What Margot Robbie was really like before the fame

She's one of the biggest stars in Hollywood today, but it wasn't that long ago that Aussie A-lister Margot Robbie was a complete unknown in the States. Like many Australian actors, Robbie started out in the TV soaps. She spent three years on the cast of long-running show Neighbours, using that time to perfect her American accent. "You have to do your homework if you want to be successful," she told Harper's Bazaar. "You only get to have your first time once and you've got to hit it out of the park." When she was offered the chance to read opposite Leonardo DiCaprio for a role in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), she hit a home run.

Scorsese put his faith in Robbie, who was more than up for the challenge. The newcomer slipped into the high-heeled shoes of Brooklyn-born beauty Naomi Lapaglia and delivered a fiery performance that turned her into one of the most buzzed about actors in Hollywood. She reinforced the hype when she debuted as beloved DC villainess Harley Quinn in 2016's Suicide Squad, a role she reprised to critical acclaim in 2020's Birds of Prey.

Robbie is now very much part of the furniture in Hollywood, but what kind of person was she before her rise to superstardom? From her wholesome childhood in rural Australia to her pre-fame adventures in Italy, this is what Margot Robbie's life was like before she blew up.

Margot Robbie was a country girl

Margot Robbie was a country girl, growing up in and around the small outback town of Dalby on Australia's Gold Coast, where the majority of her extended family worked the land as farmers. In 2016, the actress told Jetset Magazine that some of her happiest times are "out on the farm hunting wild pigs or riding around on motorbikes." 

"People always want to know, 'Did you have kangaroos outside your bedroom window?'" Robbie told Vanity Fair around that time. "I'm like, 'Yes, but none of my other friends did.' Or 'Did you have snakes running around?' And again, 'Yes, in our house, but this isn't an Australian thing.'"

The movie star had previously discussed Dalby at length during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (via Sunshine Coast Daily), describing the residents of the tightly-knit rural town as "so sweet." They're so sweet, in fact, that Robbie was worried about how they'd react to her steamy breakout performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. "I don't know if Dalby's going to approve of this movie," she said. "I'm going to follow it up with another one that's a little more appeasing to a small country town."

Margot Robbie's friends and family called her 'Maggot'

"Maggot" isn't exactly the most flattering of nicknames, but that's what Margot Robbie's friends and family endearingly called her growing up. That said, the actress didn't necessarily always love it. "At school, I was called 'Maggot,' which was horrible and so traumatic and a reason I despised my name," she admitted to USA Today in 2018. "But now I love [my name because] my mom named me after a girl she grew up with." As for her other nicknames? Robbie added, "Some of my close friends call me Maggie, Margs, Mags, Maggles, any iteration of that."

Through all the fame and fortune, Robbie has maintained a strong bond with her best friends — all 16 of them. "We're all so tight-knit," she said of her group of mates. "They are still my best friends today. We've known each other since preschool and we're still the best of friends, so that's an incredibly special thing. Everyone always says we've never met a group like you. It's crazy." Robbie even decided to share an apartment in London with her BFF-turned-assistant.

The same goes for the actress' family: her close relationship with her mother made headlines in Australia when Robbie paid off the mortgage on her mom's house — one of her first moves after making it big. "I am immensely proud of her," mother Sarie Kessler said. "She is a fine young woman and she is directly focused and she sets goals and achieves them."

Margot Robbie rarely saw her father

While her relationship with her mother is strong, Margot Robbie isn't close to her father. The pair have been estranged since Doug Robbie (described by New Idea as "a rich and powerful property and sugarcane tycoon") reportedly walked out on the family when a young Margot was barely out of diapers. 

When asked by Harper's Bazaar about the qualities she shares with her father in 2016, the actress seemed reluctant to discuss the topic. "None," she quipped. "Nothing. I'm not like him at all." According to New Idea, The Legend of Tarzan star refused to let her dad walk her down the aisle on her wedding day later that year. When she tied the knot with British director Tom Ackerley (whom she met on the set of the 2015 war drama Suite Française), her mom gave her away. 

Not all of the Robbie siblings share Margot's animosity, however. Her brother Lachlan (a.k.a. Lockie) posted a picture with their papa on his Instagram with the caption: "Might not have the normal family but you did give an education and help when I needed it."

