Movies

Margot Robbie shines spotlight on DC heroines with Birds Of Prey

Birds Of Prey star Margot Robbie says movie is unpredictable, kooky and colourful, like her character Harley Quinn

When Suicide Squad hit cinemas in 2016, few would have guessed that Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn would turn out to be the DC Comics superhero flick's breakout star.

And now, the character takes centre stage in her own spin-off.

The 29-year-old Australian actress reprises her anti-hero role in the female-led action movie Birds Of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan, written by Christina Hodson and co-starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary.

Robbie has called it a passion project, having pitched it to movie studio Warner Bros and produced it.

Opening here tomorrow, Birds Of Prey tells what happens after Harley breaks up with the Joker and how she teams up with the other women to take down Gotham crime lord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

How did you first come across the Birds Of Prey comics? You have a history with Harley, but what drew you to these other characters?

Four years ago, while we were still shooting Suicide Squad, I had the feeling I wasn't going to be ready to let go of Harley after making that film, and that there was still so much to her that I wanted to explore.

As a fan of hers from reading the comics, I thought there was still so much material there and so much we could look into. Through reading the comics as my research for Harley I ended up reading a lot of the Birds Of Prey comics.

At the time I was also wondering why there weren't more female ensemble action films.

I couldn't think of any recent prominent ones - ones that really hit and everyone loved.

I feel like in real life, so many girls roll together in a group, and it is just such a hive community among females, and I was curious as to why we rarely saw that represented on screen.

So my idea, really, was to make a female ensemble action film, and I thought Birds Of Prey would be a great platform for that because there are so many different characters in the comics that weave in and out of the main group that there would be more opportunity in that sort of grouping.

We really wanted to tell a story that had a female ensemble cast, that worked in the action/comedy space, and didn't feel formulaic.

We really didn't want the three act structure to be so obvious that the audience would know what's going to come next.

So, unpredictable like Harley herself?

Exactly.

I was starting to feel quite desensitised to cities being blown up.

So I was hoping to contain the world to a certain part of Gotham, mafia or gang level sort of stakes, which are still life-and-death stakes, but you don't have a huge computer-graphics sequence where all of Gotham is blown up.

It also has the advantage of explaining why Batman isn't diving in to save the day.

It is good to incorporate a character from within the Gotham police department - detective Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez.

She was such an exciting actor for this role because she has this incredible presence and power about her.

She has this amazing attitude and this force, and she really projects the idea that she won't give up. And she's tough. She feels like someone who grew up in this world and just keeps pushing forward.

Rosie identified with the character in her own ways, and we wanted an eclectic group.

We wanted varying personalities. We wanted characters who had different points of view, different moral compasses and also we wanted to diversify what a girl gang could look like, not just with race, but with age.

And Rosie is so proud of the fact that she's the oldest in the group and yet kicks ass with the rest of them.

She is incredible. That woman doesn't stop.

How does Harley, who is not traditionally part of this heroic girl gang, fit in with the other characters?

This whole movie really is an origin story and a platform for the Birds Of Prey to come together.

But I really recognised once Suicide Squad came out how much fan support was behind Harley, and how much people said, "I want to see more Harley."

Which was amazing and such a gift, but I wanted that to happen for other female DC characters, because there are so many, and they're amazing. So, I thought, let's put as many DC female characters in here as we can.

What do you want viewers to get out of the experience of watching this movie?

I want them to have fun and experience the world through Harley's eyes. For two hours you're going to hear her version of events.

She's our narrator, and she's doing a terrible job of it. She's lying constantly. She's unreliable. She's often telling you something that contradicts what you're seeing on-screen - such as how the break-up with the Joker is going.

She is jumping around in the story. She is forgetting to introduce you to people.

Her personality is ingrained in every scene, in the way she tells this story and how the film-making plays out.

It's a little kooky, it's very colourful, it's very funny, it's dangerous, it's violent, it's fun. It's Harley.

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