David Ayer's Suicide Squad might not have been a major hit with critics, though one of the film's near-universally praised standouts was Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn, with the actress recently opening up to reveal that what she connected with most about the character was the complicated nature of her psyche that many audiences would have dismissed as the root of her being a "villain." Clearly her connection with the character resonated not only with audiences, but also drew the attention of Warner Bros., as Robbie is reprising the role and taking center stage in the upcoming Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
"There’s definitely an aspect to her that took me a while to understand, and that was why she would stay in a relationship with a guy that abuses her," Robbie revealed to Variety. "But that only took a little bit of research, and reading — and then something eventually clicks into place. I read the play 'Fool For Love,' and suddenly I understood her relationship with Mr. J in a way that I couldn’t before that."
The actress continued to detail how schizophrenia has been stigmatized in popular culture, despite how prevalent it is in our society.
"[Harley is] a psychiatrist who understands mental illness, but also has mental illness herself," Robbie admitted. "Schizophrenia was a big one that I focused on, because, in the original screenplay, which is always what I go to, one of the lines was, 'It’s the voices in my head.' So I clung on to that — it’s the voices in her head. 'Who are the voices? What are they saying? How many voices are there, and at what times do they kick in?' There’s amazing TED Talks from women who in a lot of cases were career professionals, they had PhDs — incredibly intelligent women who had schizophrenia. One of the women was saying how one of the voices in her head gave her all the answers to her final medical exam, for example. Just stuff like that, that I was like, 'Oh my god, this is so great for Harley. This is fascinating!'”
Dating back to the character's debut in Batman: The Animated Series, audiences have been intimidated by her unhinged demeanor, though it was this mindset that also made her incredibly endearing. The abusive relationship between Harley and Joker earned its fair share of criticisms from Suicide Squad audiences, with the new film being entirely absent of the Joker.
Robbie continued, "Harley has this unpredictable nature that means she could react in any way to any situation, which as an actor is just a gift. Between all those things, I really just fell in love with her. "
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) lands in theaters on February 7th.
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