Margot Robbie appears to be one of those celebrities lucky enough to get famous overnight. It’s like nobody knew who she was, then POOF! There she is, the brightest star in the sky of Hollywood A-listers. But Robbie, born and raised in Australia, had been acting for years, starring in soap opera Neighbours before she came to Hollywood.
Cut to 2019, and Robbie is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. Many of her roles center around her classic beauty and indisputable sex appeal, but Robbie isn’t just another hot blonde. Her characters are poised, whip-smart, and always know more than you think they do.
Not one to be typecast, recent films have found Robbie stepping away from the blonde bombshell archetype and into roles with less glamour and more substance. The past two years has seen Robbie earn Oscar, SAG, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations. She currently stars in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as Sharon Tate, another beautiful blonde with a much more tragic story. Here is: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood There Was Margot Robbie’s 10 Best Roles.
10 Focus (2015)
In Focus, Margot Robbie plays Jess Barrett, an amateur grifter who finds a mentor in seasoned conman Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith). They begin a romantic relationship, but soon learn that in con game, it’s best not to mix business with pleasure.
There were some eyebrows raised at the 22 year age difference between the two leads. But there’s no denying that Robbie and Smith have the sizzling chemistry needed to heat up a heist flick. What’s perhaps more offensive is the film’s constant objectification of Jess. A car scene finds a guy asking Nicky if he’s “hitting that”…while Jess is still in the car. But Robbie’s performance makes it clear that Jess is no bimbo. She’s a hustler who exploits anything and everything to her advantage—including the male gaze.
9 The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Jane Porter, Tarzan’s paramour, is hardly the most badass female character ever depicted. Her biggest claim to fame is her uncanny ability to get kidnapped. She could even give Princess Peach a run for her money.
But in The Legend of Tarzan, Margot Robbie’s Jane is anything but helpless. She’s strong-willed, with a voice and a mind of her own. Sure, Jane still gets kidnapped but she fights back with every fiber of resolve in her entire body. Not only does she surprise her captors, she likely surprised viewers familiar with the Tarzan story and more used to a docile Jane. The film garnered poor reviews and was criticized for its weak, generic plot. But if any scenes are worth watching, they’re definitely Robbie’s.
8 Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad is a bad movie. Despite its vibrant, angry colors and hodge-podge of villains haplessly dithering around, the film is just…bland. Like a box of stale Lucky Charms.
Then there’s Margot Robbie. As Harley Quinn, she fires rounds of life into this snoozer of a movie with a cinematic machine gun. She’s unpredictable, playful, and alive. This is in direct contrast to her zombified male cohorts who only seem to perk up whenever she gets undressed. Watching Harley Quinn become a helpless love slave to Jared Leto’s garish, sideshow version of the Joker is no picnic either. Yet one wouldn’t be surprised if Harley Quinn were to yell “PSYCH!” in the middle of one of these cringey scenes.
Fans who find themselves torn between loathing Suicide Squad and adoring Robbie’s Harley Quinn are in luck. There’s a bevvy of Harley Quinn films in the works, most notably Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which features a female-led creative team with Robbie serving as a producer.
7 Pan Am (2011-2012)
After the success of Mad Men, a wave of sixties-era nostalgia shows began cropping up. One of them was Pan Am, an ABC drama about a group of young stewardesses working for the famed airline. Margot Robbie plays Laura Cameron, the fresh-faced new girl on the block, who is photographed for the cover of Life magazine.
Pan Am‘s most thrilling story lines centered around the stewardesses’ espionage involvement, which Laura was largely left out of. Other than the magazine plotline, most of Laura’s story revolved around a love triangle with a pilot. But even with a fluffier plot, Robbie was a total scene-stealer. Still, in interviews, she expressed hope that Laura would become part of the show’s spy world. But Robbie never got the chance. After just one season, Pan Am was canceled before it could even take off.
6 The Big Short (2015)
Margot Robbie has had her fair share of people leer at her, but in The Big Short, she’s in on the joke. As herself, Robbie luxuriates in a bubble bath and sips from an always full glass of champagne. She’s the pinnacle of glitz and glamour, the quintessential Hollywood sex symbol.
