Margot Robbie was forced to jump to Quentin Tarantino’s defence at the Cannes Film Festival a day after the director received mostly rave reviews for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Robbie was sitting with Tarantino and her co-stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at a press conference when one journalist asked why she had so few lines in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
“I just reject your hypothesis,” Tarantino, 56, snapped.
Robbie, who plays doomed actress Sharon Tate in the 1969-set movie, quickly rescued Tarantino, saying she felt her moments on screen paid tribute to the “lightness” she had heard Tate had.
Tate was 26 when she and her unborn son Paul were killed by Charles Manson’s followers at her Los Angeles home.
“I don’t think it was intended to delve deeper,” Robbie said.
“I think the tragedy, ultimately, was the loss of innocence. To show those wonderful sides of her could ultimately be done without speaking. … I got a lot of time to explore the character even without speaking.
“Rarely do I get to spend so much time on my own as a character. That was actually an interesting thing for me to do as an actor.”
Robbie added she signed up for the role because “I felt that I could honour the memory” of Tate, who was married to controversial director Roman Polanski at the time of her brutal murder.
“Quentin said to me ‘She’s the heartbeat of the story’. I saw her as a ray of light.”
Robbie’s willingness to open up was a stark contrast to that of Tarantino, whose new film is poised to be his biggest hit since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.
Asked by another journalist if he had any doubts or hesitation over using tragic real-life characters in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino responded with one word: “No.”
According to reports, he also refused to talk about the issue of violence in the movie, saying it would spoil things for audiences if he did.
“I can’t really address that,” he said.
Tarantino said he hadn’t spoken to Polanski before making the film, but “I’ve met him a couple of times. I’m a fan of Roman Polanski’s work, particularly Rosemary’s Baby. I like that a lot”.
Tarantino’s refusal to talk about Robbie’s lack of lines bemused those at the press conference, according to reports, given – as pointed out by The Los Angeles Times – he could have faced tougher questions about his track record with misogyny.
He’s never spoken about whether he changed his approach to on-set safety after Uma Thurman alleged in February 2018 he made her perform a stunt on the set of 2003’s Kill Bill that left her permanently injured.
Tarantino cast Emile Hirsch in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, despite the actor pleading guilty in 2015 to assaulting a female executive.
He’s also not commented on Rose McGowan’s claims, published in her 2018 memoir, that he publicly spoke about masturbating to footage of her feet in the movie Jawbreaker.
And in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, DiCaprio’s character idolises Polanski, whose 1977 rape charge Tarantino once defended as “statutory rape”.
In February, Tarantino publicly apologised to the victim for making “cavalier remarks” about her rape case against the Polish director.