Margot Robbie exploded onto the big screen in a way most actresses can only dream of.

The then 22-year-old unknown (on the global stage that is, Aussies already considered her a national treasure as Donna in Neighbours), starred as Leonardo DiCaprio's love interest in the 2013 blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street.

The scene that made her a sex symbol. Photo / Supplied
The scene that made her a sex symbol. Photo / Supplied

Who was this strikingly beautiful woman that literally came out of nowhere? The world wanted to know. And they wanted more.

And more they got. What seemed to be overnight, Robbie booked back-to-back-to-back films, from Focus, The Legend of Tarzan, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Suicide Squad; these all within three years of her big break.


And while at this point (2016) she was already a bona fide member of Hollywood's A-list, 2017 was the year Robbie really made it.

We've all seen, or at the very least heard of, I, Tonya. Robbie played disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding and scored her very first Oscar nomination for Best Actress (she's nominated yet again at this year's Oscars for her supporting role in Bombshell).

It was Robbie's best performance to date. Photo / Supplied
It was Robbie's best performance to date. Photo / Supplied

But what you probably don't know is that this multi-award winning movie was shot in 31 days and barely had a budget.

It was the very first film to come from production company LuckyChap Entertainment, which Robbie started alongside her husband, Tom Ackerley, and friends Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr.

Robbie, who founded the company in 2014 with a mission to develop female-driven content, stepped on as producer for I, Tonya, working with a pretty dismal $US11 million budget.

Some days Robbie, who hails from the Gold Coast in Queensland, would shoot up to nine scenes, having only 20 minutes to get changed in between takes. This on the back of four months of ice skating training.

What Robbie took on, especially after years of working with big budgets and big companies, was pure determination and a love of movie-making.

"A lot of people told us it was impossible to do," Robbie told MarketWatch in 2018 of her experience trying to get the film off the ground.


"We're very young producers so I guess we had enough blind optimism to believe that we could pull it off.

"Thankfully, we didn't listen (to them)."

I, Tonya, which also stars Sebastian Stan as Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Allison Janney as her tough-as-nails mother, LaVona, was directed by Craig Gillespie from a script by Steven Rogers.

Rogers, after interviewing both Harding and Gillooly in real life, finished his script in early 2016.

He was so proud of it, he knew he couldn't send it to the big studios, at risk of having his work gutted. So, for the first time in his career, he marketed it to independent film companies on the proviso they leave it untouched, and that his long-time friend Janney play LaVona.

The script – luckily for Rogers – landed in Robbie's hands, the star eager to jump on board after admitting she didn't believe it was a true story at the time of reading. It was just that good.

"I thought, this writer is so kooky for coming up with all of this stuff," Robbie told The Post.

"And then I realised it was a true story, and I was absolutely blown away."

I, Tonya is based on real life interviews with its protagonists, who each had very different sides to the story.

But that was the point – Rogers and crew wanted the audience to make up their own mind, despite how challenging this can be to convey onscreen.

But alas, it was a giant success both critically and commercially.

Janney, who shot her part in only eight days, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work. I, Tonya grossed $US 53 million worldwide, five times more than its budget, and was nominated for a string of awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes, among others. And of course, allowed Robbie to put 'Academy Award nominated actress' on her resume.

The cast and crew of 'I,Tonya' attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards. Photo / Getty Images
The cast and crew of 'I,Tonya' attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards. Photo / Getty Images

I, Tonya

put Robbie into a whole new stratosphere. One where she is not just acknowledged for how beautiful she is – but for being a bloody good actor, proving she can call the shots behind the scenes, being a fierce advocate for females in the workplace, and remarkably, can produce an award-winning film against a small budget.

Of course since then, she's gone on to star in more successful films, including 2020 Oscar nominated Bombshell and Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood, as well as Mary Queen of Scots, Peter Rabbit and Goodbye Christopher Robin.

And her production company is just as busy. Going forward, LuckyChap has a slew of big productions in the pipeline.

Those include the Harley Quinn spin-off, Birds of Prey, which Robbie stars in, as well as Barbie, Promising Young Woman and the TV series Dollface on Hulu, all of which champion female actresses, directors and production teams.