's flat intonation, or Harley Quinn's charmingly nasal sing-song. They don't realize that she's as positively Aussie as they come.

Robbie grew up in the Gold Coast hinterland, part of the state of Queensland and known worldwide for its natural beauty. Everything from hikes through the rain forest, wine tasting, and bird-watching are pursued by the tourists who flock to this green and pleasant land — but Robbie spent much of her childhood working. One of four children raised by a single mother, Robbie grew up traveling between her mother's house and her grandparents' farm. As her mother's family raised grain and her father's sugarcane and mangoes, she grew up tending to a wide variety of crops. Funnily enough, this ended up helping her film Z for Zachariah, a post-apocalyptic drama. As she joked, "I already knew how to drive a tractor and milk cows."

Margot Robbie's soapy past

Margot Robbie's had a meteoric rise in the eyes of most of the world — from The Wolf of Wall Street to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, she's dominated the box office for the past few years with a treasure trove of distinctive roles. Crass figure skating legend? Done. Queen Elizabeth I at the height of her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots? Check. Sharon Tate at the apex of her career? Coming soon to a theater near you. Given her 2020-and-beyond slate is filled up with roles like the eponymous doll in Barbie, she doesn't show any sign of slowing down soon.

But in her native Australia, it took all that buzz just to get people to stop thinking of her as a soap star. Cast in 2008 as Donna Freedman on Neighbours, Robbie saw the character through from guest part to recurring role. A confident, slightly goofy character, Robbie made her into a fan favorite audiences loved to watch mature from teen fangirl into fiery young woman. She did it so well, in fact, that she garnered a Logie Award for Popular Actress and acclaim for portraying Freedman's bisexuality with compassion and courage. To most of the world, Robbie is a bona fide movie star, but to many Australians, she'll always be Donna.

Margot Robbie: passionate feminist

As an star rocketing to fame in the midst of #MeToo, Robbie has entered a Hollywood torn asunder. But she's not intimidated by these discussions — in fact, Robbie has planted her flag firmly as a fierce advocate for women in film. In an interview with Vogue, she revealed how much she hates being regarded as a pretty face. "I hate it — so much," she admitted. "I feel like a brat saying that because there are worse things, but I'm not a bombshell."

Throughout her growing body of eclectic work in Hollywood, she's made a point of empowering as many women as she can. Erin Benach, costume designer on Robbie's upcoming Birds of Prey, noted that the film's wardrobe — "less male gaze-y" in Robbie's words — is "what happens when you have a female producer, director, writer." As the world prepares to watch her heft Harley's cartoon mallet a second time, Robbie's made one thing very clear: She's not backing down from her principles any time soon.

Margot Robbie is a definite dog person

Margot Robbie has been married to director Tom Ackerley for years, but her most passionate devotion as of late has been reserved for four-legged friends. Meet Boo Radley, Robbie's first rescue dog, and prepare to fall in love as deeply as she has. A floppy-eared puppy, Boo spends as much time as he can gamboling through greenery and, occasionally, making a break for it and leading his famous owner on a chase through Los Angeles. In 2018, Robbie and Acklerley also adopted another dog named Belle, who began as a foster and ended up as a permanent pet. As Robbie told Harper's Bazaar on the difference between dog and cat people,"I've often thought that it's about how you like to be loved. If you like dogs, you like big displays of outward devotion. Cats are like a sly, flirty grin across a bar." Robbie's a big personality, and she wants the dogs to match.

Margot Robbie: hockey fan -- and player

When you think of Australia and its people, you think of sunny skies, pristine beaches, and expansive desert plains in shades of coral and umber. You don't really think of snow or ice, let alone the winter sports that require them. But Robbie's career has taken her far from her home, and she's changed with the cultures she's been ensconced in — witness her love of that most chilly of sports, ice hockey. As she told Film.com, "I always wanted to play ice hockey back in Australia, I'm not sure why, but we didn't have any ice where I lived. It was very hot, a coastal town." Upon moving to the United States, Robbie was able to fulfill her dream of skating with the best of the them: "I play on a team but I'm definitely the worst on the team. I'm not so good at the ice skating part. The hockey is good, but the ice skating I need to work on." Not only is she a player, however, but a diehard New York Rangers fan as well. They are, in her words, "the best team ever." Those who disagree, keep in mind: she has a hockey stick and she's not afraid to use it.

