The cover star of Oyster #108: The Origins Issue is Margot Robbie, an actor who needs little introduction for anyone who grew up on a nightly dose of Neighbours or caught a little film called The Wolf of Wall Street.
Writer Sarah Nicole Prickett sat down with Margot in LA to play a game of M.A.T.C.H. during which details about Margot’s mum, tea preference and versatile laugh emerged. Read the full story below.
The game of M.A.T.C.H. is simple. It’s an acronym for the various structures you might one day, depending on your fortune, call home: Mansion, Attic, Toilet, Church, House. You write the five letters at the top of a piece of paper. Below you write the names of five places, usually cities or countries, in which you might live; five people you might marry; five makes of cars you might drive. You play the game with a partner, who takes a pen or pencil and makes marks on the paper until you, with your eyes closed, say stop. If the number of marks you happen to stop at is six, your partner crosses out every sixth option, going around and around the page until there is one option, no longer a choice, in each category.
Margot Robbie gets the number three because she’s impatient, or eager, or both. She is one of the most-wanted actresses in Hollywood. She is 25 years old; 26 in July. Her next movie, The Legend of Tarzan, comes out the day before her birthday; she plays Jane to Alexander Skarsgård’s Tarzan. The one after that is Suicide Squad, scheduled for release early August; she plays Harley Quinn. These two movies have a combined budget of $500 million.
On a page torn from my notebook, we start the game.
Around us is the pianissimo sound of breakfast music. The sun has been up for four hours casting a lemon-cream glow over the long, trellised roof of the Cavatina, a restaurant at the Sunset Marquis that before noon is languid, sparsely populated. Robbie’s hair is drying from the pool. Two things put her in a good mood, no matter what she has to do that day. The first is a proper swim. A Gold Coast native who surfs and dives, she hates not being near a body of water. The second is a cup of tea, like the one getting cold on the table. Upstairs in her suitcase she has five hundred bags of Dilmah, a brand of Ceylon tea she says she can only get in Australia. She was back with her mum a few weeks ago; she goes back as often as she can, but it’s never for long enough, and sometimes it will be half or two-thirds of a year before she can catch a flight south.
Robbie has been living in L.A. for two weeks in a one-bedroom suite, which is to say, a cross between a mansion (luxurious) and an attic (sequestered, or cramped). Her life right now is less lush than it sounds, she swears. For one thing, she shares a bed with her best friend and assistant, Sophia Kerr. Soph, as Robbie calls her, was her best friend before she was her assistant, which is definitely the order in which to do it, since celebrities whose assistants become their best friends strike everyone as maniacs or dopes. Margot is two things, I can say with certainty: she’s busy, and she’s grateful to be busy. After another two weeks of photoshoots and interviews and meetings, she will go home later than planned to London, where she shares a three-bedroom house with Soph, Josey, and Tom, her boyfriend since the middle of 2014. The four friends share not only living space but also a small production company, LuckyChap Entertainment.
“Like family” is the way Robbie describes her friends, or an ensemble cast, or a domestic arrangement. She grew up on the Gold Coast in Queensland with her “amazing woman” of a mother, Sarie, who works with disabled kids as a physiotherapist; her two younger brothers, Cameron and Lachlan; and her older sister, Anya. “We were a big family in a small house, which is very different from having a big family in a big house,” she notes. Until the age of 16 she shared a room with Cameron that she painted herself: green walls, a pink ceiling, a yellow door. She says she’s indecisive with small things — it takes her a few minutes, when the waiter comes, to decide on chicken-apple sausages and a brown-rice bowl — but quick to know when big things are the right ones. At 17 she landed a part on Neighbours playing Donna Freedman, an obsessive bisexual groupie who matured into a lovable but still-intense university student and fashion designer. After three years at the soap Margot moved to Hollywood. One of the most striking things about her, according to people who know her and are interviewed about her, is how much she hasn’t changed.
Weeks go by in which she spends “zero time” alone. If she does find herself in a “deathly quiet hotel room” she can’t sleep; she needs “doors banging and washing machines and people yelling and all that” in the background. “I always wish I could be alone,” says Robbie, “and then as soon as I’m actually alone for like, more than 15 minutes, I’m in a group text like, ‘What’s everyone doing?'”
This isn’t surprising for an actress, but it’s slightly horrifying to think about as a writer — one who, I tell her, sometimes stays indoors for over 72 hours. Her eyes are wide. They’re always wide, but now they’re wider. She’s resizing me, trying to get inside my head, as if I’m now the character in the story and she has to play me. She gives a gentle twitch of the head. “I’d go insane,” she says.
Her five options for places to live, in the game of M.A.T.C.H., are: Australia “of course”. London too. Then “we need somewhere random”, so Ukraine; “somewhere fun, like the jungle”, so the Congo; “somewhere really cold”, so Antarctica. There is an unspoken rule that one of the options in the game must be unappealing, one random but desirable, one or two realistic, and one or two entirely fantastical.