Margot Robbie on Being a Harry Potter Nerd and Not Taking Jared Leto’s Scent Suggestions
While Vanity Fair may find Margot Robbie “too fresh to be pegged,” she’s pretty willing to do it herself — at least when it comes to Harry Potter. “I manipulated the answers,” she said, when I ask the admitted Potter nerd (on Jimmy Kimmel, she showed a photo of herself at 13 with glasses, braces, and holding a cup of tea and a Harry Potter book), whether she’s ever taken a Sorting Hat quiz. During a press day from London as the new face of deep Euphoria Calvin Klein, I forgot to ask Robbie what her patronus would be, but I did find out where she thinks the Sorting Hat would place her, the weird smell Jared Leto thought the Joker would have, and her thoughts on not putting down other women.
Did you play a specific character in the deep Euphoria shoot?
That was the tricky part. With any kind of photo shoot or campaign, they want to see you be yourself, but what I do at work is to play someone else. Photo shoots are terrifying. Photographers are like, “Just show me you!” and I’m like, “Oh, me? I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t be sprawled out on a couch like this. I would be in a tracksuit.”
But Francis Lawrence, a film director, did the campaign, so it was so much easier for me to sit down with him and say, “Okay, so here’s the concept. This is where you are. This is what you’re thinking.” We’re blurring the lines between fantasy and reality so you can associate things with your own experiences and you can kind of fabricate the world you’re in at the same time.
What was your first scent memory?
I remember being a kid and seeing my mom’s perfumes lined up on the bathroom bench. I was definitely aware that only older women — grown-up women — wore perfume. I was so thrilled at the idea that I was going to be grown up and be able to wear perfume, too. Whenever I smell my mum, I feel like a little kid again.
In Glamour, your Suicide Squad colleague Jared Leto said you created a scent for him as the Joker. What kind of scent did you end up creating?
I pick a scent for every character I play. Playing Jane in Tarzan, I just wore pure rose oil. I figured it was a little more earthy — still feminine but in a more grounded way. Every character has been different.
In the case of Harley, she had such an obsession with the Joker that I thought she would want to smell the way that he wants her to smell. I asked him what type of scents he likes and was going to base my perfume choice off it. But he gave a crazy answer and I was like, Okay, well, I might do something slightly different.
I read that he said the Joker would smell like brain, dirty socks, and dead fish.
That was his response, and I was like, Okay, not really the thing I was after, but, um, that’s great! I’m probably not going to rub dead fish on me everyday, so I went for what I thought Harley would like as opposed to what the Joker would like.
I decided I wanted her to smell kind of sickly sweet. I didn’t want a subtle scent at all, I wanted one that made you very aware that she’s wearing it. I went to a drugstore in a strip mall and bought really cute, tacky perfume that was so sweet it would give you a toothache. It was very Harley to me. It was cute. It was fun. It was unapologetic.
What about Naomi in Wolf of Wall Street?
In the past, I had a perfume that guys always commented on whenever I wore it. They’d always say, “You smell so good!” Since Naomi was so aware of the effect she had on men, that would be the perfume she’d wear. At the moment, I’m playing a character from the 1920s and I’ve found a gorgeous perfume in a 1920s bottle. Ironically, in the last film I did, Terminal, I was playing this femme fatale sort of character and I realized I’d already had the perfume. Deep Euphoria was perfect. It’s feminine, sensual, dangerous, provocative, but still subtle enough that you don’t really see it coming.
So I heard that you’re a huge Harry Potter nerd. Have you ever taken one of those quizzes that tells you what house you’re in?
I did, but I think I manipulated the answers because I so badly wanted to be in Gryffindor. Now, I’ll never truly know what I would have got. But since the Sorting Hat takes into account the house you want to be in, maybe I would have ended up in Gryffindor anyway.
I got Ravenclaw, which I guess isn’t bad.
It’s not that bad. I would be quite happy with Ravenclaw and I’d be quite happy with Hufflepuff.
One of my friends got Slytherin.
What’s she like that she ended up in Slytherin? [Laughs.]
She said it shows that you’re very cunning but have the Gryffindor qualities. I was like, I don’t know about that. Minus Professor Snape.
No. This is why we are true Gryffindors, because we wouldn’t, we don’t agree with that. Although Professor Snape was very brave. Yes, he was very brave.
What do you think Hogwarts would smell like?
Well, I’ve always loved the bits where they’re describing what they’re eating in the Great Hall, when they’re eating their dinner. I think it would just smell like cooking all the time. Or it could smell like pine needles at Christmastime when Hagrid is bringing the Christmas trees in. So I think wood fires, pine needles, and, like, all those comforting magical smells.
You’ve been the subject of some interesting profiles by male writers, like the one in Vanity Fair that got a lot of attention. What do you make of the experiences of being interviewed by male writers?
Well, one of the articles that was written about me that read to be quite scathing was written by a female writer. It was a young, female writer who I thought was so cool. I really liked her and thought, in real life, maybe we would be friends. Then I read the article she wrote and I was like, Wow, that’s kind of mean. Nothing upsets me more than women putting down other women. I was like Dude, lift each other up, don’t do that. You can expect that from men sometimes, but you want other women to lift you up a bit. That bummed me out way more than the Vanity Fair article, or anything else that I’ve read about me.
On the other hand, I’ve had male writers that I’ve just absolutely adored and thought that they were really fair and accurate portrayals. You never know what you’re going to get, really.
Why do you think the female writer wrote the story in such an unexpected way?
I really don’t know. I’d love to sit down with her and ask. Sometimes it’s easier to take that angle. It’s easier to be kind of scathing and judgmental sometimes when you’re writing an article and need to find an angle and a point of view. Sometimes, it’s more provocative to be negative.
You mentioned before that you thought there was nothing worse than women who bring down other women. What do you think of the quote that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”?
That’s along the same lines but a bit more extreme [Laughs]. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there’s a special place in hell for them, though. To take a more positive stance on that, I am always so grateful and so appreciative of the women in my life that are supportive. And, likewise, I just want to be that supportive, positive force for other women in my life.
What do you think about the way you’ve been portrayed or been seen by the male gaze?
It kind of shifts with every role that I play. Wolf of Wall Street was the role that put me on the map and what people know of you is by your role. It’s definitely a misrepresentation because I’m not like Naomi. But the more roles that I start to play, the more people can stop seeing me as one particular character. I would hope that people feel that they know my characters quite well, but not me — because if they see me in the role, I’m not doing a very good job at acting.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
2016 Sep 21