Why Margot Robbie is a Great Choice for Harley Quinn

With Tuesday’s official confirmation of the actor’s for the roles for the new Suicide Squad movie, fans finally got some news relating to a project that many of them thought that they would never see.  The cast is pretty varied, between A-listers Will Smith and Jared Leto to Cara Delevinge, who has less than 5 movie credits to her name at the moment.  In between these two extremes is Margot Robbie, who first got noticed on the short-lived Pan-Am television series, but who rose to fame with last year’s Wolf of Wall Street.

harley02In terms of playing movie superheroes, not much is often needed other than to have the charisma to play an over-the-top comic character.  What is usually needed is a strict physical regimen in order to look the part and to take part in the mayhem, and so as long as anyone has any acting ability, no matter how inexperienced they might be with actual movies, landing the part of superhero or supervillain usually comes down to dedication to the role.  The character of Harley Quinn though might have a minor exception associated to her in this regard though, that there is something absolutely necessary in an acting sense to get right, and that is the character’s accent.

Since the character’s introduction in the 1990s, there has actually been little explanation behind much of her character development, other than having fallen in love with the Joker while his prison psychiatrist.  This led her to break him out and led her into a career of crime, but since then the character has morphed somewhat, often acting as a DC Comics version of Deadpool, though definitely more villainous, who interacts with the readers in ways that other characters do not.  Sassiness is a trait associated with the character that goes well beyond that of most female characters that have that as dominant personality trait.  In all of her “live” appearances, either as an animated character or a video game character, there has been one common aspect of this sassiness, and that has been the character’s Brooklyn accent, sometimes a lot weaker, and sometimes very pronounced.

harley01In her preparation for Wolf of Wall Street, where she played Naomi Lapaglia, a Brooklyn native, Margot Robbie was forced to learn a Brooklyn accent, a difficult enough challenge for an Australian.  As she told Jimmy Kimmel in an interview about the movie:  “I sat down with my acting coach, to go through the scene before my audition, and she said ‘You know that you’re meant to be doing a Brooklyn accent’, and I said ‘What does a Brooklyn accent sound like?’ and she was like ‘Pretend that you’ve got acrylic nails on, and they’ve just been painted so they’re still wet.’  And I was like ‘Cool so how do I do the accent?’ and she was like ‘Just do it.’  And I was like “OK.”  So I put my hands out like that, and started doing the scene, and I was like “Well … uh …’ and all of a sudden, [in thick Brooklyn accent] I’m getting my hair out of my like this, and I was y’know, talking to her, and I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to her, and this attitude came out of nowhere.”

For her role, she received numerous year-end acting nominations, which meant that most critics that her accent was believable and authentic enough, and it is the same accent which is a necessity for Harley Quinn in the film, a character with a dedicated following that the movie will need to get right versus the others.  After all, Tom Hardy can mess up as Rick Flag, or Jai Courtney could mess up as Boomerang, but if the movie doesn’t get every aspect of Harley Quinn right then at least in some respects the movie will be considered a failure, and DC Comics will have failed to get a specific part of its fan base engaged in a way that it hoped to.