Margot Robbie has come a very long way since her days playing fiery teenager Donna Freedman in Neighbours.
Since then, the Aussie star, 32, has become one of film’s most in-demand leading ladies, starring in movies such as Bombshell, Amsterdam and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
So it’s hard to believe that only 10 years ago she was still finding her feet in Tinseltown.
Sitting down to chat at BAFTA’s Central London headquarters, she candidly recalls her journey from humble soap actress to global megastar – and what a trip it has been so far.
Margot was aged just 17 when she landed the role of Donna in the much-loved soap – and she now feels only pride for her Ramsay Street beginnings.
"I attribute so much of who and what I am now to being on Neighbours," she says. "I didn’t go to film school or drama school – I wish that I had – but I learnt on the job. I did three years, some of the greatest years of my life.
"It was like they were my university years and my last day on Neighbours was like graduating."
Margot also famously joined Ramsay Street veterans Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce for Neighbours’ final episode.
"Everyone on that show I was really close with, and not just because I spent that amount of time with them, but because I was 17 when I started living in Melbourne," she says. "To me, that was the Big Smoke. I didn’t know anyone."
As well as helping her develop as an actress, her castmates taught her valuable life lessons off-screen, too.
"Toadie [Ryan Moloney] taught me how to do my taxes," she said. "And Susan Kennedy [Jackie Woodburne] showed me how to roast a chicken."
After 300 episodes, a then 20-year-old Margot felt her time on the soap had run its course and she set her sights on cracking Hollywood.
She asked her soap bosses to kill her character off "in a big spectacular death", but they refused, telling her they would keep the door open in case "it doesn’t work out in America".
That, she reveals, gave her just the incentive she needed to succeed.
"I was like, ‘I love you all, but I’m gonna make it in America, I promise you," she says. "You don’t need to keep my job free!’"
Two years after leaving Melbourne, Margot made her feature film debut in Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy About Time, alongside Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams.
"We had trailers. I had never seen a trailer before," she laughs.
That same year saw Margot steal the attention of several big-name directors, including Martin Scorsese, who cast her as Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf Of Wall Street, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
"I know this sounds silly now, knowing how big the movie became, but at the time I was like, ‘No one’s gonna notice me in this film. It doesn’t matter what I do in this film because they’re gonna focus on Leo and I’ll just slip under the radar,’" she says.
The role meant filming her first-ever nude scene aged just 22.
Understandably, it wasn’t the easiest experience and Margot confesses she "had a couple of shots of tequila before shooting because I was very nervous".
But working with the Taxi Driver and Goodfellas legend was an exceptional learning experience.
After The Wolf Of Wall Street became a critical and commercial smash, Margot found herself as one of the most sought-after young actresses in Hollywood.
In 2014, she started her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, alongside her British husband, film producer Tom Ackerley, 32, who she married in Byron Bay, Australia, in December 2016.
And while Margot has said that "being in a long-distance relationship can be really hard", she ensures they never spend longer than three weeks apart.
The hit biopic I, Tonya was LuckyChap’s first major production and famously focused on the life of controversial US figure skater Tonya Harding and the story surrounding the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.
Margot received Oscar and BAFTA nominations for her performance as Tonya, who she first thought was a fictional character.
"I had no idea that Tonya Harding was a real-life person," Margot admits. "I thought, ‘This screenwriter [Craig Gillespie] is off the charts, nuts – so specific and weird.’ And then I found out it was all true."
In preparation for the part – and feeling the pressure of playing a real person for the first time – the actress met with Tonya.
"I got to kind of ask all my questions and her answers and her general demeanour was really enlightening and helpful," she says. "I did feel really responsible."
Drawing confidence from the positive reviews she received for I, Tonya, ambitious Margot wrote a letter to Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino, begging him to cast her in one of his upcoming movies.
"I always knew that being on a Quentin Tarantino set was a bucket-list thing for me," she says. "And I didn’t really feel that I was good enough until I saw I, Tonya. It was the first time I thought, ‘OK, I’m good enough to reach out to him.’"
In 2019, Margot’s wish was granted when Tarantino offered her the part of Sharon Tate in his comedy-drama Once Upon A Time In Hollywood alongside her old Wolf Of Wall Street pal Leonardo DiCaprio.
Pregnant actress Sharon was tragically murdered by members of the Manson Family cult in 1969. Margot says playing yet another real-life figure came with its own set of challenges.
"I spent time with her [Sharon’s] sister," Margot discloses. "The interesting thing about playing Sharon was I wanted her to be exuding light and goodness, happiness. Playing her was like being on holiday every day. It was delightful."
Another learning curve came when, that same year, Margot landed a major role in Bombshell, a drama on the theme of sexual harassment, alongside fellow Hollywood actresses Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman.
"I didn’t know the definition of sexual harassment," Margot confesses. "That shocked me. When I finished that script, it horrified me how that particular crime plays in the grey area. That’s where it really flourishes. When a situation isn’t black and white.
"That’s when insidious people like [TV executive] Roger Ailes or [film producer] Harvey Weinstein take advantage of the grey area."
Asked whether she believes movies such as Bombshell helped to shed light on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, she says, "I think it’s a big ship to turn around.
"But it’s definitely moving in the right direction, I feel. [Bombshell] was an interesting exploration, but it was definitely something I wanted to tap out of at the end."
Next year the versatile actress, who’s also enjoyed critical acclaim with the historical drama Mary Queen Of Scots, will star in the highly anticipated Barbie movie, in which she plays the iconic doll opposite Ryan Gosling’s Ken.
And it’s clear the star still can’t quite believe her own luck.
"So many times I feel like it’s a ridiculous way to make a living," she laughs as she reflects on her acting career so far. "We’re getting paid to do this. It’s ridiculous and wonderful."
Margot was speaking at BAFTA: A Life in Pictures with Margot Robbie supported by TCL.
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