The actor talks to Tom Lamont about speaking out, hanging with the crew on set, and going from Neighbours to an Oscar nomination for I,Tonya
Nostalgic, nodding to herself, Margot Robbie walks around the deserted London bar a little in the manner of a soldier returning to the site of a heavy battle. A few years ago, when the Australian actor’s film career was getting going, when she was a Neighbours graduate who had been cast in a Martin Scorsese film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Robbie lived nearby. The 27-year-old was one of a cluster of friends who squeezed into a rented home in Clapham meant for half that number, to save money. In the evenings, to stretch their limbs and get drunk, the gang would roll out to this bar.
“The best times,” says Robbie, remembering meandering conversations, in-jokes, budding love affairs and business decisions, big hangovers. The bar looks different at 10 in the morning, day-lit, set up for brunch. But, she remembers, there used to be a good sofa upstairs, past the table-football table, near the fireplace… “Here,” she says, pleased, settling in.
Robbie left London about a year ago, around the time she married her husband, Tom Ackerley, and moved to Los Angeles. She has flown back in to attend a screening of her new film, I, Tonya, ahead of its UK release. In a few hours she’ll be at a posh cinema, sitting in the dark and evaluating the audience’s every response. Robbie stars in this dark, low-budget comedy-biopic about the wayward American figure skater, Tonya Harding – and also produced it. This means having more skin in the game. It means “daily emails, saying what percentage we’re up or down in what cities, what demographics are responding in what way, what the reviews are saying”. Robbie collapses back on the sofa. “Super nerve-racking. Super exciting. I hadn’t been involved in this part before.”