Margot Robbie was a Subway sandwich artist

Margot Robbie began earning her keep at a very young age, landing her first job in a local restaurant at 10 years old. She told Vanity Fair she was hired to polish cutlery and later advanced to chopping up vegetables and waiting tables. That was one of many jobs that bankrolled her acting career. "I've worked three jobs at a time," she said. "I worked in a pharmacy, an office, at a warehouse, did catering. I was always trying to save up money."

Her last regular-Joe job was in 2007, when she worked as a Subway sandwich artist in Melbourne, Australia. "I was really good at it," she told Vanity Fair. "I make a mean Subway. The trick is to spread everything evenly out and cut it so well that there is never a bad bite." The actress left Subway when she landed a part on the Aussie soap opera Neighbours, but six months later, the sandwich chain reached out to cast her in a commercial. "I got paid like 20 times the amount I ever earned there," Robbie said.

Margot Robbie was a massive Harry Potter nerd

Born in 1990, Margot Robbie went through her teenage years at the height of the Harry Potter phenomenon. When she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2016, the actor admitted to being such a "massive Harry Potter nerd" that she spent her 13th birthday at home reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. "Literally, the most embarrassing photo of my whole life," Robbie told host Jimmy Kimmel as a picture from the day flashed on the screen behind her. "I have braces, which I had for two years. I was really into slicking my hair back, God knows why. And I'm wearing glasses, which I didn't actually need. I had 20-20 vision and I lied to get glasses so I could look like Harry Potter."

In the years since, Robbie has opened up about her Harry Potter obsession in a number of interviews. When she sat down with Harper's Bazaar, she revealed that her friends hired "a Harry Potter-themed stripper" for her hen do. "He had all the Harry Potter phrases and innuendos," she recalled. "I was so touched; it was really such a thoughtful thing to do. They know me so well." Robbie admitted that she's actually been reading the seven Harry Potter books on a continuous loop for years as an alternative to meditation, getting between one and two hours in every single night before bed. It's apparently all a bit much for the Birds of Prey star's other half: "My husband hates it."

Margot Robbie had a heavy metal phase

Margot Robbie transitioned from her Harry Potter period to a heavy metal phase in the space of 12 months. Leaving magic for mosh pits, she told late night host Jimmy Fallon that she was stoked to be on his show the same night as Metallica.

"I had a real heavy metal phase when I was 14," she said on The Tonight Show in 2016. "I dyed my hair black and I'd only cut it with a razor blade, and I'd only wear band t-shirts and only listen to the heaviest of heavy metal." The actress grimaced as she listed the bands she used to listen to: Silverstein, Bullet for My Valentine, and Slipknot (fun fact: the latter's fans also refer to themselves as Maggots).

Robbie saw Slipknot live in Australia while she was working on Neighbours, but the soap had made her so famous Down Under that even the most hardened Maggots recognized her. Some even seemed more interested in the TV drama than the metal show. She told Fallon: "These huge guys with tattoos and piercings everywhere would be like, 'Is Bridget's baby really dead?'"

Margot Robbie jumped out of a plane on her 18th birthday

Australia has no shortage of options when it comes to extreme sports, and Margot Robbie has dabbled in more than a few over the years. To mark her 18th birthday, the adventurous teen jumped out of a plane with her best friend and boyfriend at the time. She told an Australian news outlet in 2009, "The three of us are going to jump out of a plane in the morning and then we are going to watch the [Rugby League] State of Origin final."

The daredevil actress revealed to Vanity Fair that she did the same thing on her 19th birthday and had planned to turn skydiving on her birthday into an annual tradition, until her career got in the way. However, Robbie still manages to get her adrenaline fix when she's back in Oz, whether that be through snorkeling or surfing — something she did regularly before jetting off to Los Angeles. "Even though I lived way out in the mountains, out in the sticks, I could still be out there surfing in 20 minutes," Robbie said. "It's such a cool landscape and so easy to get everywhere."

Margot Robbie didn't feel attractive growing up

Margot Robbie was named "sexiest woman of the year" by FHM in 2016. According to the men's mag, her work in Suicide Squad, coupled with her "stunning looks and impeccable talents," put her in "another stratosphere." It's easy to look at a gal like Robbie and assume that beauty comes naturally to her, but the truth is that she never felt attractive growing up.

