At the heart of the story is the loving but complex marriage of Alan and Daphne Milne (Margot Robbie), both struggling with their own demons — for Alan WWI, for Daphne, the traumas of childbirth — but put under further stress when the Winnie the Pooh books become an international phenomenon catapulting their young son on the world stage. Beautifully made with superb performances, it will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. Here actors Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie talk about finding their characters, the pitfalls of fame and what they really think of each other.
Margot Robbie: For me, signing onto this film was a quick and easy decision. The script was incredible. Daphne seemed a dynamic woman and a happy challenge to play. I loved Simon (Curtis)’s work and I know he handles female characters really well. When you sign on for a male director, you have to see how they have handled female characters previously. I already had him on my radar as someone I wanted to work with. And then I heard Domhnall was attached and Domhnall always makes amazing choices so this HAS to be a good film.
Gleeson: So this is my fault!
How did you find your characters?
Robbie: Fortunately, there were so many moments in the script that reminded me of women in my family, who I love and adore and I know they love and adore me back. So whenever her personality seemed particularly abrasive, I could understand it was still coming from a place of love. I actually didn’t find it difficult to like her. In fact, I thought she was quite entertaining some times. Fortunately, I know women in my life who have similar characteristics at times.
Gleeson: I do think Alan certainly loved his child. It was a very different time in England but all over the world. There was a very strong division between the generations and it was about setting an example as opposed to guiding someone through. Also both these characters suffered their own traumas. In my case the war, in Daphne’s during childbirth. They found it difficult to connect to anybody. I think that is a big part of the story, learning to connect with people. I think that’s a beautiful thing to see. And at the far side of that, you’ve got fame tearing it apart.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is partly a film about the perils of fame and celebrity. How have you both negotiated that?
Gleeson: I’ve seen my father (actor Brendan) deal with it. I think being well known, it’s talked about in the film, is an odd thing. People are not built to be well known. That’s not how people are made. Anybody who seeks that there is something inherently missing in them that they have to fill with adulation. So I don’t think that is something I seek out. In terms of trying to be an artist, I want to be a part of as many special things as I can. It’s very arse-y to say but I would like to leave something behind. Being a small part of a great movie or a bigger part of a great movie, there are little ways of leaving something behind. That’s what I am concentrating on.
Robbie: Fame is definitely not damaging or hindering the creative side for me. If anything, it’s enhancing it. Some things hurt but you try to take it all with a grain of salt. Sometimes that is easier said than done. The more I work, the more I want to work. I feel like the creative side will keep growing.
Last thing, how would you describe each other?
Gleeson: I am in awe of Margot. I love her as a person and I love her as an actor. She is amazing. I love knowing her and I really hope we get to work together again. It’s a joy to know her. This better be good now Margot.
Robbie: I think Domhnall is the best actor of our generation. So that’s why I want to keep working with him. Live up to that now!
Gleeson: God dammit Margot!
Goodbye Christopher Robin is available on Blu-ray and Digital from the 21st February.