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The Worst Things Margot Robbie Has Done For Her Roles

Margot Robbie burst into household name status thanks to her work in Martin Scorsese's 2013 drama "The Wolf of Wall Street," playing Naomi LaPaglia, also known as the "Duchess of Bay Ridge." But like most overnight successes, Robbie had already been working for years by the time of her breakout. 

The actress got her start on the Melbourne, Australia, soap "Neighbours" in 2008, but she always had her eye on Hollywood. After two years on the soap, she departed for Los Angeles. Since Robbie's debut, she has been working seemingly nonstop. She created her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, in 2014, as she was frustrated at only reading for roles that had her as the girlfriend or wife. As she told Harper's Bazaar, "When I was trying to make my name as an actress, creative roles for women were limited.

In 2016, she delivered another iconic performance as Harley Quinn in "Suicide Squad." Since then, she has done her own stunts for dramatic roles like Tonya Harding in "I, Tonya" and dove deep into research for films like "Bombshell." Still, in interviews, Robbie has revealed that some of these shoots were brutal and, in fact, there were things she wouldn't be interested in repeating. Let's dive in to learn the worst things Robbie has had to do for her films.

She once slapped Leonardo DiCaprio

Since moving to the United States was always part of her career plan, Margot Robbie knew just when to touch down in Los Angeles: right at the start of pilot season. "I'd spent the last three years on 'Neighbours' saving my money and learning the dialect, just practicing my American accent so I could really hit the ground running when I got there," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I'd saved enough money to be unemployed for like two to three years." She was quickly cast in the short-lived network series "Pan Am" as Laura Cameron, a woman who leaves her fiancée at the altar to fly the skies as a Pan-Am stewardess. Sadly, the show would only last one season, as it struggled to find its footing. 

Robbie then submitted an audition tape to the casting director of "The Wolf of Wall Street," which led to her being called in to read with Leonardo DiCaprio, who would play lead Jordan Belfort. Robbie knew she needed to do something to stand out during the chemistry test, so she and DiCaprio quickly started going off script, improvising up a storm. "In my head, I was like, 'You have literally 30 seconds left in this room and if you don't do something impressive nothing will ever come of it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, just take it,'" Robbie told People.  One of the lines he says to her in the scene is, "You should be happy to have a husband like me. Now get over here and kiss me." So as Robbie stepped closer, she thought about it and instead slapped him. Both Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio were thrilled with the bold move.  

She laid on fake money, and it was painful

In another pain point centering on "The Wolf of Wall Street," Margot Robbie had to shoot several sex scenes — one of which was pretty excruciating. The scene in question has Robbie's character Naomi enticing Jordan while fully naked. Robbie told The New York Times that the morning of the shoot, "I was petrified. I'd come to work that morning and I was shaking, so scared, like, 'I can't do this.'" Director Martin Scorsese originally gave Robbie the option to wear a robe, but Robbie said no. "'The whole point of Naomi is that her body is her only form of currency in this world ... I said [my character] wouldn't. She has to be naked. She's laying her cards on the table." Robbie was nervous, however. The actress, who was 23 at the time, took a few tequila shots to calm her nerves. 

In a later scene from "The Wolf of Wall Street," the Duchess of Bay Ridge and Belfort have sex on a bed of money. Somehow that scene was more brutal on Robbie than the fully disrobed one because afterward, Robbie had small paper cuts all over her back. Turns out the prop money they were using was tougher than the real deal. "I got a million paper cuts on my back from all that money! It's not as glamorous as it sounds," she told The Daily Beast.

She sat for hours of hair and makeup

Wearing long acrylic nails helped Margot Robbie get into character for "The Wolf of Wall Street." When her acting coach suggested that she pretend like she had those nails, she told The New York Times, "all of a sudden like I'm talking like... Oh, I'm doing the accent, all because of the nails." But the processing of donning the nails over the course of the shooting schedule was pretty awful, Robbie admitted. "It was incredibly inconvenient for my personal life. I don't know how other women manage. The most mundane tasks were suddenly monumental tasks — unbuttoning buttons, texting, tying shoe laces, getting lids off things... I couldn't believe how much it affected my life, it was so difficult," Robbie told Grazia Daily

Another important character element was her spray tan and heaps of makeup. "Anytime I thought 'oh my God that looks horrible,' I'd say 'do it' ... I don't like wearing lipstick, or heaps of eye shadow, and they were staples for the character," Robbie explained. Between the heavy makeup and hair, Robbie spent at least two hours in the hair and makeup chair every day. 

