Throughout her career, Margot Robbie has never taken the expected path. After her breakout role in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, she opted for a few quiet dramas like Z for Zachariah and Suite Francaise before taking on blockbuster fare like The Suicide Squad and The Legend of Tarzan. Robbie is always willing to switch up her look, her accent, anything to make a role her own.
Born in Australia, Robbie got her start on the long-running soap opera Neighbors (which has also started the careers of Russell Crowe, Kylie Minogue, and Liam Hemsworth, to name a few) before moving to the U.S. and being cast in one of the lead roles on the TV series Pan Am.
Shortly after the series ended, she landed a small part in About Time before being cast alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Robbie later starred with DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, where she first worked with Brad Pitt before they later starred together in Babylon. Both films examine major changes in the Hollywood landscape, from the technical to the social, something Robbie herself navigates with ease.
In addition to her acting work, Robbie has also taken charge behind the scenes with her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, which she co-founded with her husband, Thomas Ackerley. The company's first project, I, Tonya, starred Robbie as Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and earned the star her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The company also produced the Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman, which won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the critically acclaimed series Dollface and Maid.
LuckyChap and Robbie are also producing Barbie, the highly anticipated comedy starring Robbie as the titular multi-faceted doll come to life. The film, written by Oscar winner Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, with Gerwig also directing, sees Barbie enter the real world with Ken (a bleach blond Ryan Gosling) in an attempt to better understand herself. Barbie arrives in theaters July 21.
Below, A.frame presents 10 essential films to watch, each one showcasing Robbie's versatility as an actress.
The primary focus of About Time is Domnhall Gleeson's time-traveling romantic, Tim, doing his best to change his future with Rachel McAdams. Robbie plays a visiting family friend who he tries to woo as he begins to understand his powers early in the film, and appears later as a potential obstacle to the grand romance at the center. It’s a small role, but nevertheless Robbie leaves an impression.
Martin Scorsese's darkly comedic crime drama, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as unscrupulous Wall Street hustler Jordan Belfort and Robbie as his stunning second wife Naomi, gave Robbie her breakout role. In the biographical film, Robbie's Naomi is so much more than a trophy wife, showcasing her enormous power over her husband in a memorable scene in the family nursery where she holds him at bay with just her foot in a high heel up against his forehead.
The Wolf of Wall Street earned a total of five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role for DiCaprio, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Jonah Hill.
Suite Française, based on a novel of the same name, features an all-star cast with Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ruth Wilson, and Robbie in a romantic drama set in Nazi-occupied France. Robbie’s role might be small yet it is pivotal nonetheless, as she reveals an important truth to Williams' character about her husband, missing in the middle of the war.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Z for Zachariah stars Robbie as Ann, who assumes she’s alone until Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor arrive at her farm. Tensions bloom among the three as they work to survive the radioactive landscape and maintain their humanity and relationships with each other. It's a quiet take on an end of the world story and an excellent showcase for all three performers.
For the darkly comic sports mockumentary, I, Tonya, Robbie pulled double duty as both lead and producer. (This was Robbie's first feature as a producer.) Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film is a humorous look at the life of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and her brief but infamous career in the sport. Robbie transforms as Tonya, highlighting the intense athlete's competitive nature and the sad woman underneath who just wanted a little approval from somebody in her life.
For her powerful performance in I, Tonya, Robbie received her first Oscar nomination (Best Actress in a Leading Role). The film also received nominations for Best Film Editing, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Allison Janney, who plays Tonya's domineering mother in the film. Janney went on to win the Oscar for her performance.
Mary Queen of Scots paired two of this generation's most renowned actresses, Saoirse Ronan as Queen Mary of Scotland and Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I. They struggle for power over each other and their respective realms, always doubted by the men that fill their courts and who would happily take away their crowns. Both deliver excellent performances, with Robbie transforming her looks to play Queen Elizabeth I in her regal beauty and more vulnerable moments. The on-screen recreations of the Elizabethan era earned the film Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Quentin Tarantino turns his revisionist lens on the end of a Hollywood era and the Manson murders in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. The bulk of the movie follows DiCaprio’s fading star and Brad Pitt’s amiable stuntman (which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), but on the periphery is Robbie’s Sharon Tate, representing the new Hollywood starting to take shape. Robbie captures what made Tate likable to audiences while never feeling like a doomed victim The film also reunited DiCaprio and Robbie, albeit briefly, and received ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay for Tarantino, Best Actor for DiCaprio, and a win in the Best Production Design category.
After bringing Harley Quinn to live-action life in 2016's Suicide Squad, Robbie got to take full control of the character in her next outing, 2020’s Birds of Prey, not only starring in the movie, but serving as a producer as well. Birds of Prey finds Harley Quinn on her own after breaking up with the Joker, redefining herself as more of an antihero than straight up villain as she works with the other women who would become the titular Birds of Prey, Jurnee Smollett's Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress, and Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya to take down Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis. It’s a fun, lively movie, with a more colorful take on Gotham and its resident rogues gallery, led by Robbie’s lovably unhinged harlequin. Robbie would reprise the role once again in 2021's The Suicide Squad.
Bombshell examines the sexual harassment and misconduct committed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow). Robbie stars as Kayla Pospisil, a fictionalized composite character of some of the victims of Ailes' harrassment. Kayla goes from ambitious and optimistic to humiliated after her encounter, in a performance that earned Robbie a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron star as real-life former Fox News anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, respectively, with Theron earning a Best Actress nomination. Bombshell also picked up a win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for transforming its stars into uncanny look-alikes of their real-life counterparts.
Damien Chazelle's Babylon reunites Robbie and Pitt for another look back at Hollywood, this time the rocky transition from silent films to talkies in the late 1920s. Things are more tragic for their characters this time around, as both characters struggle mightily with the change in their career prospects and lives. Robbie’s silent screen star Nellie LaRoy is a truly unbridled character, a star determined to burn as brightly as she possibly can before burning out and fading away.