Star sees gender politics in royal rumble
Margot Robbie talks about the pressure that women in power experience
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.— Margot Robbie is being royally honest.
The star of Mary Queen of Scots (now in limited release) wasn’t simply in the market for a juicy part when she signed on to play Queen Elizabeth I opposite Saoirse Ronan, who takes on the romantic ( and doomed) Scottish monarch.
She was trying to add to her girl gang.
“I love all the dudes I’ve worked with, they’re amazing. (But) in real life I hang out with my girlfriends all the time,” says Robbie, 28.
“I have a girl gang in New York, a girl gang in London, a girl gang in Australia. That’s who I hang out with. I have a lot of guy friends, too, but there’s nothing quite like the girl gang. And I was like, I never get to act with girls onscreen.”
The duelling queen drama was thus coronated. Mary Queen of Scots examines the fraught relationship between the duelling Scottish royal and her English cousin during their 16th-century reigns. The younger Mary, who herself had reasonable claim to the English throne, married and produced a male heir, posing a two-pronged threat to Elizabeth’s reign. She was also a Catholic slandered by claims of sexual promiscuity and forced to flee Scotland.
It was the Protestant virgin Queen Elizabeth, who refused to wed and be usurped by a power-hungry husband, who ultimately gave Mary safe haven in England, only to later order her beheading, convinced her cousin was plotting against her.
“The gender politics of the time put enormous pressure on women, especially women in positions of power (such as) Mary and Elizabeth, to have a male heir, because being male trumped everything,” says Robbie, who plays the wigged queen as she’s stripped of her beauty by a se- rious bout of smallpox.
“It didn’t matter if you were born rightfully to be a queen.... People wanted stability, and in their minds, that had to be a male on the throne.”
Guy Pearce stars as William Cecil, left, and Margot Robbie embodies Protestant virgin Queen Elizabeth in Mary Queen of Scots.