Q&A with Margot Robbie

We had a chat to Jane herself!
What were your thoughts when you were approached about playing Jane in this film?  
My immediate reaction was that I had no interest in playing a damsel in distress.  But my team said, ‘No, read it.  It’s a different take.’  So, I read the script and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this will be amazing!’  I loved the story and its sense of adventure.  It felt epic, like a mix of all the films that I adore.  And, despite the fact that she’s being held captive for a movie, she is very defiant and independent – almost to a fault sometimes.  I think that’s one of the qualities I loved most about the role.

Can you talk about the bond that Jane shares with John Clayton / Tarzan, played by Alexander Skarsgård?
One of the first things [director] David Yates and I spoke about was that this is an epic love story.  These two characters are so clearly madly in love with each other that when they’re separated, you’re rooting for them to get back together.  Fortunately, I got to play that relationship with someone like Alexander Skarsgård, who is the most lovable guy in the world.

Can you talk about developing that relationship with Alexander and the qualities he brings to this iconic character?
 Alexander is a really good actor and just the nicest guy, so it was brilliant to work with him.  We immediately had a very easy rapport.  What I felt was most interesting about Alexander playing Tarzan was that, to me, he doesn’t feel like an alpha male.  He’s so giving as an actor; he wasn’t overbearing or focused on himself.  So that made for a perfect environment to create this very real relationship between our characters.  

This is a genuine love story.  It’s not something we were trying to inject; it’s already on the page.  The director wanted to focus on it, and we wanted to focus on it, so it was given the amount of attention it needed to have.  And it really just happened organically.  

When the story begins, John and Jane are married and their life in England is very different from what they knew in the Congo.  Can you talk about what it means to them to travel back to Africa?
Living in Victorian England is extremely foreign for Jane.  She’s not happy there.  She grew up in the Congo and that’s the kind of life she conforms to – not 19th-century London.  She wants to go home so badly that when the opportunity arises and John’s immediate reaction is to keep her in London, she completely flips out.  But she wins that battle, and is just beaming with happiness when they finally come home.  

And then, of course, everything changes.  She’s quickly ripped away from John, but she’s in her home setting, which allows her to be composed in the face of the danger.  She is a very capable woman.  

This film has an amazing cast.  What was it like for you to work with actors like Samuel L. Jackson (George Washington Williams), Christoph Waltz (Leon Rom) and Djimon Hounsou (Chief Mbonga)?
It was just brilliant.  For me, the chance to work with this cast was one of the most exciting things about this project. 

Oddly enough, I probably spent more time with Christoph than anyone else because Jane is Rom’s captive for much of the film, and he was the perfect acting partner for those sorts of scenes. Christoph made that character so complex and interesting and peculiar.  He’s the loveliest guy as well, so it was just a delight to be around him.  Rom is a threat, but Jane is very, very defiant. What’s interesting is that she has a curiosity about him, rather than blatant fear, and I loved playing that with him.  She knows what Tarzan is going to do, and can only warn him:  ‘He’s coming.’  

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have like with Sam’s character.  We play the two Americans in the film, so in the scenes we did have together, we just got into that banter so quickly. He was so good in that role.  He really brings a lot to the character and it was nice to have that fun rapport with him.

I also didn’t have any scenes with Djimon, but he’s just a phenomenal actor and so strong in this role that when I saw the film, I was just bawling watching his performance.  I thought, ‘My God, he’s on screen for just a short amount of time and he’s already got me in tears.’
What would you say was your biggest challenge making this film?
Speaking Lingala was the most difficult thing by far.  There’s a scene where I have an entire conversation in Lingala, and there was this one line that could not get down.  So we were in hysterics the whole time.  I just couldn’t do this Lingala line, and everyone was cracking up.  It was hilarious.  

Can you talk about what it was like to work with director David Yates and to be immersed in these incredible environments?  
The most exceptional thing about this job for me were the sets.  The fact that they made Leavesden look so convincingly like the Congo was insane.  They built towns; ; they built jungles that were big enough to run through, with waterfalls and rain machines that put you in the middle of a monsoon.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I was like a kid in a candy shop.  

And if you’re going to trust that sort of environment with anyone, it’s David Yates.  He did it in the Potter films, and he did it here.  There was just this magical feel to the world he created, but it’s still so raw and real and engaging in the moment.  I can’t think of a director who could have achieved that the way he did.

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