27 June 2020 20:33
You've got to hand it to Margot Robbie... she's 30 on Thursday and has already packed an acting lifetime into barely 12 years. The star of hits like Bombshell and Suicide Squad has gone from couch-surfing as a jobbing actress in Australia to working alongside superstars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt. She even runs her own production company worth an estimated £25million – and it's all down to determination to succeed and a work ethic she honed on hit soap Neighbours. The Aussie says playing girl-next-door Donna Brown on Ramsay Street was a vital part of her ride to crack Tinseltown.
Margot says: "Neighbours is like boot camp. It is a rite of passage. "There were 30 cast members from eight to 70 and you all stay in one room together. It's not like America where you have trailers and omelette chefs. (Image: Getty) "I remember asking, 'Do you do just this job? And you can support a family and send your kids to school and pay off your mortgage just by acting?' And they were like, 'Yeah'. I thought, 'Well then, I want to do that. I'll just do acting then'." Last year Margot was voted one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world by Time magazine after a 2020 Academy Award nomination for Bombshell, about sex harassment in the US media. This year, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Margot starred once more as the anti-hero Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey. Next year, she will reprise the role for the Suicide Squad sequel, will be the voice of Flopsy in Peter Rabbit 2 and is set to film a screen version of Barbie. She is also lined up for a new Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. (Image: Warner Bros) And behind the lens, she will produce Promising Young Women, starring Carey Mulligan. It's a hefty workload. But Margot maintains a laid-back approach to life. She grew up the third of four children on a fruit farm on Queensland's Gold Coast and was raised by her "amazing" single mum Sarie Kessler, a physiotherapist. The star has little contact with her father, former farm owner Doug Robbie. Margot left home at 17 to pursue acting and was snowboarding in Canada when she got the call to appear on Neighbours. (Image: Channel 5) Talking during a chat about Bombshell with SiriusXM online radio service, she adds: "I had finished high school and was trying to find couches to sleep on, just trying to keep my head above water, working constantly." Her confidence grew on Neighbours, as did a desire for pastures new. She adds: "I didn't want to play the same role for too long because I could already tell I was starting to play myself a little bit. My choices were to stay for decades the way some cast members have, which would give you a lovely life in Melbourne, or try and make the transition to America. "I was spending on acting courses and dialect coaching so that I could make my American accent perfect. (Image: BBC) "I had to get a team in place so I could get with the best casting agents and not waste any time." The investment paid off. In 2012 Margot was cast in TV series Pan Am, about 1960s cabin crew. But it was her role a year later in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street – which she won after an unscripted slap to Leonardo DiCaprio's cheek during the audition – that raised her profile in Tinseltown. Margot and DiCaprio were reunited last year in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. She played actress Sharon Tate. After filming Wall Street, Margot lived in a house in Clapham, South London, where seven friends squeezed in to four bedrooms. Pals dubbed the home The Manor. Margot was often globetrotting for filming, premieres and awards but loved returning to Clapham, where she had "the best times". It was here that she hooked up with Surrey-born film-maker Tom Ackerley – now her husband. The pair married in Australia's Byron Bay in 2016 and revealed the news via Instagram, declaring: "We are still roommates." (Image: Sony Pictures) The newlyweds moved first to West London – then to Los Angeles in 2017. Their £2million five-bedroom pad in Hancock Park is a world away from The Manor. But Margot puts a good chunk of her success down to her time in Clapham. She and Tom joined forces with housemates Sophia Kerr and Josey McNamara to set up their own production company called LuckyChap Entertainment. It produced Margot's critically acclaimed film I, Tonya, about Aussie ice- skating outcast Tonya Harding. And it was in London that she was cast as Jane in the £140million blockbuster The Legend Of Tarzan. But success hasn't gone to Margot's head and she refuses to forget her humble beginnings. She says: "I was painfully self- conscious when I was a teenager. I had braces so I would smile and then quickly try to cover them. "I got to that really pre-pubescent, pubescent age where I was angry for no reason and I was self-conscious and embarrassed and confused. "I feel the person I am today is more similar to the person I was at seven. "I watched movies all the time and would replicate them and make Mom watch. I was business-savvy too. I was a little wheeler-dealer. I was stealing my brother's toys and setting up a store on the side of the road and selling them so I could go buy candy. He was furious." Margot has built on that early business acumen with her production company and admits she finds it hard to take her foot off the accelerator. But she says: "I never complain. I love it. I just want to be on set." Margot and Tom even spent their honeymoon at work. "We did I, Tonya instead of our honeymoon," she says. "Literally, we went straight into filming after we got married. "There were times we were sitting in a car park in Atlanta in the freezing cold, thinking, 'We should be on a beach right now. We should be on our honeymoon. Following our dreams'."