Margot Robbie on Changing Hollywood and Her Shocking Transformation Into Elizabeth I

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There were days when Margot Robbie would walk out of the makeup trailer on the set of her new film, Mary Queen of Scots, and castmates couldn’t bear to look at her. I’d say, ‘Hey, how’s your weekend?’ ” says the 28-year-old actress, in her best exaggeration of her native Australian Gold Coast accent. “But they wouldn’t even get close to me. It was very alienating. And I felt very lonely. It was an interesting social experiment.

Her transformation into Queen Elizabeth I, who was scarred by smallpox as a young woman, took three and a half hours of intensive hair and makeup every day. “They’d start with a head wrap,” says Robbie. “Gelling and pinning my hair down. Then we’d do a bald cap.” There were different wigs for different stages of the story and her illness, one that was very thinning, and prosthetic scarring applied to her face. “Surprisingly, the quick part was the white makeup,” she says. “And the heavily drawn-on blush, eyebrows, lips.

Such a transformation was no small feat, considering that the actress got her big-screen break playing a character described as “the hottest blonde ever” in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 drama, The Wolf of Wall Street. But Robbie, who currently serves as a face of Chanel, refused early on to be typecast by her beauty. “When I was trying to make my name as an actress, creative roles for women were limited,” she says of her decision to form her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, in 2014. “I didn’t want to pick up another script where I was the wife or the girlfriend— just a catalyst for the male story line. It was uninspiring.

Interestingly, Mary Queen of Scots isn’t the first time Robbie has taken on a role that required her to actively make herself look worse on-screen. After all, who can forget the curled bangs, black eyeliner, and braces she donned to play disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya? “Margot is a very, very good actor who takes her work incredibly seriously,” says costar Saoirse Ronan, who plays Queen Mary in the film. “I don’t think looks even factor into it. Even when she has a glamorous role, she’s got this brilliant, strong presence, and part of that is because she’s a very sincere and authentic person. She’s very open. What you see is what you get.

Fearlessly shaking off her beauty and diving headlong into complex characters has clearly paid off for Robbie, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in I, Tonya (which LuckyChap produced). And she now has roughly a dozen projects in various stages of development, including a thriller called Dreamland (also produced by her company), a Suicide Squad spin-off in which she will lead an ensemble of female superheroes, and a number of women-led television projects. “When we set out to create our company, it was sort of a new idea, but then in response to the #MeToo conversation it was all that anyone was talking about. People were like, ‘Why don’t we make movies for women?’ Uh, what a revelation, right?

The waiting area of LuckyChap, which is almost hidden in a nondescript bungalow on the Warner Bros. lot, is cast in a pink glow from the neon sign that bears the company name in loopy script. On the day of our interview, Robbie emerges from one of the back rooms dressed in high-waisted flared jeans, a black-and white-striped button-down top, and brandy-colored Mansur Gavriel platforms. She is smiling, like really smiling, radiating joy with her whole body. She tiptoes down the hall as if she’s sneaking up on someone or is giddy about sharing a secret. “I’m Margot,” she says, extending a slender arm to shake hands. “Do you want to see a puppy?

Full interview: harpersbazaar.com

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