She fell into a vat of paint

Margot Robbie has gone on record about her love of amoral characters. Whether it's Annie in "Terminal" or Tonya Harding in "I, Tonya," she likes playing characters who have their own center of morality, their own sense of right and wrong. So it's no wonder she was drawn to chaos maker Harley Quinn. "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 told Variety

Robbie brought the iconic Harley Quinn to life in 2016's "Suicide Squad." The movie shows brief glimpses of Quinn's origin story as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who was the psychiatrist to the Joker while he was locked up in Arkham Asylum. As part of her role, she jumped into a giant vat of chemicals, turning her skin bright white. The chemical vat in real life was a giant vat of paint, and Robbie did not have fun creating the moment.

"That chemical [scene] was the most unpleasant thing I've ever done in my entire life," Robbie told The Washington Post. "It was like this gluggy paint stuff that was so far in my ears and up my nose, and I was choking on it underwater, and I couldn't breathe, and I tried to open my eyes, and it would glaze over my eyeballs, and I could only see white. It was horrible."

She herniated a disc

Margot Robbie hadn't heard of Tonya Harding before "I, Tonya," but when the script landed on her desk at LuckyChap, she was hooked on the story of the disgraced Olympic skater. She also relished the challenge of portraying the skater, blades and all. Robbie spent 20 hours a week at the rink practicing for the movie, eventually developing a herniated disc. She practiced with skate choreographer Sarah Kawahara, who also worked on the film "Blades of Glory." According to Kawahara, the only time they used doubles was the big jumps and spins. "I'm proud to say that Margot was able to do the first minute of Tonya's [1994] Olympic routine," Kawahara told ESPN

It was grueling work, especially given the film's shooting schedule. Robbie ultimately spent five months practicing on ice in addition to shouldering producer responsibilities. The results speak for themselves. Much of the skating seen in "I, Tonya" is really Margot Robbie. Robbie's work on the film led to her receiving an Oscar nomination as well as a nomination for the BAFTA. Yet, the work Robbie did on the rink seemed overshadowed by the physical changes she underwent for the role, from the permed wings to the prosthetics used on her face and neck, with ET saying the actress looked "utterly unrecognizable." 

She gave a twirl

The movie "Bombshell," with Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, follows the stories of several women inside Fox News as they face sexual harassment from Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow). "I was pretty rattled by the time I got to the end of [Charles Randolph's] script, to be honest," Robbie told Variety. While Theron and Kidman play characters taken from real-life (Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, respectively), Robbie plays the fictional Kayla Pospisil, a young upstart at the station. Robbie's character is an amalgamation of several employees who were harassed by Ailes. To prepare for the role, Robbie set up a Twitter account to follow young conservatives and get a better understanding of her character. 

But the worst scenes were the ones that depicted the type of abuse women suffered at Fox News. In one grueling scene, Kayla goes into Ailes' office. Slowly, the conversation shifts from purely professional to something much darker. He asks her to twirl for him. And then, he asks her to lift her skirt. Robbie's acting in this is impeccable; her face freezes. She slowly complies. Her skill in this role led to her Golden Globes nomination for best supporting actress.

Screenwriter Charles Randolph said in a Vulture interview, "Jay and I had a couple of times where we were like, 'Maybe we can tone this down. Maybe we can take this shot out, take that breathing down.' And the women on the team universally said, 'Do not touch a frame. You know that this is very important to this experience that the audience goes through it being as gut-wrenching as it was.'"

She dealt with dirt

Based on the book "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan" by Kim Barker, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" follows Tina Fey as she leaves behind her dead-end job and heads to Afghanistan. While there she meets British journalist Tanya Vanderpoel, played by Margot Robbie. An important element of the story was the friendship between the two women on screen. "It was important to me that it wasn't just a knee-jerk rivalry because that's not my experience," Fey told USA Today. "I've definitely worked in places where it's a lot of dudes and very few women. The women stick together, so I wanted that to feel truthful."

