February 25, 2015 / 7:54 PM / 4 years ago

A Minute With: Margot Robbie on feisty females and 'Focus'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After making her film breakout as the no-holds-barred wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort in 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Margot Robbie is taking on Will Smith for a tango of twists and turns in the underground world of heists.

Cast member Margot Robbie poses at the premiere of "Focus" at the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

In “Focus,” out in U.S. theaters on Friday, Australian actress Robbie, 24, plays Jess, a street-smart, spirited pick-pocket who teams up with veteran con-artist Nicky (Smith) to learn his trade.

Robbie talked to Reuters about the need for strong women in film and working with Smith.

Q: You’ve played feisty, strong women in both “Wolf of Wall Street” and in “Focus,” what draws you to those characters?

A: Strong female characters for sure but they don’t necessarily have to be like the conventionally strong.

As long as they’re strong in their own aspect and have strong opinions, then I find them interesting, people who can shift opinions and stuff, (otherwise) it’s less fun to play and create a character with. So it doesn’t have to be the same every time but something a little different.

It’s always good to have a story arch. For example, Jess in this film is a certain person at the beginning of the film and a totally different kind of person by the end of the film and that’s exciting as an actor because there’s a lot for you to do there.

Q: How urgent is the need for strong female characters portrayed in Hollywood movies?

A: I think people have really taken notice of that and are making an effort to change that. So, I think there’s actually a lot of great female roles happening and coming out at the moment and I definitely want to be at the forefront of continuing that motion.

Q: You worked opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “Wolf Of Wall Street,” and now you’re holding your own opposite Will Smith. How was that experience?

A: Will is the best. He’s a really cool guy. He’s very energetic and charismatic and he is really talented. It’s just nice to work with someone that you can learn from.

Q: You were a presenter at Sunday’s Oscars, where Patricia Arquette made a passionate acceptance speech urging for equal pay for women. What was your reaction?

A: I second that motion for sure. Equality not just in the acting industry, for every industry you want that. I’m glad she voiced that, that’s cool.

Reporting by Alicia Avila for Reuters TV; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Marguerita Choy

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