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It’s hard to imag­ine the daz­zling Mar­got Rob­bie look­ing any­thing less than stun­ning – but the star has proven just how much of a pro she is by get­ting a se­ri­ous make­un­der for her lat­est role in the pe­riod biopic Maryqueenof Scots. Mar­got, who also deglammed for her Os­car-nom­i­nated per­for­mance in I,tonya, ad­mits it wasn’t easy to take on the part of Queen El­iz­a­beth I in the epic tale of two mon­archs at war. Nor were those hours spent in the make-up chair ev­ery morn­ing, it seems...

How did they trans­form you into the Queen ev­ery day?

They’d start with a head­wrap, gelling and pin­ning my hair down. Then we’d do a bald cap. Sur­pris­ingly, the quick part was the white make-up. And the heav­ily drawn-on blush, eye­brows, lips. Nor­mally there’s some­one who steps in and says, “No, keep all the girls look­ing pretty!” But Josie Rourke, the Direc­tor, was keen to ex­plore how Queen El­iz­a­beth I’s looks af­fected her re­la­tion­ships.

When you first saw your­self made up as El­iz­a­beth, did you cringe?

I re­ally loved it. It wasn’t scripted to be quite the dras­tic aes­thetic trans­for­ma­tion that you end up see­ing on screen. But when you’re look­ing at pic­tures of peo­ple with small­pox, it is hor­rific. It is that dras­tic and in­cred­i­bly painful, and it also helped us an­swer the ques­tion of why she ended up pack­ing on all that white make-up and why she had the re­ced­ing hair­line and all the wigs. In real life, she also had wooden teeth, but we didn’t take it that far. We def­i­nitely didn’t over-ex­ag­ger­ate the look. There were very tal­ented peo­ple who said, “Let’s take it to that place.”

How did you feel about play­ing such an icon?

It’s ter­ri­fy­ing to take on a role that so many in­cred­i­ble ac­tresses have played be­fore, the last time by my ab­so­lute act­ing idol Cate Blanchett. That, on a sur­face level, was enough to scare me off. Delv­ing a lit­tle deeper, I just didn’t know how to play a queen. I couldn’t find any com­mon ground. I couldn’t find a way into the char­ac­ter, to un­der­stand what she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. I thought I wasn’t re­ally wor­thy of this role. I thought they should be get­ting an ac­tress who’s gone to drama school and stud­ied Shake­speare and lit­er­a­ture and his­tory. I had a lot of re­search to do to pro­vide the con­text of the pe­riod... it was a wild, wild time. I fell in love with the pe­riod and with El­iz­a­beth. She’s a very tragic char­ac­ter, to me.

Do you still pinch your­self when you think how far you’ve come since your Neigh­bours days?

I’ve been work­ing non-stop for 10 years, but I’m still giddy ev­ery time I walk on a set. We live and breathe the work here in LA. I’ve got my head down!

Were you ever wor­ried you’d al­ways be type­cast as the pretty blonde?

Once I did The Wolf Ofwall­street, I was def­i­nitely re­ceiv­ing spe­cific roles that were all re­ally sim­i­lar to what I had done in that movie, which was odd to me be­cause I’m noth­ing like that char­ac­ter. I re­mem­ber say­ing to my team, “We can’t take any of these roles, oth­er­wise I’m go­ing to play the wife or girl­friend my whole life.” I don’t want to pick up a script where I want to play the guy char­ac­ter, in­stead of the fe­male char­ac­ter I’m be­ing of­fered. In cin­e­mas Thurs­day Jan­uary 17

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