"In my big group of girlfriends at home, I am definitely not the best-looking," she previously told Vanity Fair (via E! News). "I did not grow up feeling like I was particularly attractive. You should have seen me at 14, with braces and glasses, gangly and doing ballet." At 16, Robbie said she compensated for her self-esteem issues by slapping on way too much make-up — something she doesn't feel the need to do anymore. While speaking with Vogue in 2016, Robbie said, "I remember hitting that age and thinking I needed to wear tons of make-up because I was old enough to wear it. I think it's a confidence thing, you have your mask on all the time."

Margot Robbie wanted to be a magician

While Margot Robbie always hoped to launch a career in the performing arts, her initial dream job wasn't acting. As a child, she was really into magic. "When I was little, I thought I was going to be a magician," she told Vanity Fair. "I had tricks and thought they were genius. I didn't decide, 'I'm going to be an actress.' I didn't know that was a job. I thought that only happened to people born in Hollywood."

After finding fame, Robbie got the chance to get up close and personal with one of the world's most famous modern magicians. She was featured as a guest on David Blaine's Beyond Magic and rendered speechless when he correctly guessed a random word she'd chosen in her mind. That word was "dunny," Australian slang for toilet.

The actress got to learn the art of the steal from Vegas-based magician Apollo Robbins while preparing for the 2015 con-artist flick Focus. "That was the first thing that attracted me to [the movie] — I got to learn how to do actual pick-pocketing," Robbie explained to the Independent. "The most terrifying thing is having the confidence to actually execute a lift ... It's so ballsy to actually steal something off someone when you're looking at them in the eye."

Margot Robbie was a couch-surfer

When Margot Robbie moved to Melbourne, the heartland of her home country's television industry, at age 16, she had just a single student film on her resume and was essentially homeless. The aspiring soap star relied on friends to put a roof over her head while she settled in, being careful not to overstay her welcome at any one place. 

"Couch-surfing, that's an art," Robbie told Vanity Fair. Once on her feet, Robbie started cold-calling like crazy. "I called every day, and, eventually, one day, they put me through to Jan Russ, a producer for Neighbours," she said. "I went in and she was like, 'How old are you?' 'Seventeen.' And she says, 'We're casting for a 17-year-old girl right now.'" Within weeks, Robbie was making her debut on the show as motor-mouthed Donna Freedman.

With that goal accomplished, Robbie immediately set her sights on another. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, and the Hemsworth brothers — just a few of the many Aussie actors who've used Neighbours as a stepping stone for Hollywood. "I've got big, big dreams for the future," an 18-year-old Robbie told student mag S-Press (via The Sydney Morning Herald). "I want to go to LA and be a massive actor over there." Considering she's now a two-time Oscar nominee with a gorgeous Los Angeles home, we'd say goal accomplished.

Margot Robbie flipped out on Leonardo DiCaprio

Margot Robbie's first gig after quitting Neighbours and setting up Stateside was as an air stewardess in ABC's Pan Am (2011-12), which was canceled before it had the chance to take off. She nabbed a role playing a Brit in the Richard Curtis rom-com About Time (2013), but the actress was looking for a bigger opportunity to prove herself. Thinking there was zero chance she'd hear back, she sent an audition tape to Martin Scorsese, who was casting for The Wolf of Wall Street.

"I get home at six in the morning to all these missed phone calls and my team is saying, 'You are on a plane in a couple of hours to New York to read with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio,'" she later told Harper's Bazaar

The audition reportedly didn't start too well for her, because she was caught off guard by DiCaprio's ad-libbing. Fearing she was letting a life-changing role slip away, she decided to do some ad-libbing of her own. Or maybe ad-hitting would be a better way to describe it. "I walk up really close to his face and then I'm like, 'Maybe I should kiss him, when else am I ever going to get a chance to kiss Leo DiCaprio, ever?' But another part of my brain clicks and I just go — Whack! I hit him in the face, and then I scream, 'F**k you!' And that's not in the script at all." Scorsese and DiCaprio both loved it.

People thought Margot Robbie would be Australia's first female prime minister

When Margot Robbie's mother interviewed her on behalf of Vogue Australia in 2019, the two women went into detail about the actor's early childhood. According to Sarie Kessler, her daughter was "a very independent little person," who was always quite happy to be doing her own thing. She was so precocious that a family friend once told them that she'd be "the first female prime minister of Australia one day," which Robbie later described as a "poignant moment" that really stuck with her. "I went: 'Yeah, why not reach for the stars?'" From then on, confidence was never an issue for her — but patience was another matter.

