Many movie stars can point to a single role that was a career breakthrough — but not all those stars realize that it’s a breakthrough as it’s happening. Most audiences first became aware of Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie from her role in Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, but Robbie tells Time that she initially thought the movie would ruin her movie career before it had a chance to get started.
While many actors would love to launch their film career with a project as high-profile as The Wolf of Wall Street and work with Scorsese, Robbie was concerned that it would set the bar too high for her as an actress. She explains, “I was worried that people would be expecting too much of me now, like, ‘If Scorsese cast her in a film, she must be brilliant!’ Instead of having the chance to surprise people, I was worried that I’d disappoint them.”
In Suicide Squad, Robbie had the opportunity to surprise people by playing Harley Quinn. Part of what Robbie’s Suicide Squad character unique is Quinn’s duality — being that before she was a crazy supervillian, Quinn was a competent doctor. Robbie says, “To me, there’s always two characters. There’s Harleen Quinzel and there’s Harley Quinn, and there are moments where Harleen takes over and that’s when she can be rational, and then Harley takes over and that’s the more erratic side.”
Another draw for Robbie was Quinn’s addiction to the Joker, a person who otherwise treats her terribly. She reveals that for Quinn when it comes to the Joker, “It’s more than just a want. It’s a need. In fact, it’s the motivating factor for almost everything she does. All the roles I’ve played are very strong and very flawed. I look for a really strong point of view. They know who they are or they know what they want—not necessarily both.”