Bryan Cranston, Armie Hammer, Robert Pattinson, Diane Kruger, Margot Robbie and Octavia Spencer sat down before a studio audience for The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural movie star summit about their craft, the cons of social media and how one ended up with a severed human foot.
After two decades of awards-season roundtables gathering Hollywood’s top creative talents for frank, funny and memorable conversations, THR this year decided to throw out the rule book for the final star-studded sit-down of 2017: Instead of splitting up male and female actors (as almost all honors do, from the industry-establishment Oscars to the indie-minded Spirit Awards), the Dec. 7 discussion at West Hollywood’s Quixote Studios was a co-ed affair. And instead of taking place in a clinically silent, closed studio environment, it was conducted before a live audience of Hollywood insiders who took in the proceedings with laughs (especially at 61-year-old Last Flag Flying star Bryan Cranston’s impish one-liners), sighs (at the cautiously hopeful comments about sexual harassment in Hollywood from In the Fade’s Diane Kruger, 41, and The Shape of Water’s Octavia Spencer, 47) and a few gasps (mostly to do with I, Tonya’s Margot Robbie, 27, and a severed foot — read on). These stars, together with Call Me by Your Name’s Armie Hammer, 31, and Good Time’s Robert Pattinson, 31, didn’t let the 200 people watching cramp their conversational style — they’re actors, after all — as they animated one of the most competitive awards seasons in memory with a lively back-and-forth about the craft that unites them and the kind of artists, leaders and mentors they want to be.
This is the first time THR has mixed male and female actors on the same roundtable. So what is an issue that you have always wanted to discuss with actors of the opposite sex?
BRYAN CRANSTON Have you worked with someone you’ve despised?
OCTAVIA SPENCER I have. But I was only on the set for one day so … (Laughter.)
ARMIE HAMMER ’Cause you got fired?
SPENCER When a person looks past you and doesn’t address you and they close the door in your face, it’s like, “I hate you with all of my heart.” And, you know, that person is a miserable person. Years later I met that person again.
DIANE KRUGER Did you tell him?
SPENCER No. They literally walked up to me as if they had been kind, and I’m like, “No.”
MARGOT ROBBIE I normally avoid conflict at all costs. I haven’t worked with an actor whom I’ve despised, but I have worked with someone on the production side who — I didn’t appreciate the way they spoke about me in front of groups. It took me a couple of months, but I plucked up the courage and pulled him aside and said, “You’re discrediting what I do when you speak to me like that.” He was really great about it.
CRANSTON “And you’re fired.”
ROBBIE And I never worked again.
ROBERT PATTINSON It’s a weird thing because as soon as you have to be asserting yourself to a director, it kind of breaks the fourth wall. It’s not supposed to be you when you walk on to set. So I always try and avoid [conflict], and hopefully they’ll just see what they’re doing is wrong. (Pauses.) It never, ever, ever works. (Laughter.) It just gets worse and worse. But it completely throws me off if I have to say, “Hey, this is my process.” It’s like, I don’t know what my process is, there just needs to be some kind of understanding that you’re trying to do something good, you’re not just messing around.
CRANSTON You know, it’s not imperative that you get along with your co-stars; it’s like your in-laws — it just makes things easier. And so you make an effort to get to know them and to know how they work, because every actor works differently.
HAMMER The longer I do this, the more I find that’s just as pivotal a part of doing your job as having your lines down, knowing your character. Because you can have your process, but if you can’t fit your process into the organic process that is the project, then it doesn’t do you any good. You have to figure out how to do what you want to do while also not fucking up somebody else’s process.
Full interview: hollywoodreporter.com
Jake Gyllenhaal compared his zany character Dr. Johnny from “Okja” to Margot Robbie’s take on the popular villain Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad.”
“Can you imagine if Dr. Johnny met Harley Quinn?” he asked. “I feel like we wore the same shorts, maybe.”
“You stole my outfit? I knew this was going to happen, get your own outfit,” Robbie joked.
When Robbie asked Gyllenhaal if he thought of himself as a character actor, Gyllenhaal said that audiences’ polarized reception to his character is “exactly where I want to be.”
“I remember walking out in the outfit in New York City, because we had been shooting in Korea and I had been wearing the crazy outfit, and I remember walking out and everyone was like, ‘You know there are paparazzi out there,’” he said. “And I was like, ‘This is how I’ve always wanted to look in front of photographers.’ It just feels like you want to make bold choices that throw things off for yourself and you also throw things off for others.”
Robbie noted that she’ll reprise the role of the Joker’s crazy girlfriend next year and said that she loves the role and other characters because “every character I play, I don’t feel like myself and that’s why I like doing it.”
“It’s so weird when people want to know about you because you’re like, wait, my whole job is not being me. Me? I don’t know, I’m boring. But, like, these characters are amazing, ask about them,” she said. “Harley’s one of those insane characters and people do seem to really like her, so I hope I get to keep playing her.”
