“So it wasn’t until I even finished the script that I began to start thinking, ‘OK well, who am I going to get to play her?”’ His only choice was Gold Coast-raised Margot Robbie, 29. “I’m not just saying this because I’m trying to be flattering,” he insists. “I did not have a number two. To me, Margot was absolutely, utterly perfect ... she has the dynamic visual and personality quality of a ‘60s ‘It Girl’ and is also a terrific actress who could hold her weight in this triangle with two of the biggest stars of their generation.” Robbie, who shares the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, talks to WHO about landing her dream gig, blanking A-listers and the value of a good girl gang.
Is it true you wrote a fan letter to Quentin Tarantino? How did the experience of working with him live up to your expectations?
I did write him a letter just to let him know that I’ve loved his films as long as I can remember and that I would so love to see him work at some point. I think I offered to work in craft service or something just to get onto one of his sets. I didn’t even know if the letter would get to him, but it did, and then he asked for a meeting, and that’s when he told me about the project, which I think was in super, super early stages. It was another little while until I could read the script. But fast-forwarding to the actual experience of working with him, as a massive Tarantino fan, my expectations could not have been higher, and he exceeded them.
How did you bond with the actor who played Roman Polanski?
Rafi [polish actor Rafał Zawierucha] plays [Roman Polanski, Tate’s director husband] and we spent a lot of time together, and he’s the greatest guy. This was his first film in America, and all of a sudden he’s in this 1960s car in a scene next to Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio on a Tarantino set. He was just freaking out as much as I was. My first film in America was The Wolf of Wall Street with [Martin] Scorsese and again an amazing cast and it was actually quite a joy to be able to show Rafi LA and Hollywood. I’d take him to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to go see the movies or fun things I found in LA that I loved. So it was actually quite a nice bonding experience to work with him because we do have quite a lot of scenes together. A lot of scenes obviously don’t make it into the movie.
There’s a lot of great dancing in the movie. Do you enjoy that?
I love dancing at home and I love dancing with my friends, so the most fun part of filming for me was all the dancing. We did this whole go-go dancing sequence in front of a black and white backdrop, and I loved it.
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What films did Quentin recommend you watch as research?
We did have cast and crew movie nights. We watched The Great Escape because there was a whole big storyline about Leo’s character Rick Dalton almost getting Steve McQueen’s role in The Great Escape, and Al Pacino’s movies since he was in the film and around during that time. Obviously, I watched a lot of Sharon Tate’s films. I haven’t met Roman Polanski and didn’t watch all of his movies, but I watched Rosemary’s Baby, because you hear Leo’s character reference it and I hadn’t seen it. It was brilliant.
There’s a scene where Sharon is surrounded by famous people at a Playboy Mansion party. Do you remember your first big Hollywood party?
I don’t know what the first giant party would have been, but I definitely remember the Vanity Fair post-Oscars party was the first time I saw more famous people in one place than I had ever seen before!
Who were you impressed by at that party?
Honestly, I’m not just saying this, but I could stand next to the most famous person in the world and have no idea. My friend later will be like, ‘That was Beyoncé!’ and I was like, ‘Oh, was it? I didn’t even look! I missed it!’ My best friend was with me for the whole night, and she’d say, ‘You were dancing next to this person’, and it was someone iconic and I was just having a boogie and missed it all completely.
Your version of Sharon Tate was so light and happy it took the tension out of worrying about how it would end for her. Was that Quentin’s direction?
This is a character that Quentin cares so deeply about, and you could tell that he wanted to honour her memory and redirect people’s focus to her life and not how she died. And it’s impossible to look into Sharon Tate and not fall in love with her. Every interview, every film with her as I watched, she’s so easy to adore, she just exuded goodness and kindness and fun and joie de vivre and I fell in love with her, I absolutely fell in love with her.
You have a production company with friends [LuckyChap Entertainment], including your husband, Tom Ackerley. What does friendship mean to you?
It’s everything. It’s the family you make for yourself. The best thing I have in my life is my friendships. I could talk for hours about my friendships. My girl group in Australia; we’ve been best friends since we were 4 years old and they’re coming over for the premiere, so it’s a strong girl gang!
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