Margot Robbie on Neighbours, Hollywood and getting naked with Leonardo DiCaprio

"When I started out on Neighbours they said I had to work on my accent because I was too Australian," says the Wolf of Wall Street actress

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In many ways Margot Robbie is a typical Australian. The 24-year-old actress is confident, candid, has bronzed skin, bouncy blonde hair and a real zest for life.

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In fact, this cliché turns out to be somewhat of an understatement. “I had such a stereotypical Australian upbringing,” she begins. In face, when I started out on Neighbours they said I had to work on my accent because I was too Australian. I had a horrible accent. It was very nasal. I sounded like Crocodile Dundee.” 

These days she sounds nothing like the Antipodean bushman, though she shares a few of his traits, most notably his courage. For her breakthrough role in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, where she played Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife, Robbie was asked to disrobe. She duly obliged.

“You sit there and feel, ‘Ooh, this is so scary’, but you are not thinking of the millions of people who might see you naked,” she recalls, “you are thinking about the crew. You have just talked to a bloke about his daughter’s violin recital and now he’s going to see you naked. The bigger deal you make of it, though, the more intimidating it becomes so you just get on with it.

I don’t know that I’m fearless,” she continues. “Maybe…” Her courage has paid dividends. Robbie’s raunchy role in Scorsese’s picture propelled her from relative unknown to a Hollywood hot property. She was nominated in the Rising Star category at this year’s Baftas and now has a clutch of notable films in the pipeline, including starry superhero flick Suicide Squad (alongside Will Smith and Jared Leto) and a fresh adaptation of Tarzan, where she plays a spirited version of Jane. 

First up, however, comes her debut as a leading lady, starring opposite Will Smith for the first time in con artist movie Focus. Although she doesn’t want to be regarded as a sex symbol, she admits that she feels pressure to stay in shape. After The Wolf of Wall Street, some observers even said her on-screen body had been digitally enhanced.

“I think the most important thing is to look at the way your character should look,” she says. “In Focus I’m playing a 20-something in New York, so I didn’t need to be rail-thin or buff. There is a bikini scene, though, and for that I was going to the gym and eating salad.” 

At the end of production, rumours were rife that Robbie had a fling with Smith, who’s marries to actress Jada Pinkett. An image appeared showing the pair flirting in a photo-booth. “There’s absolutely no truth to it,”Robbie tweeted. Apparently, the photo-booth was brought in for the film’s wrap party. “it’s disappointing that goofing around could be taken so out of context.”

But Robbie does concede that she and Smith had great chemistry. “You can have polar opposites where no one would think that it’d be a logical coupling on screen,” she notes. “Will is two decades older than me. He is an ex-rapper. Everything about us is super-different but, personality wise, we happen to be similar and we got along immediately.

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“I am very lucky with the way things have gone. When I started out, I had no idea that you could make a living doing this job.”