Margot Robbie is the star of Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) as well as a producer. On a list that includes comic book scribe Geoff Johns, director David Ayer, and DC Films President Walter Hamada, Robbie took a special interest in forging Harley Quinn’s future on screen.
Variety caught up with both Robbie and writer Christina Hodson for a lengthy talk. Hodson revealed how close the pair were as collaborators during the writing phase:
“I was at the keyboard; she was doing story cards. She is remarkable in that sense. I certainly don’t know of any other actors like her who would do that.”
For those who don’t know, story cards are a preliminary tool used by screenwriters to lay out a scene’s time, place, and first action before writing it. Story cards are usually nothing more than a few lines on a three-by-five card or in a designated section of Celtx or Final Draft.
Not much, it’s still an integral part of the process for your typical scribe of a Hollywood script. Margot Robbie isn’t credited as a writer but is credited with coming up with BOP’s story years ago. She’s been hands-on since then.
Often, Robbie has to be told to stop because she involves herself in every step. As her husband Tom Ackerley put it, “She reads every script — we tell her not to watch every single daily,” he said. “Ultimately, she does probably far too much.”
Robbie and her husband run her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, with two close friends and former roommates, Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr. That’s one of a few groups of friends Robbie hangs around with, said Ackerley, which motivated her to put a strong group of women together for the BOP movie.
Ackerley expounded thusly:
“She has a group of friends in the U.K.; she has a group of friends in Australia; she has a group of girlfriends here. They live fun and vivacious lives. And she was like, ‘I don’t see that on screen.’”
Christina Hodson added:
“She really wanted to see Harley with girlfriends, Harley in a girl gang. Harley is such a naturally sociable character. And I think there was just a general longing to see girls together on screen — women being friends.”
Robbie had a pretty big say too in Cathy Yan getting the director’s job. Producers – including Robbie – were set on hiring a woman, according to Variety, and were sold on Yan’s approach to action and color:
“She spoke to the aesthetic color palette, how she wanted to shoot action, how she wanted costume design to be reflective of the characters’ personalities. It was perfect.”
As far as performance, Robbie admitted (for real) she took inspiration from “TED Talks by women with schizophrenia who were also accomplished professionals.” She also read Sam Shepard’s play “Fool for Love” and “immersed herself in the world of DC Comics.” That gave her a wide range with Harley, she said:
“Harley has this unpredictable nature that means she could react in any way to any situation, which as an actor is just a gift.”
Robbie would elaborate that she and Hodson have become close friends and meet up to discuss “comics that we love, different movies we love.”
Variety also remarked Robbie is filming The Suicide Squad and called it a sequel to David Ayer’s 2016 attempt. James “it is what it is” Gunn and his cast might disagree.
The Suicide Squad won’t be ready until 2021 but Birds of Prey is out Feb. 7th. We are almost there.