Before we dig into the charcuterie of mung that is the actual profile of Margot Robbie, let’s check out the cover itself:
It’s better than the Vogue cover, on which she was (I assume inadvertently) painted like a Goldfinger victim, but it’s also a weird combination of looking like Naomi Watts and an SI: Swimsuit Issue photograph. I also don’t know that I would have gone with the subhead about her on the cover, because the story has little to do with that. It’s The Summer of Margot Robbie. Just stick with that and don’t try to parse the point of a profile that is pointless and unparseable. Don’t believe me? JUST YOU WAIT.
Actually, don’t. Let’s get into it now. In fact, let’s start with the very first line. And I must warn you that this profile made me SUPER CRANKY, so if you don’t want that, close this tab. If you’re down with the crabby, then proceed.
The honest-to-God first line of this profile — although the entire first PARAGRAPH is very long, this is how it opens — reads thusly:
America is so far gone, we have to go to Australia to find a girl next door.
So, what, American women are all terrible skanks now? American women are responsible for the social decay that’s happening in this country? American women are the worst? Australian women are quaint and easily digestible? There are a hundred ways to bristle at this asinine statement, and the fact that it’s the first line of the profile may give you some indication why Jessica told me she had to stop reading and take a break.
The writer IDs the new Girl Next Door as Margot Robbie, then proceeds to describe her thusly:
She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance. She is blonde but dark at the roots.
Okay. First, in THEORY, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with discussing what a celebrity looks like in person, because it’s the thing about which people are often the most curious — is he taller? Is she tanner? Are those eyes as amazing? — and it’s something people comment on with men as often as with women. We wrote a piece about seeing Helen Mirren at Fashion Week, and we discussed at length that she is just as awesome-looking as you want her to be. But it can be done in a way that does not leak lasciviousness, and does not create the feeling — even if said feeling is untrue — that the author is fantasizing about the subject. Further, Margot Robbie is a 26-year old bombshell of a movie star who is on the cover in a bikini. The profile should strive to prove that her looks are not the first or foremost point of interest about her, and instead this profile LEADS with them.
In addition, the writing here is full of weird contradictions and word choices. The use if “a minor, knock-around key” is odd in an age where the phrase “knock around” often refers to violence more often than “hey we’re hanging out playing the piano.” And calling her beauty a “minor” key and taking fetishized notice of her dark roots implies he thinks she’s dirty-pretty, which is a gnarly thing to think or say. I am no stranger to writing something and then realizing it did not come off the way I meant it, but I also don’t have an army of editors reading my prose, signing off on it, and then painstakingly laying it out next to artful photos in a glossy magazine. I don’t have a net. This writer did, and that net failed.
She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes
So… not tall, then.
She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character.
Because you have seen her naked and NOT in character? Or are you just so comfortable expounding upon her unclothed demeanor because you’ve spent a lot of time pondering it? Also, this reads like you find it uncommon that regular women can manage to be either sexy or composed — or both — while also naked, which is idiotic. I, and every women in the world I have ever met, am perfectly capable of ditching my clothes right now and not suddenly dissolving into a puddle of tears and insanity. And most importantly, WHY IS THIS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE STORY?
As I said, she is from Australia. To understand her, you should think about what that means. Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback, which is why you go there for throwback people. They still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas in Melbourne and Perth, still dwell in a single mass market in Adelaide and Sydney. In the morning, they watch Australia’s Today show. In other words, it’s just like America, only different.
Yes, ha ha ha, Australia UR so silly! U don’t even watch Good Morning America!!! Whats wrong w U.
When everyone here is awake, everyone there is asleep, which makes it a perfect perch from which to study our customs, habits, accents.
OMG YOU GUYS AUSTRALIA IS WATCHING YOU SLEEP. And Australia — EVERYONE in Australia, every single one of them — has nothing better to do than slavishly gaze upon us and try to copy our every move! Right now they’re trying to figure out how the entire continent can set sail into the northern hemisphere! Australia, are you pirates?!?!!?
An ambitious Australian actor views Hollywood the way the Martians view Earth at the beginning of The War of the Worlds. Which was Robbie.
Translation: Margot Robbie wants to destroy us all and eat our planet… and worse, make it habitable for, wait for it, MORE AUSTRALIANS.
She wandered through the room like a second-semester freshman, finally at ease with the system.
It is admittedly extremely hard for a woman from Australia to figure out how to walk in the U.S. They do it clockwise over there, you see.
She stopped at tables along the way to talk to friends. I don’t remember what she was wearing, but it was simple, her hair combed around those painfully blue eyes. We sat in the corner. She looked at me and smiled.
If you think this is where we get a quote — perhaps a kicky greeting, a funny getting-to-know-you anecdote, you would be wrong. Instead, the piece launches into a description of her background, and it’s here that I realized it’s possible Margot Robbie sat down at that table and smiled and then was met with SILENCE because this was a terrible terrible interview.
Now and then, she stayed with cousins who lived in the hinterland of the hinterland, where there really were kangaroos and a dingo really will eat your baby. When she talks about it, you see the arid country, the horizon on every side, blue sky, yellow fields. “But I don’t like to talk about it,” she says, because it only “encourages stereotypes. People always want to know, ‘Did you have kangaroos outside your bedroom window?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, but none of my other friends did.’ Or ‘Did you have snakes running around?’ And again, ‘Yes, in our house, but this isn’t an Australian thing.’”
Yes, you read that correctly. Margot Robbie, when asked about her rural background, tried very hard NOT to let Australia be pigeonholed into a ridiculous stereotype, only for this writer — here, and in the lede, with the “throwback people” remark and all the rest — to build a massive Donald Trump-style wall of stereotypes around her and then stick Vanity Fair with the tab. Well done, sir.