Robbie also pointed out that they shared a connection in that both actors have worked with director David Ayer and told Gyllenhaal that “End of Watch,” which Ayer directed and Gyllenhaal starred in, is one of her favorite films.
“The reason I signed on for ‘Suicide Squad’ was because I love ‘End of Watch’ so much and I saw it about four times at the cinema,” she said.
Margot Robbie and her husband Tom Ackerley sure do make a dreamy pair. When Vogue Australia’s deputy editor Sophie Tedmanson travelled to New Mexico to interview Robbie for the December 2017 issue, the close bond between the couple was obvious. Now based in Los Angeles, they had decamped to an Airbnb mansion in Albuquerque while their production company, LuckyChap, was filming in the area.
Last December, Robbie and Ackerley exchanged vows before 50 of their closest friends and family in an intimate ceremony in Byron Bay. To mark the occasion—and probably diffuse the many rumours around the nuptials—Robbie posted one of the cheekiest celebrity wedding Instagrams ever. Not surprisingly to us, the photo of her sticking her ring finger up to the camera went viral.
“It’s crazy,” Robbie says in the new interview. “I’ve seen so many other people on Instagram announce their engagement that way now. It’s kind of funny, so bizarre.”
Opening up about married life, the Australian actress reveals that not much has changed now that she can call the British director, who she met on the set of Suite Française, her husband. “We were best friends and roommates before and now we’re like best friends and roommates still, so nothing’s really changed at all,” she says.
“Other than the fact that I get to wear this on the weekends,” she adds, speaking of her pear-shaped diamond ring. “I can’t obviously wear it during the week when I’m working–I don’t want to lose it on set.” And when she can’t wear her ring, at least she and Ackerley can wear matching pyjamas. Couple goals indeed.
When Margot Robbie read the script for I, Tonya, a biopic of the notorious ice skater Tonya Harding, she assumed the story was complete fiction. “I thought the writer was so quirky and crazy to come up with this stuff,” she told me, still looking a bit astonished by the strange twists in Harding’s life. (In 1994, the skater was famously implicated in a plot to take down her nemesis Nancy Kerrigan after a man attacked Kerrigan with a baton.) We were on location for the W shoot in Snug Harbor, a bucolic Staten Island enclave founded in the early 1800s as a haven for old sailors. There was something appealingly run-down and shabby about the setting, but Robbie, who is 27, is a glow-y girl: With blond hair and an engaged manner, she can’t help but shine.
Which is why it is so remarkable that Robbie was able to completely disappear into Harding’s decidedly darker persona. A self-described redneck from Oregon, Harding was the antithesis of the traditional superstar figure skater. She was rough and flashy, and her skating was powerful and athletic rather than graceful and balletic. Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, were ultimately charged with criminal conspiracy to commit assault. While Kerrigan recovered from her injuries in time to compete in the ’94 Olympics, the incident propelled Harding to tabloid infamy and effectively ended her skating career.
“I was 4 years old and living in Australia at the time,” Robbie said. “The news did reach Australia, but I didn’t know about it.”
Riveted by the script, Robbie immediately agreed to star in and produce the film—despite that fact that she had never figure skated in her life. “I did four months of training, five days a week, four hours a day,” she recalled. “On Christmas Eve, I was at the rink. And now I actually really miss it. I kept my ice skates—but I said goodbye to a whole world of pain that I didn’t realize came along with figure skating.”
Not only did Robbie have to be believable on the ice, she also had to take on the even more difficult challenge of assuming Harding’s accent and physique. “Once I put on the wig, which altered my hairline, and bleached my eyebrows, I started to see Tonya,” Robbie said. “The hardest part was losing my natural laugh. It needed to be Tonya’s laugh. I couldn’t do a triple axel like Tonya, but I was able to master her laugh.”
Harding’s life, by her own account, was violent: In the film, her mother (played brilliantly by Allison Janney) physically abuses her, as does Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan). “I worried that after some of the fight scenes we would never win the audience back,” Robbie told me. “When we screened the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, the whole audience gasped when Gillooly hit her. But six minutes later, he did something kind, and the audience went, ‘Ahhh!’ ”
Robbie paused. “That was interesting to me, and explains something about the insidious nature of domestic violence: The audience forgave him so quickly. So how could you blame Tonya for going back to him?”
Before filming began, Robbie and her director, Craig Gillespie, flew to Portland, Oregon, to meet Harding in person. “I wanted there to be a clear distinction between the ‘real’ Tonya and the one I would be playing,” Robbie explained, adding that she had already made up her mind as to how she would approach the character. “I didn’t want to sugarcoat her,” she said. I asked Robbie whether or not she believes Harding was innocent. “In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure. There were things that didn’t add up. Facts were muddled.” She smiled. “But the more I became Tonya, the more I saw things from her point of view. I’m on her side 100 percent. I don’t think she did anything but be different from what the world wanted. There are cool misfits, and then there is Tonya. She didn’t fit in. And I love that.”
Full interview: wmagazine.com