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Margot Robbie reveals why she had to quit Neighbours: "I was willing to risk it"

The actress explains why she left Australia for Hollywood at the height of her Neighbours fame

By TV Week team
Whether blue-collar gritty in I, Tonya as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, or alluringly maniacal as baseball-bat wielding Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Aussie star Margot Robbie commands attention on the big screen.
Now appearing in stark white make-up, a crown of red hair and regal robes, Margot has transformed herself once more and is ruling cinemas as Queen Elizabeth I in historical drama Mary Queen Of Scots.
The film centres on the power dynamics between her and Catholic cousin Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), the Scottish Queen who decides to make a play for the English throne in the mid-1500s.
"I was terrified about playing a character who has been played by some of the greatest actresses in history, including Cate Blanchett, who is my absolute acting idol," Margot, 28, says.
"I was also worried about playing a queen and thought it would probably be better if they hired an actress who came from a theatre school background and had done a lot of Shakespeare. But in the end, I decided it was the kind of challenge I should take on."
Margot as Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen Of Scots.
"That image she created for herself," Margot says of Queen Elizabeth I, "and the sense of being trapped in the prosthetics, which also affected my facial expressions, helped me understand why she behaved the way she did and why she closed herself off to the world of Mary."
By contrast, Margot opened herself up to new experiences early. She was raised on a farm in Dalby in Queensland, 200km north-west of Brisbane.
"My siblings and I went boar hunting and surfing, and I grew up learning more about agriculture and animal husbandry than you could imagine," she says. "It wasn't the kind of upbringing you could ever have expected would lead anyone into acting."
Yet Margot was determined and studied drama in school. After graduating from Somerset College in Mudgeeraba on Queensland's Gold Coast, she moved to Melbourne at the age of 17 to begin her acting career and landed the role of quirky teen Donna Freedman in Neighbours.
Margot attends the Mary Queen Of Scots premiere.
In her three years on the iconic drama, Margot received two Logie Award nods and an enduring popularity as Donna, who shared an impulsive kiss with Sunny Lee (Hany Lee) before carrying a torch for on-and-off boyfriend Ringo Brown (Sam Clark).
The pair finally wed in spectacular fashion in October 2010. Then, not long afterwards, Ringo was struck by a motorcycle and died.
The story arc gave Margot just the right opportunity to leave Neighbours.
"I basically had only three options back then," she explains. "Either I would have waited until the producers at some point got rid of my character from the series, or I would have played the role forever and led a comfortable life in Australia.
"And the third option was to quit and see if I could make it in America, which offered me more chances than Australia. Of course I could have failed, but I was willing to risk it."
Ringo and Donna wed in Neighbours in 2010.
In 2011, Margot moved to LA for pilot season and was cast as flight attendant Laura Cameron in US ABC Network's shortlived '60s set drama Pan Am.
But she hit the big-time when she steamed up screens opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's 2013 crime caper The Wolf Of Wall Street.
"What's funny is that when I started acting, my family thought it was a hobby," Margot says. "It took them a few years to realise being an actress is a profession.
"It was only when they came to visit me in New York, and I showed them the giant poster of The Wolf Of Wall Street in Times Square, that they were convinced I was never going to go to university!"
To that end, Margot encourages others, especially women, to take risks.
"I'm the kind of person who, if you tell me that something is impossible, will do everything in my power to prove you wrong and make it happen," she says.
"Even when the idea of a girl from the Gold Coast going to make it in Hollywood seemed like a wild dream, that made me want to succeed a thousand times more."
To read more from our interview with Margot Robbie, grab a copy of the new issue of TV WEEK. On sale now.
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