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Six definitive films: The ultimate beginner’s guide to Margot Robbie

“Playing a bad guy is always more fun than playing the good guy.” – Margot Robbie

Bridging the gap between mainstream film and the independent sphere, actress Margot Robbie has come from a regular role on classic soap Neighbours, to the heights of Hollywood. First appearing in two low-budget thrillers Vigilante and I.C.U during her time in high school, she would describe her first experience of being on a film set as a “dream come true”, as she made her way up the acting ladder to eventually make her big-screen break with Richard Curtis’ About Time.

Receiving acclaim from around the world, filmmaker Martin Scorsese described the actress as having “a unique audacity that surprises and challenges and just burns like a brand into every character she plays. […] Margot is stunning in all she is and all she does, and she will astonish us forever”. All it took was Robbie’s silver screen debut for her to quickly catapult to international success, receiving two separate academy award nominations for her performances in both 2018s I, Tonya, as well as 2019s Bombshell.

Having already worked with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Richard Curtis, Robbie is well on course to be one of the most defining actresses of the generation.

Let’s take a look at the six films that helped her on her journey…

Margot Robbie’s six definitive films:

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

Although Richard Curtis’ About Time may have been the first major feature film to put her on the map, in the same year she would appear in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and really take her own cultural prominence by the scruff of its neck. 

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, Scorsese’s film tracked the rise of the wealthy stock-broker, from living the high life, to his fall into crime, corruption and criminal charges. Margot Robbie plays Belfort’s later wife, Naomi Lapaglia, and steals nearly every scene she appears in, dwarfing the film’s lead Leonardo DiCaprio. It was her dominant personality in Scorsese’s insane drama that would truly elevate her to stardom.

Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)

From Robbie’s 2013 performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, suddenly she became Hollywood’s hot property, being offered roles in prominent successes including Z for Zachariah, The Legend of Tarzan, and Focus, where she would appear alongside Will Smith.

Though it was in 2016 when she would undertake her most significant cultural role as Harley Quinn, the love interest of iconic movie supervillain The Joker, in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Although the film was heavily panned by critics around the world, Margot Robbie’s performance as the perky Harley Quinn was widely recognised as the film’s strongest aspect. Inspiring cosplays from fans around the world, to recognise her character’s influence simply look at 2016s Comic-con and the popular Halloween costumes of the same year.

I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

Establishing herself as a powerful lead actress, from her dominating performance in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, to her scene-stealing portrayal of the wicked Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie put herself front and centre for her next film, 2017s I, Tonya

Directed by Craig Gillespie, Margot Robbie’s real-life depiction of figure-skater Tonya Harding, who infamously implicated an attack on competitor Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympic trials, is a powerhouse performance, perfectly combining dramatic sincerity with unhinged humour. Earning herself an Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, I, Tonya was a public statement to the rest of the industry that she wanted to be recognised amongst the great leading actresses of a generation.

Mary Queen of Scots – (Josie Rourke, 2018)

Robbie continued to remain influential in the film industry following her Oscar nomination, appearing in drama Goodbye Christopher Robin, and fantasy projects, The Terminal and Slaughterhouse Rulez both in 2018.

In an adaptation of the life of the former queen of Scotland, and more accurately the book by John Guy, Margot Robbie would again take a leading role in the gorgeously depicted period drama alongside fellow prominent actress Saorise Ronan. In her compelling portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I, Robbie takes on a mammoth acting task though manages to successfully tie the character and the film down. Here, Robbie once more elicits her powerful acting dominance.

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

Just one year later, following a forgettable flop in 2018s Dreamland, Robbie would once again take on a real-life character, this time depicting actress Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. 

Margot Robbie’s role as the tragically fated Sharon Tate quietly bubbled away in the background of Tarantino’s provocative picture, though remained pivotal in the director’s story of Hollywood’s Golden Age. It’s an enigmatic film where Robbie’s Tate is the key to the puzzle, eliciting great sympathy in the role, she helps to transform the film from a mere piece of indulgent violence and into a genuinely thoughtful reflection on Hollywood’s troubled past.

Bombshell (Jay Roach, 2019)

Such takes us to one of Margot Robbie’s most recent films, 2019s Bombshell, a film which would see her receive her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and continue the conversation of the #MeToo movement. 

Based on the true story of a group of women who take on Fox News’ Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network, Robbie plays Kayla Pospisil, one of the three women who would file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the then CEO. Appearing alongside industry giants Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie showed that she was now definitively among the greatest actresses in Hollywood, standing up to their performances with matching might. 

Later taking her comic-book alter-ego Harley Quinn all the way to her own solo movie in Birds of Prey, Margot Robbie has managed to find success both in mainstream and arthouse filmmaking. With future collaborations with filmmakers David O.Russell, Damien Chazelle and Greta Gerwig in the pipeline, the trend shows the actress only reaching more impressive heights.

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