Margot Robbie landed her role as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in quite an unconventional manner. Agents will usually book auditions for their actor clients whenever a project is in development, and casting directors will then pick out the standout performer for a particular part.
Robbie had never worked with Tarantino before, but as a massive fan of his movies, she was determined to achieve the feat sooner or later.
As a result, she decided to write a letter to the director expressing her admiration for his work, and a desire to collaborate in future. As it turned out, the timing of her letter was impeccable: the Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds creator had just finished the script for his latest project.
They arranged a meeting soon after and Robbie practically sealed the part of Sharon Tate, the actress who was married to director Roman Polanski and was eventually murdered by members of the Manson family cult. She was portrayed as a deep and complex character in the film, which is why Tarantino took exception to a question suggesting he had given Robbie a diminished role.
Tarantino Was Unimpressed By The Question
The exchange took place at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival in France, where Once Upon A Time in Hollywood premiered in May 2019. The question was posed by Farah Nayeri, who works as a culture writer for the New York Times. Her bone of contention was that despite Robbie’s impressive portfolio as an actress, she only had a few lines throughout the entire movie.
“You have put Margot Robbie—a very talented actor—in your film,” Nayeri posed to Tarantino. “She was [with] Leonardo in Wolf of Wall Street, I, Tonya… This is a person with a great deal of acting talent. And yet you haven’t really given her many lines in the movie. I guess that was a deliberate choice on your part. And I just wanted to know why that was, that we don’t hear her actually speaking very much.”
In the same breath, she also wanted to know what Robbie thought about this ‘limited’ nature of her role. Tarantino was clearly unimpressed by the question, and he dismissed Nayeri with a one-liner: “Well, I just reject your hypothesis.
Robbie Was A Lot More Diplomatic
Robbie, on the other hand, was a lot more diplomatic in her response. “Like I said earlier, I always look to the character and what the character is supposed to serve to the story,” she said. She did acknowledge that there were not that many lines for her to perform, but she nonetheless felt that the depth of the character still shone through. This, in her eyes, was a fitting tribute to Sharon Tate.
“I think the moments that I got on screen gave an opportunity to honor Sharon,” Robbie explained. “I think the tragedy ultimately was the loss of innocence. And to really show those wonderful sides of her, I think could be adequately done without speaking.”
Tarantino Doesn’t Write Shallow Characters
Another of the best actresses of this generation is Uma Thurman, who has been a regular Tarantino collaborator in the past. Their first project together was Pulp Fiction, one of the director’s very first pictures. She then played the lead role in Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2, his classic martial arts movies from 2003 and 2004. If there is one person best placed to speak to his approach to writing characters—particularly female ones—it would be her.
For instance, both have confirmed that they literally worked together to create the Bride, her Kill Bill character. While their professional partnership was extremely fruitful, their personal relationship was a lot more fractious. So much so that Tarantino once said that ‘trust had been broken between them. Despite this, Thurman derived so much from her interactions with him, that she remains open to collaborating again in the future.
Tarantino is indeed a bit of an eccentric genius. However, it would be hard to genuinely argue that he writes characters who are shallow. That was definitely not the case with Margot Robbie’s Sharon in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and he made this bluntly clear in his exchange with Farah Nayeri.