The delightful subtitle for the upcoming Birds of Prey promises a fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn, played indomitably by Margot Robbie. And yet, in the latest image released by Fandango, she seems, well, a little tied up. Will she be able to emancipate herself from the precarious situation, getting stared down by the villainous Ewan McGregor and Chris Messina? And how did Robbie research her role this time around?
In an interview with Variety, Robbie got into her nitty-gritty process for the charismatic antihero, and how it all began with a knee-jerk reaction to her first performance as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. Robbie admitted that she “fell in love with” Quinn immediately, but could not understand why she would stay in a relationship with the literally abusive Joker (played in that film by Jared Leto) who “wants to kill her most of the time.” So, she dove headfirst into the world of DC Comics, reading and consuming as much Harley Quinn content as she could (alongside diverse places of inspiration like Sam Shepard plays and TED Talks from professional women with schizophrenia). And she came up understanding the character more, saying that “Harley has this unpredictable nature that means she could react in any way to any situation, which as an actor is just a gift.” However, Robbie also knew what she wanted to do with the character next.
Birds of Prey comes in part from Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment production company, as a desire to give Quinn more agency in a story — and to give women prominent roles behind and in front of the camera in a risky, big-budget, R-rated superhero tentpole film. The film’s screenwriter Christina Hodson met with Robbie regularly for long creative sessions where they would read comics and watch disparate movies like Trainspotting for inspiration. One of their sessions even lasted 13 hours, with Robbie offering an unprecedented amount of creative input. “[Robbie] really wanted to see Harley with girlfriends, Harley in a girl gang,” said Hodson. “Harley is such a naturally sociable character. And I think there was just a general longing to see girls together on screen — women being friends.” Robbie also spoke on Joker, 2019’s big, gritty R-rated superhero hit, speaking highly of Joaquin Phoenix‘s work, but saying that Birds of Prey “is different. It’s heightened… At the end of the day, it’s a really fun, badass group of women getting together. It’s a ride. It’s a crazy ride.”
Check out the new image from Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) below. The film comes to theatres February 7. For more on the film, check out our interview with Robbie, its director Cathy Yan, and its costume designer.