A few weeks after that, she was famous. In Australia.
So not like REAL famous, or anything. Poor Margot, only famous in Oztralia or whatever that strange backward place is called!!!!
At one time or another, just about every actor who starred in an Aussie soap has gone to Hollywood. Some succeeded. Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Chris Hemsworth. Most failed. Robbie studied these people and their fates as you might study the lives of the saints, paying special attention to the washouts. Failure is what teaches you—you learn more from a wreck than from a victory
Margot Robbie surely read this profile while her eyebrows crept further and further up into her hairline. If this guy had ANYTHING from her on the record about studying those people “as you might study the lives of the saints,” he would have used the direct quote. Don’t you think? Because if you get it from the source, it’s always more effective.
Also, by now, we’ve cruised through a lot of fertile ground: How she transitioned from a student film into acting in Melbourne, for example; the fact that she worked in a kids’ show with Liam Hemsworth gets one line and no other perspective. There is nothing personal to color what is, essentially, a florid regurgitation of a Wikipedia page. Later, there’s an anecdote about how she deviated from the script and slapped DiCaprio across the face in her Wolf of Wall Street audition, and got the part — but with no quote about this, no nugget of information, not even anything from Leo about this defining moment in her life.
Other roles followed, none particularly memorable. […]But none of that matters. It was Wolf that defined her. It put her up with Sharon Stone in Casino and Cathy Moriarty in Raging Bull — one of Scorsese’s women.
This is meant as a compliment. It is, instead, extremely dismissive and reductive. The term “one of Scorsese’s women” rewrites Robbie and Stone and Moriarty — each of them an individual, unique and strong — into a bland posse that belongs to their male director.
Because Robbie is new on the scene, reporters are trying to fix her with a narrative. The job of the celebrity journalist: peg ‘em so it’s not only as if you know ‘em but always have known ‘em or someone just like ‘em.
But THIS reporter isn’t doing that, or else he wouldn’t be using all those folksy apostrophes!!
But Robbie is too fresh to be pegged. Less being than becoming. The most recent theory has her as a celebrity uncomfortable with fame. […] I asked Robbie about this emerging story line. I called it a thesis.
Because I’m RL SMRT.
[S]he leads a fairly ordinary life. It’s the luxury of being from the bottom of the world.
Get it yet? Australia is the sweaty foot arch of the planet.
The profile devolves into “I asked her this” and then her response, most of the questions unrelated and unimaginative (what her first days in the US were like, as if Australia is deepest Siberia; how she left Neighbours;”Did you go back and watch the old Tarzans?”). I understand it can be hard for a writer not to insert him or herself into a profile, because so much of those pieces come from whether you formed an easy bond, but it should be possible to thread it together without “I said this and she said that and I asked this and she said that.”
To that point, then there is a LENGTHY discussion of the late Jerry Weintraub — producer of all Tarzans — and of the writer’s feelings while watching the reboot. He lets Margot deliver a perfunctory bite about how sad it is that Jerry Weintraub died before the new movie premiered, and then follows it with this inanity:
This made me feel lonesome and sad.
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. SLOW YOUR WANK.
The notion that a person like Jerry Weintraub can just vanish from the earth, that he can be removed like a piece from the chessboard, and the game goes on—it’s so ludicrous, such a cruel pie in the face of humanity, it’s better we don’t even talk about it. Of course, I could not stop thinking about him. In his red silk robe, with his pale legs and ankles, lying atop his bed in Beverly Hills, his German shepherd, Sonny, at his side, drinking a vodka or saying a prayer or calling through the intercom for Susie Ekins, his significant other and a producer on Tarzan — Soozie. Sooz. Soozie. Sooz..
IT IS ALSO NOT ABOUT JERRY WEINTRAUB OR HIS PALE ANKLES OR HIS ROBE OR THE FACT THAT YOU KNOW ABOUT HIS PALE ANKLES AND HIS ROBE AND WHAT JERRY’S PET NAKE FOR SUSIE WAS. What is even HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
I’m just going to quote the end of the piece in its entirety here, beginning with Margot speaking.
“I hadn’t done a proper sex scene before. I’d done scenes where it’s leading into sex or sex has just finished, but I hadn’t done a start-to-finish sex scene like I did in Wolf. That was my first.”
“Is there any way to prepare?”
“No. Tons of people are watching you.”
“Were you worried you were not going to be able to do it?”
“There isn’t an option. It’s just like, This is what you need to do—get on with it. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can stop doing it.”
“It just seems very awkward.”
“It’s so awkward.”
We sat for a moment in silence. She was thinking of something; I was thinking of something else. Then she stood, said good-bye, and went to see a friend across the room. Jerry was right. She looked just like Audrey Hepburn going away.
AND SCENE. “It’s so awkward” is a phrase that must have described this entire encounter. Ten bucks says the “something” she was thinking about was, “I need to get the f out of here,” and that the “something” HE was thinking about involved her and banging (for that is what the juxtaposition of anecdote and conclusion certainly implies).
The piece reads like an interview in which subject and questioner had zero chemistry. But it’s an interviewer’s job to find that, or fix it, rather than go home and throw Google searches at the problem. Frankly, when I read that conclusion and it so strongly created the image of her just casually standing up and leaving, I wanted to shake her hand. Australia has a right to be offended by the finished article (and it is, from what I’ve read). So too does Margot Robbie, though I suspect she will calmly say nothing. She’s already won, honestly. She, somehow, still comes across as normal and cool even though she’s not given as much voice as she deserves.