You can’t just walk into Hollywood and become a star. Well, that’s not strictly true: you can, just so long as you know the right path to take. And obviously, you have to be at least somewhat talented and ridiculously good-looking. If you’re not, what are you doing in Hollywood? Go make a name for yourself in indy films or on the stage and eventually Hollywood will come to you. But if you are jaw-droppingly attractive and at least moderately talented, then fame and fortune can be yours… just so long as you play by the rules. What rules are those? Let Australia’s-own turned Hollywood-It-Girl Margot Robbie be your guide…
Step 1: Be on an Aussie soap
You might think that it’s beneath you, or that you’d just be wasting your time, or that all you’re going to learn on a soap is bad acting habits. Was it beneath Guy Pearce? Russell Crowe? Naomi Watts? Yeah, you say, but that was decades ago when the path to Hollywood wasn’t so clearly marked and there was still a chance of making a film career in Australia – you don’t have time to mess around on local TV now. Okay, a). Chris Helmsworth was on Home & Away, and b). Being on a soap makes it roughly a billion times easier for journalists to write flattering profiles about you because that’s automatically the start to every single profile written about you, eg: “From humble beginnings on an Australian soap opera…”
Step 2: Don’t bother with Australian films
Robbie went directly from Neighbours to Hollywood, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same. Look at Mia Wasikowska; sure, she did a bit of local work on All Saints and the killer croc movie Rogue, but it wasn’t until she hit Hollywood – specifically, Alice in Wonderland – that her career really took off. And now she’s back here making outback camel crossing movie Tracks. The moral is clear: get famous first, then you can make all the little-seen Australian films you like.
Step 3: American television is not a bad thing
After leaving Neighbours for Hollywood, Robbie tried out for the Charlie’s Angels reboot then scored a gig in Pam Am, the ’60s-era flight attendant series that managed to ride the coat-tails of Mad Men for exactly one season before getting axed (at least it wasn’t that series about the 60s Playboy Club, which didn’t even last that long). These days in America television gets you noticed and – if you’re young and it’s the right kind of television – it adds to your status. In Pan Am Robbie starred across from Christina Ricci; on television you’re either going up or going down.
Step 4: Spread yourself around
It’s important to avoid being pigeon-holed when starting out, even though every single big time actress under 40 ends up doing roughly the same mix of serious drama and young adult franchise if she wants to stay a star. Robbie’s next big break was being cast in Richard Curtis’ time travel rom-com About Time, and while it’s been a long time since a rom-com made a female actor a star – it seems maybe Katherine Heigl broke that particular path to stardom – it doesn’t hurt to show your range.
Step 5: Show them you’re a serious actor
Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout role was in Winter’s Bone, and while it was a brilliant film it was nobody’s idea of a fun romp. Likewise, Robbie’s current big break in The Wolf of Wall Street is a relatively serious role compared to just about everyone else in the film. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill get to flop around like drug-addled seals for half an hour; Robbie mostly gets yelled at and slapped around.
Step 6: But not too serious
Lawrence hasn’t really done a flat-out comedy yet, but a lot of her roles – Silver Lining Playbook and American Hustle especially – have had a tinge of comedy about them. Okay, more than a tinge in Hustle’s case (“science oven”). More importantly, Lawrence has been happy to be a total goofball in her public appearances, and everyone loves her for it. Robbie hasn’t quite gotten there yet, but The Wolf of Wall Street is pretty much a comedy so in between the shouting and the slapping she does get to show off her lighter side. A little.
Step 7: Keep the spotlight on you
Lawrence’s off-set goofiness has been a massive boost to her career – everybody loves an attractive woman who’s funny since the days when Marilyn Monroe did all her best work in comedies – especially as it’s a bit of a contrast to the super-serious character she plays in the Hunger Games films. But if you can’t manage to pull off all the face-pulling and photo-bombing, there are always more straightforward ways to add another layer to the story of you. For example, the “scandal” about a supposed affair between Robbie and Will Smith, her co-star in the upcoming conman rom-com Focus, broke just as the The Wolf of Wall Street press was reaching its’ peak. Being an actress in a big deal movie is one thing; being an actress who’s maybe having an affair with the biggest movie star in the world… yeah, that’ll draw a bit of attention.
Step 8: Appeal to the teens
Hollywood may be – slowly, gradually – expanding its horizons to take in stories that involve old folks (which in the case of women, generally means people over thirty), but the big money remains in the young adult market. Lawrence has this sewn up from two angles: she’s the lead in the Hunger Games films, and she’s a supporting character in the current X-Men franchise. Rather than signing up for one of those YA novel series that never quite work out (Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), Robbie has made the arguably smarter choice of grabbing the lead in the adaptation of Z for Zachariah, the story of a young woman alone in the last fertile valley after an atomic war who then has to deal with a male intruder. Only in the film version there’ll be two male intruders, played by Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor. So, you know, she’ll be kind of spoilt for choice there.
Step 9: Find yourself an action movie franchise
Hollywood these days runs on the continuing adventures of action movie characters. As previously mentioned, Lawrence has two currently on the go keeping her busy between classier films, while Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman have both found themselves regular roles in Marvel superhero movies. So it’s very little surprise to hear that Robbie is reportedly in talk to star as Jane alongside Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan in a new take on the jungle hero. It may not be the lead, but it’s hardly likely she’d be playing a helpless type either, and after a century or so of adventures it’s hardly like this series – if it’s a hit – is going to stop at one.
Step 10: Profit
Congratulations! You’re now a big star. Well, you are just so long as not too many of your movies turn out to be duds. And you don’t say anything wrong while there’s a live mic around. You probably shouldn’t have a relationship with a high profile actor either – it’ll be cute while it lasts but his fans will either hate you for being with him or hate you for not being with him. And whatever you do, don’t stop working; there’s at least half a dozen actresses hot on your tail and Hollywood only really has room for a handful of leading ladies at any one time. But aside from that, enjoy!