MAG­NETIC MAR­GOT

The Gold Coast na­tive talked co-star Will Smith into in­clud­ing an Aussie joke but says ru­mours of an off-screen re­la­tion­ship are just rub­bish

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - TIF­FANY BAKKER

OUR GOLDEN GIRL'S JOUR­NEY FROM NEIGH­BOURS STAR TO HOL­LY­WOOD A-LIS­TER

Mar­got Rob­bie sweeps into a Los An­ge­les ho­tel room look­ing – shock­ingly – for some­thing to eat. “I’m starv­ing,” she says, just as an as­sis­tant mag­i­cally ap­pears and hands her a, um, pa­leo bar.

“I don’t think I’ll eat it,” says the 24-year-old actress, frown­ing. “It looks like it’s ac­tu­ally made out of rub­ber. God, I’d kill for some chips.”

Thank­fully, the Gold Coast na­tive hasn’t gone all LA on us (th­ese days, she’s ac­tu­ally Lon­don-based), but she’s been in town pro­mot­ing her lat­est film, Fo­cus (op­po­site Will Smith), and at­tend­ing the Os­cars, where she was ad­judged one of the night’s best dressed. (“It’s nice to get dolled up!”)

From the out­side, Rob­bie’s me­te­oric Hol­ly­wood rise has been swift (it’s amaz­ing to think she only left Neigh­bours in 2011), but from the in­side, it’s all been highly strate­gic.

“It’s way more fun to write ‘overnight sen­sa­tion’ and then make it sound like, ‘Well, she won the lot­tery!’,” says Rob­bie. “In a way, I to­tally did, be­cause it’s still in­sane, no mat­ter how much plan­ning you do. It might not nec­es­sar­ily go your way, but there were a lot of plans in place. It’s not as much as a fluke as it may seem.”

In­deed, Rob­bie, who did her time in­side the Neigh­bours act­ing fac­tory from 2009-11 says she was mak­ing plans for a US as­sault only a few months into her stint on the show.

“I had a pretty clear game plan. I started speak­ing to peo­ple who had worked on Neigh­bours and who had made the tran­si­tion [to the US]. I re­alised that peo­ple ei­ther stayed on the show for a re­ally long time, or they com­pleted their con­tract and went on to do some­thing else. So I sussed out the peo­ple who’d made that move, and then started ask­ing them how they did it.” She also saved her money. “I knew I’d need a good amount to move, so I didn’t spend any at all. Con­trary to popular be­lief, you don’t nec­es­sar­ily get paid a lot on Neigh­bours,” she smiles.

Th­ese days, of course, Rob­bie’s a long way from count­ing her dol­lars. Still, she says her new fi­nan­cial sta­tus hasn’t changed her spend­ing habits.

“I still haven’t re­ally spent any on my­self. I think there’s al­ways that thing in the back of your mind that it could all be taken away.”

Not that she re­ally has to worry. Af­ter her break­out per­for­mance in last year’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, Rob­bie is in high de­mand. (Next up she’ll be seen as Jane op­po­site Alexander Skars­gard in Tarzan, and then as su­pervil­lain Har­ley Quinn in the lat­est from the DC Comics sta­ble, Sui­cide Squad).

She says she’s ap­proached her ca­reer with an all or noth­ing men­tal­ity. “I’m an all or noth­ing kind of girl. I’d rather do it full on or not at all.”

Rob­bie took that same at­ti­tude into Fo­cus, where she plays Jess, a con-artist-in­train­ing. Af­ter she crosses paths with Will Smith’s ex­pe­ri­enced mas­ter ma­nip­u­la­tor, Nicky, the two try to out-con each other.

Rob­bie was at­tracted to the role for its orig­i­nal­ity.

“I hadn’t seen a story like this on screen. I liked the way it moved be­tween gen­res,” she says. “Also, I’m a sucker for a love story. But at the same time I love heist films and I love ac­tion films, and this com­bines all of that.”

In hind­sight, Rob­bie reck­ons she was lucky to get the job. When she got the call to au­di­tion, she was on a beach in Croa­tia, and had 48 hours to get to New York. En route, her lug­gage went miss­ing.

“I was wear­ing the clothes I’d been back­pack­ing in and I was filthy,” she says. “I had been swim­ming, right be­fore know­ing that I had to quickly rush to New York, and so my clothes were ac­tu­ally still damp, and I had a py­jama top on and ripped shorts.”

Smith, how­ever, just thought she wasn’t in­ter­ested. “My first thing was, oh, she doesn’t want this job,” he says. “She comes in, hair ev­ery­where, no make-up and just a bit of a mess. Then she started per­form­ing, and blew us all away.”

The two had such a pal­pa­ble chem­istry on screen (Rob­bie calls ru­mours of an off-screen dal­liance “rub­bish”) that they even started im­pro­vis­ing dur­ing takes. She even con­vinced Smith to add in an Aussie joke. (She likes to do that on all of her projects so her “friends can have a laugh at home”. “It might not make sense to the masses, but they love it.”)

Fo­cus opens to­day.

Mar­got Rob­bie in a scene from the movie

Fo­cus.

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