In every iconic Martin Scorsese film there’s always a fierce female character that we admire, fall in love and sympathize with as they go through some terrible ordeals. In Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” we have another tough woman on the big screen. When she’s first introduced, “The Duchess of Bay Ridge” appears to be a submissive lamb but as the story unfolds you see the true dimensions of her character, brought to life by actress Margot Robbie.
The actress took a big chance, sending in her audition tape never knowing it would end up in the hands of Martin Scorsese. A few months later and she’s off shooting “The Wolf of Wall Street,” sharing the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and many others. The actress may have a strong New York accent in the film, but she’s actually Australian. She gives an incredible performance as Naomi which is why we were more than happy to speak with her on one of the best movies of 2013. The kind woman was able to talk with Latino Review about her experience working with nudity, meeting Nadine who is the real Naomi, and a particularly iconic bedroom scene with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Did you meet Nadine before you started shooting?
Margot Robbie: I did meet her. I met her before we started filming. I had the choice to meet her or not and I took the choice opting to meet her. It wasn’t really integral to meet her to inform my character because I wasn’t trying to portray her, and I explained that to her that I wasn’t portraying her. I was creating a character that was in the same situation that she was in, that lived a life similar to what she was in but by no means trying to be her or portray her at that time. She was really great about it, really understand and really quite unfazed by it all, which is a real attribute to her as how strong she is as a person.
She has to be to have put up with Jordan and the shenanigans. What I did take away from her, not only to see how awesome she was and to see okay, now I get why he was so obsessed with her, I’m obsessed with her for meeting her for a half hour, I was in love with her. When I asked her what would you fight about, she would say the drugs. The fact that he was a drug addict. Because he conveniently doesn’t mention that so much in the books. He mentioned that they fought about him sleeping with hookers and him coming home late and all those kind of things. In her version of events she didn’t care about the hookers, she didn’t care about him coming home late. He’s a man, he’s going to f–k around and s–t. She doesn’t really have a filter in what she says.
Then I was like what did you guys fight about? She said that he would be doing crack in front of our newborn baby. Any mother would divorce their husband for that. That could justify any irrational, crazy behavior if it was out of protection for your child. So that was so helpful for my character because then I could do or say any horrible thing and know that my character’s motivation was out of protection for her child. Whether or not the audience sees my side of events on the matter, just to know that’s my motivation can give me an authentic performance. You’re not meant to sympathize with my character so the audience doesn’t necessarily need to see my version of events. You just need to see Jordan’s version of events and if you get the opportunity to sympathize with Naomi’s situation that’s great, some people do, but that’s not necessarily the goal of the film. I needed that so that I could feel confident in giving an authentic performance.
How were you persuaded to do some of the more risqué scenes in the movie?
Margot Robbie: It’s funny, in hindsight I really don’t know why I had an issue to begin with. I see why I did, because it’s kind of hard to do it the first time. It seemed really intimidating. Now that I’ve done it ti doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. It was even back then, it wasn’t like I couldn’t see why the character could have needed it. There was no question as to why it was in there. There’s scripts I pick up where it’s like there’s no reason why she’s getting her clothes off. That’s just so stupid. That’s just nudity for the sake of nudity, and that I do not agree with ever. But when the nudity is warranted, I totally agree with it. I don’t think there’s anything shameful in that. I think if it’s justified and the character would do it then it should be there. And in this case, that’s Naomi’s power over Jordan. That’s the only way of her getting what she wants. That’s her only form of currency in a world where millionaires, and she comes from nothing. That’s her only way of her creating a better life for herself and getting what she wants, the fact that she’s aware of the sexual power she has over men, and especially over Jordan. It makes perfect sense for her to use her body to manipulate him. Also, for the sake of showing it onscreen, it’s that confronting kind of shock value for the audience that the film has all the way through. I can absolutely see why the film needed it, though it was never a question as why the character is doing it, it’s a question of if I was able to do with that. It’s just different with this day and age because there’s the internet. If I do this then this will forever be, there will be youtube clips of this, slow-motion versions of this. It’s not just me, it’s not just a repercussion on myself, but my brothers have to deal with that, my grandparents have to deal with that. It’s not just something that affects me, it effects everyone around me. It’s not just something to be taken lightly so I obviously put a lot of thought in it.
If there’s ever a time to do nudity, it’s in the hands of Martin Scorsese who’s going to do it tastefully. Who doesn’t exploit nudity. There isn’t nudity but there’s violence, a lot of violence, which he does so well, but he doesn’t use nudity as a tool for shock value. It’s not something he utilizes or takes advantage of. I felt totally confident in that it would be done well and it would be done tastefully. I knew that if there was ever going to be a time in my career to do it, then this was going to be it. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Yes it’s a sacrifice to make, there’s going to be a downside, yes it’s going to be intimidating. It’s not so much on the day doing it. I’m not scared about on the day and filming it around the crew and whatever because I know the crews are professional. It’s more like the having it physically recorded forever and all that ended up being, it was so worth doing having the experience I had for sure. And it was done so well and everyone gets naked in the movie anyways. That was like a drop in the pond in the grand scheme of things.
Have you ever done a New York accent before?
Margot Robbie: No I haven’t. This is how specific I was hoping it would be. It was meant to be a Bay Ridge accent from the beginning, and once they were living in Long Island I wanted it to have Long Island influences, but I also wanted her to make a conscious effort to dull down the Brooklyn from the accent because I wanted her to be aware that she was hanging out with people with a lot of money, and that she would be a little bit embarrassed of her original, humble beginnings.
Speaking of yelling, now the scene of you drenching Leonardo DiCaprio in water popped in my head. How many times did you have to drench poor DiCaprio in water.
Margot Robbie: So many times! It was so funny about the angle I was throwing the water and how it was hitting him. It was like, and this is going to sound really bizarre, some how got up inside his eyelids and I was temporarily blinding him. He didn’t tell me until like the fourth take. Every time he would be doing [hands hit the table] this and I was like God, he’s a good actor. And then by the 4th time he says you need to like throw it at my chin or something. I was like what’s wrong? He’s like I cannot see anything! I was like I’m so sorry, why didn’t you say anything!? Yea, we did that a lot of times. I felt really bad.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is out in theaters now.