The entertainment industry is not exactly kind to “aging” women. Taylor Swift, who turns 33 in December, has talked about being a “geriatric pop star” and said she expected to be “put out to pasture” after she turned 25 (the year 1989 came out). The roles for women actors go from “sexy love interest” to “mom” real fast—Nicole Kidman, 55, went from playing the wife of Alexander Skarsgard, 46, to his mother in the span of three years. So it seems a little cruel—or at the very least, really fucking weird—that BAFTA hosted a retrospective for Margot Robbie’s career on Tuesday night. She is 32 years old.
It’s important to note here that there has been some speculation over Robbie’s age—by this very own website, in fact: In 2016, Jezebel questioned that she was 25 (the argument made sense, for what it’s worth), then HuffPost debunked it (that argument also made sense), and then we all moved on. For the sake of this column, we are going with Robbie’s story that she was born in 1990 and is 32 years old now. However, even if she were actually in her late 30s, it would still be insane to host a retrospective for her career, when her first major movie credit was in 2013! (I’m talking about Richard Curtis’s gut punch of a romcom, About Time, but others may choose to focus on Martin Scorcese’s Leo DiCaprio vehicle, Wolf of Wall Street.)
Anyway. Tuesday night, Robbie “reflected on her varied, award-winning filmography” in a “career retrospective” discussion titled “A Life in Pictures: Margot Robbie.” A “life in pictures” are words that should flash across the screen before Cicely Tyson or Jackie Chan’s Lifetime Achievement Award montage at the Oscars—it is not the phrase you use to describe the career of a woman in her thirties, no matter how many awards she’s been nominated for! BAFTA described the discussion as part of “a long-running series of in-depth interviews in which some of the world’s leading film and television talent share unique career insights” and noted that she is the youngest person to ever participate in one of these interviews (I sure hope so!). To be clear, I think Robbie is aces, and her filmography as an actor and producer is genuinely impressive. It is just that she is young. Gimme a retrospective once she hits 45 and has 20+ years of Hollywood under her belt—or at least once we’ve seen her performance in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie. Previous BAFTA “Life in Pictures” participants feel a bit more appropriate for a “retrospective”: Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Quentin Tarantino.
Among the “unique career insights” Robbie shared during the interview was that working with the “if you don’t like the N-word, don’t watch my movies” director was a “bucket list thing” that she only achieved after she watched I, Tonya (in which she played Tonya Harding and was nominated for an Oscar); realized she was a “good enough” actor; and reached out to Tarantino, who then cast her in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood as Sharon Tate.
Robbie also shared a wild tidbit with the BAFTA audience: She didn’t know the “definition” of sexual harassment until she signed on to Bombshell, the 2019 movie about the women who exposed former Fox News chief Roger Ailes’s rampant sexual harassment. Robbie noted that, by that time, she was “an established position in the industry, financially set up and self-sufficient,” but she didn’t really know what sexual harassment was. She admitted that the revelation is “shocking,” but I’d honestly just call it confusing? The New York Times published its reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of sexual abuse and assault in October 2017, kicking off a very intense conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace. Meanwhile, Robbie said she only learned while filming Bombshell that sexual harassment “flourishes in the grey area.” I mean, that is certainly true…but it’s puzzling that a woman at the time—especially an actor who is famously beautiful—was hazy on the specifics of this deeply entrenched issue.
Robbie did not appear to talk about her own experiences, so I’m only speculating here, but what this suggests to me is that her own Hollywood ride has been without harassment—or at least not enough that it was on her radar. And in a deeply depressing way, that’s a beautiful thing; perhaps worthy of a retrospective after all.
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