There is a kind of cognitive dissonance that can happen when audiences watch an actor repeatedly play the same role in a franchise. At a certain point (with an active enough imagination and ability to dismiss the realities of filmmaking) you start to identify the performer with the part, and you feel like they become a kind of guardian of the character – ultimately guiding them forward in stories as they do their own normal lives.
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is a great example of this, as the Australian star has become an on-screen favorite among DC fans, and has had a massive impact on the villain’s pop culture presence. At the same time, though, Robbie is also open about the fact that she doesn’t precisely have a controlling stake in Harley’s future, and can be as excited as anybody to discover where filmmakers will take the character next.
As featured in the video at the top of this article, I had the chance to talk all about Harley Quinn with Margot Robbie during the recent virtual press day for writer/director James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. I asked Robbie about her experience working with filmmakers like Gunn and Birds of Prey’s Cathy Yan and molding Harley as a character, and she openly explained how she doesn’t have a great deal of power in terms of mapping out arcs. Instead, it’s mostly about trusting the people she works with. She said,
I don't really have that much authorship over where they take... Where different directors.... I mean, on Birds Of Prey I was a producer, so I had more of a say, but I felt very confident in James Gunn's hands that she was going to be handled with respect to the character and the fan base, because he understands that, you know? So I was as curious as anyone opening that script up to see like, 'Okay, what's his version of Harley and what's she like?'
It ended up being that James Gunn had a fantastic take for Harley Quinn, and he loved writing the character in the making of The Suicide Squad. There aren’t strict connections made to the events featured in either David Ayer’s Suicide Squad or Birds Of Prey (save for her preexisting relationships with Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag), but the movie does continue her evolution into being a more independent individual who also still remains a chaotic psychotic.
Once Margot Robbie did open her script for The Suicide Squad and read what James Gunn had in store for Harley Quinn, her anticipation for being a part of the project and working with the writer/director evidently only went up. Said Robbie,
Knowing that, I felt confident that he's always going to honor the source material and therefore I felt very like, 'Okay, she's in good hands. It's going to be okay.' And I was just excited to see what he wanted her to do.
The Suicide Squad is a film with a truly stunning ensemble – with audiences falling in love with everyone including Daniela Mechoir’s Ratcatcher 2, Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark, and even Sean Gunn’s Weasel – but Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is unquestionably one of the best aspects of the blockbuster, and it’s a joy to see the actor continue to have a blast in the role.
The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. To discover all of the DC films that are presently on the horizon, check out our Upcoming DC Movies guide.