When Birds of Prey opens this weekend, it will mark the second of three scheduled times that Margot Robbie will step into the maniacal roller skates of Harley Quinn, the Joker’s lunatic soul mate who can be plenty dangerous on her own. What’s weird about Robbie’s three turns as Harley is that she is doing them under the umbrella of the DC universe, but in three movies that are not traditionally connected, and don’t work as sequels in a conventional franchise.
That’s because Warner Bros. and DC aren’t as concerned with world building as, say, Marvel Studios, so they allow different filmmakers to put their stamps on different storylines. Margot Robbie originated the character for David Ayer in Suicide Squad. She plays her for Cathy Yan in the upcoming Birds of Prey. And she’s currently filming The Suicide Squad for James Gunn. When we brought that up to Robbie at the Birds of Prey junket, she candidly spoke about how “weird” the situation is, so watch our conversation now.
What’s interesting, as Margot Robbie points out, is that there are numerous aspects of Harley Quinn, as a character, that can be explored by a film, and everyone from David Ayer to Cathy Yan to James Gunn are choosing to lean into elements that assist the type of story they want to tell. Says Robbie:
It really is a similar format to the comic books, whereby with each author, you are getting a different looking aesthetic, and a slightly different feel, but really the spirit and essence of the character is always the same. And I’d say that’s the case for the films.
This is so true. You might be a fan of a particular comic book character, but you get excited when a new writer or illustrator takes a crack at telling a story in their world. It can inspire you to learn new things about the hero (or villain), and the people around them.
In Birds of Prey, Cathy Yan approaches Harley Quinn after a devastating break up, and Margot Robbie gets to explore a vulnerable side of Quinn without Mr. J. What I loved about what Robbie told us at the press junket, though, is that after playing her three different times, the actress really does enjoy pure ownership over the role, an is able to weigh in on how she is used (or isn’t used) for the benefit of opposing stories.
It’s similar to Batman, who has been integral to movies directed by Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and, soon, Matt Reeves. It’s the same character, seen through wildly different lenses. Only, in the case of Harley Quinn, we see the same actress maintaining her grip on the role, because she’s perfectly cast.
Birds of Prey opens in theaters on February 7. Check back all week, as we’ll continue to post more stories from our interviews with Cathy Yan and her cast.