Margot Robbie Admits She “Didn’t Know The Definition of Sexual Harassment” Prior to ‘Bombshell’

"The second I could stop being Kayla, I did," the actress says of her character.

Margot Robbie has a “shocking” confession to make. Prior to her role as Kayla Pospisil in 2019’s movie, Bombshell, Robbie “didn’t know the definition of sexual harassment” nor did she have the tools to recognize it in the workplace.

Her workplace was the TV and film industry, which had been capsized by predators like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein, the latter of which was, at the time, exposed by the media for 30-plus years of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

It wasn’t until Robbie read the script and got into character that she began to understand the true magnitude of the effects and definition of sexual harassment, especially as it pertains to people in Hollywood.

“I realized that I — as a person with an established position in the industry, financially set up and self-sufficient — I didn’t know the definition of sexual harassment, and that’s shocking,” the actress admitted during a BAFTA Life in Pictures talk celebrating her career, per Variety.

Based on a true story, Bombshell enfolds after news anchor Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) files a lawsuit against her boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, alleging sexual harassment. Her story prompts Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) to share her own experience with Ailes, inciting a domino effect around the company.

Feeling “horrified” over her lack of knowledge about sexual harassment, Robbie auditioned so she could educate herself on the subject. She plays an upbeat TV producer who dreams of becoming a Fox News correspondent.

However, the path to being in front of the camera is not one she ever foresaw let alone falling victim to.

“The second I could stop being Kayla, I did,” Robbie said. “It was definitely something I wanted to tap out of at the end.”

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While filming Bombshell, Robbie learned that all forms of sexual harassment, whether it’s verbal or physical, “flourishes in the grey area.”

“Roger Ailes or Harvey Weinstein, they take advantage of the area,” she said. When it comes to inappropriate misconduct, “the situation isn’t black and white.”

In 2020, Bombshell received three Oscar nominations. The movie was up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, which it won.

However, perhaps the best “award” was that it sparked a conversation about sexual harassment on a broader scope.

If you’re interested in learning more about the topic, the Joyful Heart Foundation has a resourceful guide to recognizing warning signs and supporting victims.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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