Margot Robbie is arguably one of the hottest names in Hollywood right now, following the release of Barbie, which is now the highest-grossing film directed by a woman in history. For the past 10 years, she has been a mainstay of the film industry and has been in some of the most notable films within that time frame. Aside from Barbie, she starred in successful films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. She even snuck in a minor role in the recent Wes Anderson film Asteroid City before Barbie hit theaters back in July. Yet what Margot Robbie shows us time and time again is the value of history. One trademark of Margot Robbie throughout her minor and major hits, is the ways in which she embraces Hollywood’s retro roots.
Suicide Squad (2016):
Margot Robbie already had The Wolf of Wall Street under her belt come her revival of the iconic comic book character Harley Quinn, though this film catapulted her further into the spotlight. In composing her particular rendition of Harley Quinn, writer and director James Gunn took a lot of inspiration from Lou Costello to add a further comedic angle to the character. Her comedic timing in addition to charismatic, compelling, and confident on screen charm left a hold on audiences hearts that led to a significant uptick of Harley Quinns walking around on Halloweekend.
I, Tonya (2017):
I, Tonya presents a catalytic moment as Margot Robbie steps away from the sex symbol typecast and takes on historical figures. This film also introduces her range as an actress with regard to the roles she plays. She truly encapsulates the raw emotions of Tonya Harding as she goes through her ice skating career. Here she starts to tap into what it means to bring vitality to and tell a story through the costuming. Moreover, her radiant on-screen persona adds dimension, poise, and almost a sense of dreamy creative liberty that comes through here.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019):
In the 2nd of her collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie’s take on the role of famous 1960s actress Sharon Tate demonstrates a new leaf being turned in her career. By being more autonomous, and empowered as opposed to being treated like an object as per her role as Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie solidifies her break from these hypersexualized roles that defined her early career. Furthermore, her portrayal of Tate in Tarantino’s alternate reality where Tate survives defies the traditional tragic narrative told about Tate. It also showcases Tate’s personhood; she is lively, fantastical, and eccentric (she did actually go out in public barefoot, so no, the barefoot thing was not contrived this time on Tarantino’s end, Sharon Tate is just an Aquarius). She is not only able to find empowerment within herself but is also empowering the legacy of Sharon Tate and her film career and time in Hollywood, rather than exploiting Tate’s untimely death as the media routinely does.
Babylon is another shining example of how Margot Robbie thrives in the period piece. This film in particular presents duality. Her character of Nellie LaRoy is a portrayal of 1920s actress Clara Bow, one of the most significant women in Hollywood of that decade. She is the one who coined the concept of an it-girl, yet lived a rather volatile life. Margot Robbie is truly the one who ignited how this film is able to show the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age. She lights up any room she walks into. Raunchy conversations about her fellow Old Hollywood luminaries, a heartfelt on screen presence as well as a truly honest, fiery and wild disposition all culminate in capturing the personality of the very muse Clara Bow herself.
And so we come full circle to Barbie. Once again, Margot fully taps into the versatility of her on-screen fashion sense. Here at the beginning of the film, she dons a 50s-style swing dress, but she wears a variety of looks that cover all of the significant fashion decades. Furthermore, the outfits in Barbie also reflect the chronology of the Barbie doll. This costuming choice additionally mirrors how Barbie becomes increasingly conscious of the world around her, stays true to preaching the power of women against all odds, and her own character development. Margot Robbie brings life to the screen, and her genuine passion for the craft is palpable.
As one of the real it-girls of Hollywood at the moment, Margot Robbie tells a story of evolution and empowerment from the standpoint of her own growth as an actress while also paying homage to the evolution of the film industry as a whole.