Tarantino cast Margot Robbie after she wrote him a letter

The routes to stardom are many and varied. Sometimes all an actor really needs is one chance to show their stuff. Sometimes they're the right person's friend. Sometimes they have a unique skill no one else can offer. And sometimes, they're just enormously, heart-warmingly earnest. Robbie has walked more than one path on her way to stardom, but that last tack taken is perhaps the most important

As she told Vogue, "I've always been a huge — huge — Tarantino fan." So huge, in fact, that she vowed to send him a letter expressing her appreciation once she thought she'd gained the prominence to do so. After producing and starring in the award-winning I, Tonya, she felt she had the backing to reach out to the legendary director. "So I wrote him," she recalled, "and said, 'I adore your films, and I would love to work with you in some capacity. Or any capacity.'" Tarantino was charmed, Robbie was game, and the exchange led to her starring as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Sometimes, all it takes is an honest word.

Margot Robbie isn't just a star —she's a producer

One thing Margot Robbie's biography makes very clear is her drive. It pushes her into ever more demanding acting roles, fascinating character choices, and even some surprising hobbies. But it's not confined to her work in front of the camera — Robbie has thrown herself wholeheartedly into production as well. Founded in 2017, her LuckyChap Entertainment production company hit the ground running in a major way. Though Birds of Prey (subtitled And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will be their most high-profile early release, LuckyChap has already sold a half-hour series called Dollface to Hulu, wrapped production on indie thriller Dreamland, and is gearing up for Barbie, starring Robbie as the titular doll. Being part of production is the dream of many actors, but the passion, dedication, and sheer tenacity it takes deters most. Not Robbie, though — if anything, LuckyChap's social media reveals an ever-expanding slate of projects, nearly all of them centering around women. As Robbie has been wowing audiences for years with her performing acumen, chances are she'll flourish behind the camera as well.

Margot Robbie pitched Birds of Prey herself

Suicide Squad's lackluster reviews didn't matter much when it came to Harley Quinn. A few years since its release, Halloween is still a gathering of Daddy's Little Monsters all sporting Robbie's signature two-tone pigtails, Quinn is set to claim an animated series all her own, and Robbie will star in Birds of Prey without the Joker in tow. Robbie isn't just starring in and producing Birds of Prey, however — she developed and pitched it herself to DC after Suicide Squad's debut. "I pitched the idea of an R-rated girl gang film including Harley, because I was like, 'Harley needs friends.' Harley loves interacting with people, so don't ever make her do a standalone film," Robbie remarked in 2018. "She's got to be with other people, it should be a girl gang. I wasn't seeing enough girl gangs on screen, especially in the action space. So that was always a big part of it." As snippets of the inventive costume design and casting leak into a Harley-hungry internet, anticipation only proves Robbie right: The world wants superheroines, and she's the woman to deliver it to them.

Margot Robbie is a people person

It's not just Harley who loves to be surrounded by others. Margot Robbie is a social butterfly, and has engineered her life to surround her with as many people as possible. Her Los Angeles abode isn't just home to Robbie, Ackerley, and their canine companions, but also to her brother, her cousin, and her cousin's husband. "I think that just sums up the person that she is," childhood friend and current creative partner Sophia Kerr remarked, after musing on the moment Robbie realized she could buy a home and put all her nearest and dearest within it. "She will buy a compound on a whim, so that her close friends could live near her." Said home is known to host lovely brunches, pool parties, and all other manner of get-togethers. One thing remains consistent across all gatherings: They're full of people and Robbie can be found at the center of it all.

Margot Robbie, budding tattoo artist

Suicide Squad's production and promotion was as much of an event as the movie itself. Jared Leto shocked his castmates with disturbing, in-character gifts. Posters featured everything from psychedelic cereal bowls to mushroom clouds. Perhaps most dramatic of all were the tattoos — many of the cast, reportedly very close-knit, got matching "SKWAD" tattoos to commemorate their time together. This sparked an interest, and now Robbie has given tattoos to a number of friends, colleagues, and loved ones using a tattoo gun she bought on eBay. Though she doesn't claim much in the way of skill (and in fact alleges that she might be "getting worse"), her interest in the art of ink is real. If, like buddy Cara Delevigne, you're willing to get into Robbie's chair, you might just find yourself with smiley faces on the bottom of your toes. They tend to rub off in a few days, according to Robbie, due to the nature of the soles of the feet, so hey — why not do what Harley would do and take a wild chance?

