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Margot Robbie: 'Birds of Prey' holds Hollywood accountable for 'embarrassing' lack of female directors (exclusive)

Margot Robbie, the star and producer of new DC movie Birds of Prey says the new Harley Quinn standalone movie is setting an example for how to approach equality in filmmaking.

Speaking to Yahoo, Robbie said that the lack of diversity behind the camera in the film industry is “embarrassing” and that Hollywood needs to take Birds of Prey’s lead in making a concerted effort to put women in those roles. 

“First and foremost, the best person gets the job, Cathy [Yan] was the best person for the job,” said Robbie on the film’s director, “but I think it’s important to make more of an effort to seek out the females for those roles, because the statistics are embarrassing and disgraceful, and not where they should be. And if we don’t actually take action, it’s never going to change.” 

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On whether she is noticing the needle move on the gender imbalance behind the camera in Hollywood, Robbie said, “Now people are starting to kind of be held accountable because other people are actually doing it. Like Warner Bros, for example, actually making this film, kind of holds other studios accountable.” 

“That’s what’s really going to enact change, is holding people accountable,” Robbie added. 

MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN),” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

They also explained how framing Harley Quinn in the new spinoff from a female filmmaker’s point of view has changed how the character is depicted, compared to how we saw her on screen last, in 2016’s Suicide Squad, where Robbie made her debut as the Batman adversary.

Suicide Squad was written and directed by David Ayer, while Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, by contrast was directed by Cathy Yan, written by Cristina Hodson and produced by Robbie. 

(L-r) MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD as Huntress, MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn, ROSIE PEREZ as Renee Montoya, ELLA JAY BASCO as Cassandra Cain and JURNEE SMOLLETT-BELL as Black Canary in Warner Bros. Pictures’ BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN), a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Referring to Harley’s 1992 introduction in Batman: The Animated Series, Robbie said “She was created, literally, as the Joker’s girlfriend, her purpose was to come in as a sidekick and be his sidepiece.

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“And her purpose in this film is to step out from his shadow and be her own woman. That’s poignant for a number of reasons but it’s also a great thing for her character is to start being known as Harley Quinn and surpass that title of ‘The Girlfriend’.” 

Director Cathy Yan explained how the character this time around differs: “I think [she’s different now] in very subtle ways, hopefully, and in ways that I’m not even consciously aware of.” 

'Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn' lands in cinemas on 7 February 2020.

“I think it’s just about really respecting her as a character, and not superficially, and that’s what the whole movie’s about: it’s about really figuring out who she is, as she’s trying to figure out who she is, outside of being the girlfriend of Joker,” said Yan.

“And so part of that, too, is seeing all these different new sides of her, and having her be a well-rounded, real, 360 kind of character.” 

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn lands in cinemas on 7 February. Watch a trailer below.