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Margot Robbie’s Big Break Was No Walk in the Park Behind the Scenes

The Big Picture

  • Margot Robbie’s improvisation during her audition for The Wolf of Wall Street, where she slapped Leonardo DiCaprio, secured her the role.
  • Robbie’s experience filming The Wolf of Wall Street was intimidating, as a newcomer working with renowned filmmakers, but she embraced the challenges.
  • Robbie co-founded LuckyChap Entertainment to promote and support female-driven films and television shows, showcasing her commitment to empowering women in the industry.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Wolf of Wall Street. Widely remembered for its graphic content, Leonardo DiCaprio‘s larger-than-life performance, and Martin Scorsese‘s bold direction, the film nabbed five Oscar nominations and quickly became its director’s highest-grossing film to date. A wild cinematic ride by any standard, The Wolf of Wall Street is also remembered for introducing the world to Margot Robbie, who of course would later go on to star in the $1 billion-plus grossing Barbie.

A decade after her big break, the Australian native has become a household name. Having segued into producing, receiving two Oscar nominations, and consistently working alongside A-list filmmakers, Robbie is undoubtedly one of the most prolific, acclaimed, and in-demand actors of her generation. While there are no signs of that stopping anytime soon, the experience of making The Wolf of Wall Street proved a challenge for the actress, and she’s never been shy about expressing the difficulties of navigating fame and success in subsequent years.

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How Did Margot Robbie Get Cast in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’?


By 2012, Margot Robbie had just a handful of acting credits to her name. Having appeared in a few films and television shows, including a three-year run on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. She was certainly rising through the entertainment ranks but hadn’t yet broken through to the mainstream. Upon learning that casting was underway for the next collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, Robbie landed an audition for Naomi, the wife of DiCaprio’s corrupt broker Jordan Belfort.

Battling nerves as she played out a scene with DiCaprio in front of Scorsese, the actress employed a bold bit of improvisation. Rather than simply argue with her future co-star, as was called for in the script, Robbie went one step further and unexpectedly slapped DiCaprio across the face. She later said of the decision, “I hit him in the face. And then I scream, ‘Fuck you!’ And that’s not in the script at all. The room just went dead silent and I froze.” Though she later confessed she thought the ad-lib had cost her the role, she was rewarded for her decision. Scorsese remembers, “She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting — by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face, an improvisation that stunned us all.”

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Made Margot Robbie a Household Name

Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf of Wall Street
Image via Paramount Pictures

With a budget of $100 million, cameras rolled on The Wolf of Wall Street in August 2012. Aged 22 and with only three film credits to her name, one can assume Margot Robbie’s experience of working alongside cinematic powerhouses like Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese must’ve come with a certain amount of intimidation. The actress has been on record about feelings of trepidation and self-doubt during production, wondering if she’d be sidelined as a relative newcomer to the big screen. In 2017, she revealed to Wonderland Magazine, “When I was playing Naomi in The Wolf of Wolf Street, it was so high-tempo sexy. I was acutely aware that the line in the screenplay was ‘the hottest blonde ever.’ I was just terrified that people would see the movie and think, ‘Eugh! She’s not that great.’”

One particularly revealing scene had the future star on edge. It’s not every day that a performer is asked to so vulnerably bare herself on a Hollywood film set, much less alongside one of the world’s biggest stars and most renowned filmmakers. Robbie apparently refused Scorsese’s offer to “dilute” the nudity of the scene for her comfort, and she appears fully nude in the film. Regarding Naomi’s nature, Robbie told The Telegraph, “Her body is her only form of currency in this world. So when Marty was trying to help me out, and said in the scene where she seduces Jordan perhaps I could have a robe on, I said she wouldn’t. She has to be naked.” To help settle her understandable nerves over performing such a scene, she revealed, “I had a couple of shots of tequila before that scene because I was nervous – very, very nervous.”

Hitting theaters on Christmas Day 2013, The Wolf of Wall Street was met with a largely positive reception and box office success. Amid the film’s success, Margot Robbie found herself swept into the whirlwind of international fame and acclaim. But as is all too common when suddenly thrust into the global spotlight, the newfound celebrity had a negative effect on the actress, even pushing her to the point of reconsidering her career aspirations. Leading up to the release of last year’s Babylon, Robbie told Vanity Fair, “Something was happening in those early stages, and it was all pretty awful, and I remember saying to my mom, ‘I don’t think I want to do this.’ And she just looked at me, completely straight-faced, and was like, ‘Darling, I think it’s too late not to.’”

Margot Robbie Helps Promote Female Storytellers

Margot Robbie as Barbie in Barbie
Image via Warner Bros.

But despite the inherent difficulties of navigating white-hot fame and acclaim, Margot Robbie has more than found her footing in the industry. In 2014, she co-founded LuckyChap Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production company with a focus on supporting female-driven film and television. Robbie has said of the intention behind the company, “We wanted to expand what female stories and female storytellers could do in this industry, and I don’t need to be on screen for that to happen.”

Along with partners Tom Ackerley, Josey McNamara, and Sophia Kerr, LuckyChap has been involved in the production of seven films including Robbie’s I, Tonya, Birds of Prey, and the Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman. The company has also dipped its toes into television by producing Dollface, Maid, and Mike. Next on LuckChap’s big screen slate, hitting theaters on July 21 is Barbie starring Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Having firmly established herself as an undeniable force to be reckoned with, Margot Robbie seems to be just getting started. As one of the premier performers and creative personalities of her generation, one can only wonder with great anticipation what lies ahead for the 32-year-old actress and producer.

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