Suicide Squad taught Margot Robbie to hold her breath for five minutes

Actors garner a lot of odd skills over the course of their careers. Robbie is no exception: Suicide Squad had her doing "a tremendous amount of her own stunts," according to producer Richard Suckle. "I went on set and I was watching the monitor and the camera was moving but she was doing something that I could've sworn, for sure, she had to be in a harness, and, I kid you not, she was not in a harness." Suckle refers here to the infamous elevator scene in which Harley runs up the side of an elevator wall and backflips onto a bad guy. That's right: That was Robbie herself, defying gravity in spiked heels and a face full of makeup.

But that's not even the most impressive feat she pulled off as part of DC's zany ode to the scum of the superheroic world. In order to film a pivotal underwater scene, Robbie worked with a free diver and learned to hold her breath for an extended period. "I got to five minutes and I was like, 'You know what? This is above and beyond what I thought I'd get to. I'm good, I'm good with five,'" she told Jimmy Kimmel, when describing how intensely she pushed herself to go beyond what the crew expected of her. Robbie might play a clown, but she certainly doesn't train like one.

The secret to Margot Robbie's Wolf of Wall Street performance: tequila and acrylic nails

Some actors live as their characters for long stretches of time. Some keep journals to develop the role in an intimate way. Some explore meditation and yoga. And some, like Margot Robbie, find truly unusual routes no textbook or Oscar winner could ever have dreamed up.

Take Robbie's character in The Wolf of Wall Street, Naomi LaPaglia. Naomi is basically a life-size Barbie, both in her beautiful blonde looks and the way her husband, Leonardo DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort, treats her like more of a possession than a person. Robbie ended up connecting to the character best through, of all things, manicures. After acting coach Nancy Banks told her to imagine having just had her nails done, Robbie found herself immediately able to channel the character's brash Brooklyn attitude, and she ultimately requested acrylic nails to further her performance. "You can't tuck your hair back the way you would," she told the New York Times, "you can't wipe away tears the way you would, because you've got nails that are an inch long." That's not the only addition that helped her performance along, however: She indulged in a little liquid courage for her nude scenes. "I did three shots of tequila and then took my clothes off and did the scene and I was fine," she remarked, "Acting 101: three shots of tequila and you'll be fine."

Margot Robbie almost played a very different superheroine

In the age of the omnipresent superhero, more than one actor has pulled double (or even triple) duty. Chris Evans, Marvel's beloved Captain America, played the Human Torch in 2005's Fantastic Four. Samuel L. Jackson played the sort of psychotic monster Nick Fury works to thwart as the Octopus in 2008's The Spirit. Ben Affleck might not be Batman any longer, but he'll probably always be the only guy who can say he played both the Dark Knight and Daredevil.

Margot Robbie never actually got that far, but she came close when she passed on playing Sue Storm in 2015's Fantastic Four. "I didn't really resonate with the script," she told the New York Daily News, though she did go on to say she enjoyed meeting with director Josh Trank. "I guess it's part of the game: Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some." A mature response from a well-mannered thespian, but one wonders if she might also feel as though she dodged a bullet. Fantastic Four, in which Kate Mara played Sue Storm, ended up being critically panned and a box office bomb, with no further installments in sight. But hey, at least Michael B. Jordan, who played the Human Torch, went on to critical and commercial success as Black Panther's Killmonger.

Margot Robbie refused to lose weight for Tarzan

Margot Robbie is no stranger to the physical demands of the actor's life. She learned to ice skate like an Olympian for the title role in I, Tonya, in addition to rigorous weight training. Harley Quinn had her strapping on ankle weights and exploring pilates. But there's a line she won't cross, and she found it while preparing for her role in The Legend of Tarzan.

Producers wanted her Jane Porter, Tarzan's legendary love interest, to look a bit more svelte than Robbie's natural form. Robbie pushed back, arguing that "It's the 19th century [in the film] — if she's got a bit of weight on her, it's probably a good thing. I'm not going to look thin just for the sake of it." Robbie got her way, and her Jane Porter is a fierce delight to behold. Plus, as she laughingly detailed, this allowed her to explore as many London pubs as she could after wrapping up a day of filming. Talk about having your pint and drinking it too.