Except she actually has something important to say. The Big Short, a film about the 2008 burst of the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis, was praised for its clever, inventive ways of explaining complex fiduciary terms. One such scene involved plunking Robbie in the bath and having her explain what subprime mortgages are. While viewers may not remember the definition, they’ll always remember the charming Robbie.
5 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
Margot Robbie earns her stripes as a versatile movie star in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. This role is a departure from the several femme fatales and ingénues featured on her resumé. Here, Robbie plays Tanya Vanderpoel, a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan. She befriends newcomer journalist Kim Baker (Tina Fey) and shows her the ropes.
Tanya is cunning, crass, and driven. While she appreciates having another female journalist around, Tanya doesn’t allow her friendship with Kim to stand in the way of her goals. Robbie’s performance is unlike anything we’ve seen from her before. She does terrible things, yet we still like her. It’s a mark of a stellar actor when they give the viewer a true a WTF moment.
4 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Margot Robbie is sunny optimism personified, a stark contrast to the grim fate associated with her character, actress Sharon Tate. Robbie’s Tate drinks in Tinsel Town with all the wonder of Dorothy in Oz, only instead of ruby slippers, Tate has calf-high white boots. She’s at a thrilling moment in life, embracing it with both hands and wholly enjoying the present while at the same time, knowing she’s on the precipice of Hollywood greatness.
The film has been criticized for Robbie’s lack of dialogue, particularly compared to her male co-stars. And this would be a problem if Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a Sharon Tate biopic. Don’t get us wrong—Robbie is so charismatic we’d have loved more scenes focused on her. But the ones we get, she knocks out of the park. Watching Tate watch herself onscreen is as enthralling as any of the film’s action sequences, all thanks to Robbie’s winning performance.
3 The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
In The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s no line Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) won’t cross, no matter how dangerous, depraved, or illegal. He’ll do anything to make a buck—or a billion. But the real wolf of the film is Naomi Lapaglia. She makes easy prey of Jordan and in no time at all, he’s leaving his wife, marrying Naomi, and footing the bill for her happily ever after. But the platitude is true—money doesn’t buy happiness. Soon into their marriage, Naomi and Jordan’s bedroom becomes the UFC Octagon of screaming matches.
In her audition, Robbie actually slapped DiCaprio in the face. This wasn’t scripted and could have cost Robbie her career. But both DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese were so impressed with her performance, they knew they had their Naomi. Naomi could have been a one-note character, but with her calculated intensity, Robbie makes her pop off the screen. The Wolf of Wall Street was Robbie’s breakout movie and it’s easy to see why.
2 Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Naysayers who dismissed Margot Robbie as just a pretty face were silenced with Mary Queen of Scots. She plays Queen Elizabeth I, both the most powerful woman in the world and the most vulnerable. Wearing the crown is all well and good, but you’re a fool if you think someone won’t try and take it from you. Enter Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan). A battle for the throne ensues, as these two formidable women clash over country, religion, and love.
The iron-willed Elizabeth is completely unyielding, yet Robbie shows her humanity. As Elizabeth, unmarried and childless, lives with smallpox, she’s forced to watch Mary live a life of romance, motherhood, and health. The one think Elizabeth had was the throne and it guts her that Mary wants that too. Robbie was nominated for both a SAG and BAFTA for her performance, one of her most complex and gut-wrenching to date.
1 I, Tonya (2017)
Margot Robbie has hit her stride playing real-life people, and I, Tonya is a shining example. Robbie is Tonya Harding, the Olympic figure skater notorious for her “involvement” with the attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan.
I, Tonya is a warts-and-all look at Harding’s tumultuous life. As well as her skating career, the film chronicles Harding’s abusive relationships with her mother (Allison Janney) and husband (Sebastian Stan). Robbie is masterful at making any character look sympathetic, no matter how egregious their actions. But she had a tall order with Harding, who used to be one of the most hated women in the world. Her performance hardly lets Harding off the hook, but questions a world that allowed things to go so far, not just for Kerrigan, but Harding too.
Amidst an avalanche of awards recognition, Robbie received her first Oscar nomination. I, Tonya implores the viewer to always question the truth, but there’s no questioning that Margot Robbie is a Hollywood powerhouse. And she’s here to stay.
NEXT: Amy Adams’ 10 Best Roles, Ranked