Carey Mulligan and Margot Robbie worked together on Emerald Fennell’s A Promising Young Woman, where Mulligan met and Robbie produced through her company LuckyChap Entertainment. And when they sit down to discuss their latest projects — Mulligan’s turn as Megan Toohey, a New York Times reporter with Jody Cantor whose investigative work helped bring down Harvey Weinstein, and Robbie’s portrayal of Nellie LaRoy in “Babylon,” a self-destructive silent movie star — it’s like watching two old friends chat. During the interview, Mulligan talked about getting to know Tuwehe, and Robbie gave insight into working with Damien Chazelle on the wild thriller “Babylon.” Naturally, Robbie’s upcoming summer movie “Barbie” also comes via Greta Gerwig.
Carey Mulligan: I have many questions about “Babylon”. Actually, on “Maestro,” which I just finished, I was talking to Steve Morrow, the sound engineer, and he said, “I worked on ‘Babylon.’ It’s unbelievable.”
Margot Robbie: It’s crazy! I mean, when I read the script, it was like “La Dolce Vita” and “Wolf of Wall Street” had a baby – and I loved it. But I was like, are we allowed to show that? We are allowed to show it. That’s what he said.? I mean, there were a lot of scenes where I was like, a) I have no idea how to do that, and b) are we going to get away with it?
Mulligan: When you first read the script, how close was the finished film?
Robbie: Very close. As is the case with many writer-directors, Damien didn’t find it in editing; He has a vision. And because he’s musically gifted, I think even the melody of that melody was clearly felt on the page and then translated completely.
Mulligan: The music is amazing. I watched it with my mom and she…
Robbie: what did she think Oh my God.
Mulligan: It’s really fun to watch with your mom.
Robbie: Everyone should watch “Babylon” with their parents. It will never be boring.
Mulligan: I sent my mom years ago with my boyfriend of maybe two months now to go “shame” with my husband. Yes, it was brutal.
Robbie: That’s an ice breaker.
Mulligan: But, no, she loved “Babylon.” So all the first order is a huge party – with an elephant. How many of the elephants were real? Don’t spoil my cinema.
Robbie: The elephant was not real.
Mulligan: To clarify, the whole opening sequence is this super deranged, crazy, wild party. And there are plenty of people wearing very little or nothing.
Robbie: It’s very much a party-slash-orgy. It turns into an orgy.
Mulligan: It’s Porgy! So who were all these background actors? Because they are all incredible dancers.
Robbie: Many dancers. And I also asked some of my friends, because it was important to have the party atmosphere in the film. I always had friends in the movie. Base Camp was a bit of a continuous party. I was like, I need to kind of Nelli; I want her to be quiet for a minute, to never write herself.
But, yeah, speaking of dissolving into character, can we please talk about you and the movie “She’s There”? It really stuck with me after I saw it. I was reliving different moments of the movie in my head. As I was watching, I said, “Oh, I’m so excited. I’m going to see a Kerry movie!” But when I look at you, I don’t think of you as an actor; I think of you as a real person. You bring so much humanity, it’s like you don’t do anything. Unless she’s doing these crazy crying scenes or yelling at someone in a bar, and I’m like, “She’s taking her pants off, but it doesn’t feel like acting.” I was blown away.
Mulligan: Oh thanks mate. So when I first read the script, we were still doing press for “A Promising Young Woman,” which you had produced. You were behind the camera.
Robbie: You are the star of our glory. The connection is amazing.
Mulligan: And, of course, you’re talking about very sensitive things with “She Said.” Ours The story – “A Promising Young Woman” – was a fantasy based on things we all know and see, but it wasn’t real. We were not talking about someone’s actual testimony. But Megan Toohey and Jodi Cantor are very real, very much alive, still working in the world and incredibly talented, fantastic journalists. And the story they wrote is very loaded material. It’s just more responsibility. And I’m really impressed with Megan – who she is and how her brain works.
Robbie: She looks badass. What she did was crazy.
Mulligan: It’s amazing. And the work that they’ve done in developing these relationships with the survivors that have finally come forward – whether they’re on the record or not – it seems like, gosh, there’s a group of women who have done this really heroic work. I was explaining it to my kids because they were looking at the bulletin boards. And they said, “‘What did she say’?” They are kind of.
“We might see it at 40, but it’s about these women being abused by a man. And they were bullies for a long time. And it was really unfair, and they decided to do something about it. They all gathered and stood before him. He became responsible.
Robbie: That’s a good way to explain it.
Mulligan: And I thought, “That’s it.” More examples for that please. More examples of how women around the world can come together and be strong.
Robbie: And did you get to spend time with Megan?
Mulligan: Loads, actually. We did a lot of zooming in the beginning, and I moved the family to New York, and we got to spend more time with our kids. Megan was really open. She was really honest about her struggles with postpartum depression and a lot of things going on in her home life.
Robbie: I remember when we approached you on “A Promising Young Woman” to play Cassandra. I was like, “We will never accept Carey Mulligan.” And I was totally eating my words. I’ve told you before: Like Meryl Streep, I’ll hold you in this rarefied air of prestige actresses. And I was like, I want to see a legitimately respectable actress drunk in a bar in a spandex dress with mascara running down her face.
Mulligan: The dream was that if we made even one of her costumes into a Halloween costume, women would wear it… and they would.
Robbie: I always thought to myself, I know I’ve really made it when a legit rapper uses my name in a rap.
Mulligan: That should be it.
Robbie: It’s actually Jack Harlow. I was very excited. My friends all sent it to me because they said, “It’s done.” did you.”
Mulligan: I want to ask about “Barbie”. So Greta Gerwig, I don’t really get her. She is the best – by far. But she’s doing “Barbie” and you’re doing “Barbie” and Ryan Gosling is doing “Barbie” – oh my god.
Robbie: Of course, if…
Mulligan: I worked on “Drive” with Ryan back in the day.
Robbie: Is he not the most honorable human being?
Mulligan: The sweetest, most beautiful person in the world and an incredible actor. So you two do “Barbie” with Greta – it’s so funny.
Robbie: I see a lot of similarities between Greta and Damien. You mentioned the same things. Both love “Cherbourg umbrellas”. I mean, a lot of directors do, but unfortunately, I find them mentioning the same things. And he asked, “Have you ever talked before?” I asked. She said, “No, we’ve never met.
Mulligan: It was a wild swing for Greta.
Robbie: I’ve been working on it for about four or five years now – it’s a LuckyChap project. And we went after Greta. There’s probably three people we want to do a Barbie movie for, and if she says no, I’ll…. So thank God she said yes. She’s just brilliant.
Mulligan: Do you build giant Barbie houses in the movie?
Robbie: Dream homes? You will see some dream homes. And everything you imagined will happen.
Set design Jack Flanagan