There’s a moment in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad -- pictured above -- when Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), in the middle of a mission, tries to steal a purse from a storefront window. “We’re bad guys,” Harley purrs. “It’s what we do.” That’s an important point when people are telling stories in this universe, and one that Robbie fought to ensure that Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan didn’t forget.
Which is refreshing and encouraging to hear, because Margot Robbie (at this point) has complete and total ownership over the on-screen version of Harley Quinn heading into Birds of Prey. When we sat down with the actress at the London press events for Birds of Prey, Robbie opened up about how Cathy Yan was interested in exploring the vulnerable side of the unpredictable villain. And the leading lady pushed back on the idea a tad:
This made me so happy. There can be a tendency, when creating a story around a beloved character, to soften their edges. Venom, as an example, became more of an anti-hero in his first solo movie, and likely will be the protagonist of Venom 2 as he goes up against a truly maniacal foe in Carnage (Woody Harrelson).
This is not the case with Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey. She is every bit the troublemaker that fans want her to be, making things difficult for Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) as well as for the individual members of the Birds of Prey. They begrudgingly have to work with Harley, but no one loves it. Harley’s not a team player.
And Margot Robbie had to push Cathy Yan to remember that during the storytelling process, stating:
We did want to see that real-life side of her. But, I think Cathy was loving the vulnerable, fun and sweet version of Harley and I had to keep being like, ‘She’s a bad person, still. She can’t be good. She is a shitty person.’ [laughs] We can’t forget that.
To do so would be to betray the essence of Harley Quinn, and you love to hear that Margot Robbie understands it, embraces it, and protects it as she continues to explore the character on screen.
Robbie will next be given an opportunity to show off yet another side of Quinn when she plays the role for James Gunn’s planned The Suicide Squad, due in theaters in August 2021. We hope that she continues to play this character for years to come, and is always given the chance to collaborate with a new director to bring out different sides of Harley Quinn, because we love the range that Robbie has been able to show to date.
Look for Birds of Prey in a theater near you starting tonight.