It’s hard to imagine saying “no” to Martin Scorsese. The Oscar-winning director of “The Departed,” “Hugo,” “GoodFellas” and more remains one of the most prolific filmmakers in the business, as fresh and energized now at 71 years old as he’s ever been.
But Australian actress Margot Robbie nearly turned down the chance to work with Scorsese on “The Wolf of Wall Street,” based on true-stories of fraud and crime on Wall Street in the 1980s. Robbie plays Naomi Lapaglia in the film, a role that requires no small amount of nudity — a fact that nearly drove Robbie away from the project.
“Initially, right at the beginning of my career, I said that I’d never do nudity. I made that clear to my team. They all knew that from the beginning,” she told MTV’s Josh Horowitz about her initial reservations with the “Wolf of Wall Street” role. “When I first did my audition, we never expected it to go any further than perhaps [the first round]. We now found ourselves in the predicament where Marty wanted to test me, and we now had to go back and say, ‘Well, look, she doesn’t actually want to do nudity — and the part requires nudity.’ ”
“They came back to us and said, ‘Well, why did she audition?’ And we said, ‘Well, we honestly didn’t expect you ever wanted to see her,'” she laughed.
Over time, Robbie’s team tried to convince her that if there was ever a moment in her career to embrace on-screen nudity, it was “Wolf of Wall Street.” Besides, as Robbie notes, Scorsese films aren’t typically gratuitous when it comes to nudity: “There’s a lot of violence, but there isn’t a lot of nudity. He doesn’t exploit nudity like that. Anything he does, he does it well.”
Still, Robbie felt trepidation over taking the part. “For a while, I thought, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe I shouldn’t do it,” she said. “Which, in hindsight, is ridiculous, that I was even thinking that. But I tried to stick to that for a while.”
So, what changed? How did Robbie convince herself to bear it all and embrace the “Wall Street” lifestyle?
“I just started getting emotionally invested in the role,” she said. “The more I started working on the character, the more I was falling in love with it. All of the sudden, one day, I realized, ‘If I say no to this, someone else will get the part — and no one else can play this role! I have to do it, which means I have to do nudity, and that’s fine. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to have this opportunity.’ It was worth doing to have the experience I had.”
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is in theaters now.