Margot Robbie: “Ironically, you have to do the bigger films in order to make a small film”
“When I first tried to do Z for Zachariah, I couldn’t attach enough value to my name” – Margot Robbie
Actress Margot Robbie burst on the scene like a gorgeous force of nature (is there such a thing?) when she starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street. Since then she has had a very eclectic career including starring in the post-apocalyptic Z for Zachariah and what will likely be the biggest blockbuster of her career, playing DC Comics villain the Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. In a conversation with The Guardian, Robbie speaks about why she was unable to get her role in the low-budget Z for Zachariah until after starring in the big-budget The Wolf of Wall Street and acting opposite 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Robbie points out that in some cases actors need a certain level of fame in big films before they’re cast in smaller projects. She explains, “I was actually trying to get the role of Ann in Z for Zachariah before I had done Wolf [of Wall Street]. But because I hadn’t done a large film, I didn’t have enough international value to my name to get the film funded. So another actress was attached who had been in more bigger budget, commercial films. Ironically, you have to do the bigger films in order to make a small film. When I first tried to do Z for Zachariah, I couldn’t attach enough value to my name.”
In fact, Robbie continues by suggesting that every actor has a “price tag” in terms of how much money producers think he or she will draw for the project. She says, “Yeah, it is really odd. Someone put it to me interestingly a few years ago: every actor has a price tag. To make a film is just a math equation. And if you can make the actor’s numbers add up, then the movie can get made, and if you can’t, then you’re going to have to reevaluate who you’re hiring. I got told what my price tag was the other day, when someone said: ‘If we put you in this film, we’d get this amount for funding.’ It kind of reminds you in some ways you’re just a part of the system, but you always have great directors fighting for the authentic choice. But on the other hand, you have the financiers and the producers doing the math behind it.”
She also has a lot of praise for her Z for Zachariah co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor. She says, “He’s a really powerful actor, really like Leo [DiCaprio]. They both have a screen presence; they’ve very lovely, approachable people, but when you’re doing a scene with them, if you don’t keep up with them, they’ll just roll right over you.”