Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn was the unequivocal breakout from 2016’s infamously troubled Suicide Squad. David Ayer‘s 2016 antihero team-up movie took heat from fans and critics alike, but if there was one thing everyone agreed on, it was that Robbie stole the show as the fan-favorite Harley Quinn in the character’s long-awaited big-screen debut.
With next year’s Birds of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn Robbie’s scene-stealer shakes off the Skwad entirely — not to mention her powerfully terrible paramour Mistah Jay — with an R-rated girl gang movie that takes us back to Gotham through Harley’s eyes, in what director Cathy Yan describes as a “parallel timeline.” But she’s not forging ahead on her own. This time, Harley’s got a new squad; the Birds of Prey, and her on-screen team includes Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) for an adventure that teams the former villainess with some of Gotham’s most famed good guys for a battle against the nefarious Black Mask.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the set of Birds of Prey at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, where I had a chance to glimpse the heightened, hyper-colorful world of Harley Quinn’s Gotham through the soundstage-spanning sets and the glitz and glammed up new costumes for the character (who’s become something of an icon of self-reinvention in the comics with her frequent makeovers). We also had a chance to sit down with Robbie during a break in filming, and as both star and producer on the film, she had plenty of insight into how the film was made, from her initial pitch to the studio on the Suicide Squad set, why she decided to bring in the Birds of Prey, settling on Yan as the right director, and embracing the female gaze. Plus, why it was liberating to bring Harley Quinn into an R-rated movie and breaking her free from the Joker.
You’re wearing so many hats with this, what was it about this story that really made you guys want to make this the Harley Quinn movie?
MARGOT ROBBIE: Well, I first actually pitched the notion when we were actually still shooting Suicide Squad, cause I kept saying like, ‘Oh, Harley does so much better when she has people to play with.’ I kept thinking that in real life I had such a girl gang, like my group of girlfriends, and I just want Harley to have a girl gang. I just want it to be like a girl gang for Harley to be a part of. And then obviously I’d been reading a ton of the comics, anything involving Harley, and one of the separate line of comics is the Birds of Prey, which I started reading. And Harley’s not a traditional member of the Birds of Prey, but it was a fun kind of girl gang to kind of dip in and out of, I suppose.
We saw that Harley is going to have a hyena in this one, you talked about going into comics – so with the hyena and everything else, were there other things from the comics that you dove into that you wanted to make sure you brought into this one?
ROBBIE: Yeah, there were a couple of like specific images I suppose that always stuck with me from the comics. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say… Can I mention skates?… Her in a roller derby, for example, I was just like, ‘Ah!’ There’s a couple of visuals I was like, ‘If we could just incorporate this in some way, that’d be great.’ And yeah, her babies, her pet hyenas, definitely, and B.B. of course. I just love how she has such an eclectic group of friends, or loved ones, which I wanted to incorporate.
Can you talk about how this movie is a little bit of an emancipation for your character, to kind of breakaway?
ROBBIE: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s always a question of what’s… something I explored a lot in Suicide Squad, the first film, was Harley’s co-dependence with The Joker, and obviously he has a huge influence on her. But obviously, she was very much in a relationship with him when we first saw Harley on screen in Suicide Squad. I did want to explore what is the version of Harley out of a relationship, and whether she’s out of the relationship on her own accord or if he kind of kicked her to the curb. It still affects her, but in a very different way, and I thought we’d see a very different facet of her personalities. ‘Personalities’ I would say, cause I think she has multiple.
Full interview: collider.com