The actors went to New Mexico to shoot the movie. One of the challenges for Robbie and Fey was to feel like the stakes were as high as they would be halfway across the world. But one thing they did have to suffer through: so much. To mimic the dust storms in Kabul, the filmmakers would throw dust at them leading them to get a nasty cough.

Unfortunately, the movie was panned by critics. "The narrative often feels more like a raunchy sex comedy than a bird's-eye view of the on-the-job hazards that the actual Barker routinely faced," Susan Wloszczyna wrote

She roller skated behind a car

When "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" got made, it used the breakup of Harley and the Joker (aka Mr. J) as a jumping-off point. It also was one of the first comic-book movies to have an R rating. In many ways, from fashion to story, it builds on the character Robbie brought to life in the first "Suicide Squad" movie. Robbie's production company also co-produced the movie. Reviewer Max Weiss described the movie as "Kinetic, silly, candy-colored, and hyperviolent, 'Birds of Prey' is a serious treat for fans of comic book films."

In "Birds of Prey," Margot Robbie did many of her own stunts. In one behind-the-scenes look, viewers watch Robbie escape from the police station, rolling and kicking her way out. At every turn, Robbie seemed to do the most intense physical work, so it's no surprise then that Robbie took on the challenge of roller skating behind one of the cars. One of the producers, Bryan Unkeless, was terrified for her. "You think one wobble and thing could go bad, she could go under the car, and it's like, we were so relieved to have that shot... And she would never admit to being scared," he told ComicBook.com.

She unlocked handcuffs with her feet

This next stunt might not be the worst, but it sure seems like one of the coolest. Margot Robbie reprised her role as Harley Quinn in the 2021 film "The Suicide Squad," directed by James Gunn. In this film, Harley Quinn has been taken hostage and needs to escape in order to rejoin the rest of the gang of fellow antiheroes. Locked in a room with her hands handcuffed above her head, Harley manages to kill the guard by wrapping her legs around his neck. And then, she uses her toes to grab the key from his pocket and unlock her handcuffs. "I'm very dexterous with my toes," she laughed in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "I never thought she would be able to do [it]," Gunna dded.  "She is like a human swiss army knife." 

After Harley escapes, she has to shoot her way to freedom. As she does, flowers explode behind her. This is an homage to a video game that Gunn previously worked on called "Lollipop Chainsaw." "I always loved the way that the hearts and beautiful little things came out of people mixed with blood," he told Collider. "So, a lot of it goes back to that, the aesthetic of mixing this horrible gore with Harley's starry-eyed way of looking at life and creating Harley-vision basically."

She became a queen

In order to become Elizabeth I in "Mary Queen of Scots," Margot Robbie had to undergo quite a physical transformation. Many outlets seemed to dread the idea, insisting that she was too pretty to do it. But Robbie relished the idea. "Normally there's someone who steps in and says, 'No, keep all the girls looking pretty!' But Josie Rourke, the director, was keen to explore how Queen Elizabeth's looks affected her relationships, and everyone had the guts to do it" she told Harper's Bazaar. Playing Elizabeth I is part of a legacy of showing her acting capabilities. Robbie is constantly working to outrun the label "bombshell" — as Robbie told Vogue. "I hate that word. I hate it — so much." Robbie saw that, to Hollywood, the "worst" thing she could do was to hide her beauty. But taking a page out of Bette Davis's playbook, who also played Elizabeth I in 1955's "The Virgin Queen" under layers of makeup and wigs, Robbie donned the regal regalia and acted her heart out. 

However, initially, it was a role she almost didn't accept. When director Josie Rourke originally reached out, Robbie thought she wasn't good enough to bring the Queen of England to life. But Rourke, who had seen "The Wolf of Wall Street" was hooked by Robbie's talent. "I found [her] completely fascinating," she told The Hollywood Reporter

Robbie, in her classic way, then dove into deeply researching the time period and developing a connection to the queen herself. "I fell in love with the period and with Elizabeth. She's a very tragic character, to me," she told Screen Daily. The rest, well, it's film history now.