Will Smith was convinced Margot Robbie wasn’t interested in playing the female lead in his new movie “Focus” when she arrived at the audition. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, her hair had not been done and she was dressed like a beach bum.
And yet, she got the role. The film opened Friday, Feb. 27.
The reason the stunning blonde, who was the subject of so much chatter on the red carpet pf the Academy Awards because of how good she looked, was in such a state was because she had traveled halfway around the globe to try out for the part of the female con artist.
She was on vacation in Croatia when the call came to get to New York. Her luggage was lost and all she had were the wet clothes on her back. She had been swimming just before the call came and only had 20 minutes to pack and get to the ferry off the island where she was staying.
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And, she hadn’t slept in two days.
“I walked in in wet sneakers, denim shorts and a top I bought on the way to the audition. I had been wearing a pajama top and didn’t think I should meet Will Smith that way,” Robbie says.
Producers knew right away she was the person for the role. They saw what co-star Gerald McRaney saw in her. He describes Robbie as being a “smarter Marilyn Monroe” because of her beauty and comic timing.
Those looks came in handy playing a con artist. Apollo Robbins, the professional con artist who was the adviser on the film, explains that when someone looks like Robbie, they are a distraction and you trust them.
“There is an expectation of what you think she is and what you think she isn’t. That’s really the exploitation. That gives them a capacity to run a con,” Robbins says.
That held true on set. Robbie was the quickest to learn the tricks of the trade.
She also found chemistry with Smith, a good ting because they are both starring in the comic-book inspired film “Suicide Squad.” She landed the coveted role of Harley Quinn.
It’s another movie where Robbie will be surrounded by a mostly male cast.
“I seem to keep making movies that are real boys clubs and I’m the only girl,” she says. “It’s kind of fun working with the guys. They were really great. It was like I inherited a bunch of older brothers. They took me under their wings and were really wonderful,”
Austin doubles for Modesto
ABC’s “American Crime” is drama about a murder investigation that takes place in Modesto. The series, created by “12 Years a Slave” writer John Ridley, stars Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton. It launches Thursday, March 5.
ABC executive Paul Lee calls “American Crime” one of the most powerful pieces of television he’s ever been associated with in his career.
“I think John Ridley has just done an amazing job with it. It’s raw. It’s emotional. The finale packs a power punch that I haven’t seen in a very, very long time. And it does just a superb job of breaking the rules, being a ground breaker but also connecting in a deeply emotional way. So I really love that show,” Lee says.
Although the series was filmed in Austin, Texas, the story unfolds in Central California. Ridley wanted to set the show in a city that had not been used repeatedly in TV and film.
“There are so many cities, whether it’s North, South, Midwest, they people have expectations. They come in with preconceptions about that kind of a city. And what we thought that was very interesting about Modesto is it’s a city that perhaps maybe you’ve heard of, but you can’t necessarily think of anything,” Ridley says. “It’s California, and a lot of people just automatically think California is wildly a blue state and very blue people. But it’s a big state. It’s a complex state. There’s a lot of thought that’s going on in this state, and people are very different.
“And also, that reality that it’s just big enough and small enough that an event like this could take on its own emotional velocity in a way that it takes over a space.”
Ridley liked having the show set in Modesto so he could blend characters who have an emotional connection to the city with those who come to town as part of the story.
“It really was like setting a stage where you have people who this city is their life, their livelihood, their friends, their family and other people who are coming into it and have an expectation of what should happen or a belief that things aren’t happening because they are outsiders, because they are not from this environment and what that means when they feel like they need to make things happen,” Ridley says. “Modesto represented an amazing canvas that could be any city but was not forward in the sense that New York, L.A., Atlanta, somewhere in Mississippi.”