When Focus star Margot Robbie was college-age in Australia, she didn’t know it, but she scored some training for her role opposite Will Smith as a con woman seeking to learn the biz from Smith’s master.
“I started working on a TV show in Australia, straight out of high school. I missed the whole university experience. I would just go to all the university parties with all my friends, and if anyone was like, ‘Do I know you?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m studying here.’ They’d be like, ‘Studying what?’ I’d say, ‘Marine biology.’ I would just pick a new student that I would be every time I went to these university events,” Robbie said of her soiree-related con.
“So I didn’t feel like I missed out on the university experience. It was fun.”
Margot Robbie became a household name from her incredible turn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, and now she is going toe-to-toe with Smith in the story of a couple of cons and the grifting they do across the film from the makers of Crazy Stupid Love.
“I seem to keep doing films that are like a boy’s club and I’m the only girl,” Robbie said of making Wolf of Wall Street and Focus back to back.“It was fun rolling with these guys. It’s like I inherited a bunch of older brothers. They all took me under their wing and were really wonderful.”
Focus shot, among other places, in Buenos Aires, Argentina and to say the city came alive for the production is an understatement. “There is such vibrancy about that city. It was such an infectious energy. I hope it seeped into the scenes a little bit because we were definitely feeling it,” she reported. “They were exceptionally excited to see Will. The first day of shooting was a little tricky. There was like a wall of people!”
Robbie admitted that she found a kindred spirit to her con woman character and what she does for a living. “I think it really does go hand-in-hand with acting. There’s a lot of that emotional manipulation, and that’s precisely what we do to try to evoke an emotion out of the audience members and make them emotionally invest in something,” Robbie said. “That just raises the stakes and people care so much more.”
It is a really good thing that Robbie and Smith have fantastic chemistry in Focus. They will reunite in Suicide Squad. Robbie said when she first met Smith, she was a little… well, let’s let her tell the story!
“I’d been swimming in Croatia, right before getting the call to come meet Will. It was six in the morning. ‘You need to be doing an audition with Will Smith tomorrow in New York, so your flight’s booked for tonight.’ I was like, ‘Tonight?! Oh, my God!’ I asked the lady at the hostel I was staying at, ‘How do I get off this island? I need to go to the mainland.’ She was like, ‘There’s only one boat a day and it leaves in 20 minutes,’” she recalled.
“I grabbed all my stuff and left half of it in the hostel. I raced and got a catamaran and then got a bus and got another bus, and got to the airport. I waited eight hours, and then I went to France. And then, I went to New York. By the time I got to New York, I’d not slept for well over two days. They had lost my luggage and my audition was about seven hours away. So, I walked into the audition in wet sneakers and denim shorts and a pajama shirt, which was the only dry thing I had before they lost my luggage!”
Chemistry is key because even though it is a con movie, there is a romance at its heart from writer-directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. “At the core of it, it was a love story. What they do best is tell love stories. I think it’s pretty amazing that we didn’t lose that with all the heists and things that were happening around it. That was the most important part of the story.”