"I remember when I was younger if I wanted to do something I didn't have the patience to wait to see if someone could help me to make it happen," Robbie said. "It was more: I want this now so I'm going to look up the bus timetable so I can go do that thing. I don't want to wait until Mum gets home from work and then see if I can get a lift somewhere." 

This attitude served Robbie well when she turned her attention to the film industry. Shortly after establishing herself as an actor, the Australian co-founded the production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, which oversaw Robbie's Tonya Harding biopic, I, Tonya, her neo-noir thriller, Terminal, and her big DC girl gang flick, Birds of Prey.

Margot Robbie's first kiss

Margot Robbie married filmmaker Tom Ackerley in 2016, three years after meeting him on the set of romantic drama, Suite Française, an adaptation of Irène Némirovsky's novel of the same name. Her mother approved of the union (she called Ackerley a "wonderful man" when she interviewed her daughter for Vogue Australia), though the dashing Brit wasn't the first boy that Robbie brought home. Before she became famous, the actor dated an Australian builder by the name of Matt Thompson, who was tracked down by the Daily Mail in 2015.

According to the British tabloid, Thompson went to school with Robbie. He reportedly took the future star to prom — and even gave Robbie her first kiss. "She wore an evening dress and the guys wore high school formal wear," he recalled. Did Thompson know back then that she had such a bright future? "I guess when you grow up with someone ... She was always pretty special, but she was just a normal girl back then." The Queensland native said that he and Robbie were on-and-off throughout their teenage years, and have remained on friendly terms in the years since. "I'll see her every now and then when she's over," Thompson claimed.

She didn't give any names, but Robbie spoke of an ex-beau who was a "really nice person" during a chat with Entertainment Tonight, recalling how she had to stop her girlfriends from egging his car after their relationship came to an end. "I was like, 'No, don't! I broke up with him!'"

Margot Robbie made a 'stupid' mistake in Italy

She may be a well traveled woman nowadays, but Margot Robbie's family couldn't afford to go on many trips when she was young. Luckily, she had friends who would invite her along on their family vacations and she got to have some "life changing" experiences overseas as a result. But as soon as the future actress caught the travel bug, she wanted more than just a quick getaway. 

"I picked Italian at school because that meant I could do an exchange trip for two months when I was 16," Robbie told Stylist. Her eight-week adventure in Italy (where her sister, Anya, lived at the time) was a memorable one, but she did something on that trip that she still regrets to this day: she got her nose pierced.

"I'd call that stupidity," Robbie told her mother during their candid Vogue Australia chit chat. "If I'd known then that I was one day going to be an actor I definitely would not have got my nose pierced. It's so annoying; I see the nose ring hole all the time on screen and I always think of that time I was a drunk stupid teenager in Italy thinking it would be hilarious to get my nose pierced." These days, Robbie approaches her travels with a bit more caution. When the actor went backpacking in the Philippines, she found herself thinking twice about doing things like jumping off waterfalls. "Now I am older I do stop and consider, 'Is this a good idea?'"

Margot Robbie wasn't always an angel

Margot Robbie took her mother to the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, which was a real "pinch-me moment" for the actor. The way she sees it, bringing her mom, Sarie Kessler, along for the ride now that she's rich and famous is the least she can do — they've always been close, but that doesn't mean Robbie was always an angel. During an interview with London's Evening Standard, the Hollywood star revealed that she and her siblings often pushed their luck. "We weren't easy kids," Robbie admitted. "We didn't make it easy for mum." 

Sometimes, it was Robbie's can-do attitude that led to friction between the pair: "When I was five I was watching my mum put spread on my sandwich for school and I was saying, 'It's not going to the edges,' and she was like, 'If I am not doing it right, do it yourself.'" That was all Robbie needed to hear. From that moment onward, she started making her own school lunch. "If I wanted something a certain way I just did it myself," she explained. "Mum says that sums me up. I'm still trying to make it up to her." 

By this point, we're pretty sure Robbie's been forgiven. Not only did she pay off the mortgage on her childhood home, Robbie later bought her mom a brand new house in Queensland in 2019. "It's a lovely home," a local source told the Daily Mail. "And it's good to see the family are sharing in her success."