Margot Robbie has a secret trick for getting into character. The Australian actor uses an acting and movement technique that involves imagining herself as an animal, she revealed on Monday’s episode of the Kelly Clarkson Show. To play figure-skating villain Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (2017), Robbie inhabited the identity of a pitbull. For her latest role, as Nellie LaRoy in Babylon, she chose one of nature’s most chaotic creatures: the honey badger.
“I have honey badgers on my ranch,” Clarkson says on the show. “They are mean!”
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“They’re insane,” Robbie says. “There are actually videos of honey badgers fighting snakes. There’s videos of honey badgers — which aren’t huge animals — fighting, like, lions, and they have really thick skin, and they’re just insane.”
The honey badger, which weighs only about 30 pounds and whose nature Tiktok comedian Mamadou Ndiaye calls a “steroid felony weasel,” is revered for its scrappiness, fearlessness, and of course for not giving a shit. The carnivorous mammals have been known to survive bee stings, porcupine quills, machete blows, lion bites, and snake venom — as they regularly fight, kill, and eat poisonous snakes.
In Babylon – Damien Chazelle’s ode to old Hollywood excess, which opened in theaters Dec. 23 – Robbie’s character Nellie is a coked-out rising starlet who wants to make it big and party nonstop along the way. “She has really thick skin, and she just fights anybody and anything at the drop of the hat,” Robbie says. Pertinently, this includes a live rattlesnake, which Nellie battles with her bare hands — albeit less successfully than your typical honey badger.
Robbie tells Clarkson that researching a role can feel overwhelming. “Sometimes your head gets so clouded with statistics and facts and history,” she says on the show. “If you just revert back to the animal, then you can just be really, really instinctual.”
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