Australian powerhouse Margot Robbie has been embroiled in a sexism scandal over the casting of the lead role of her latest Hollywood movie.
Australian powerhouse Margot Robbie has been embroiled in a sexism scandal over the casting of the lead role of her latest Hollywood movie.

Margot Robbie’s star blasts sexist review

Margot Robbie has been embroiled in a sexism scandal over the casting of the lead role in new movie Promising Young Woman.

British actress Carey Mulligan demanded an apology from Variety magazine when a reviewer claimed that she was "not hot enough" to play the lead character in the film.

Robbie produced the movie through the LuckyChap Entertainment company she owns with her husband Tom Ackerley.

Despite an overwhelming positive review of the film - due for release in February - freelance writer Dennis Harvey's critique of Mulligan's appearance was stinging.

He suggested Robbie should have played the role instead, claiming that Mulligan, 35, looked like she was wearing "bad drag" when she played Cassie, a woman who pretends to be drunk to see if men will take advantage of her in bars.

Carey Mulligan stars as Cassandra in Promising Young Woman. Picture: Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features
Carey Mulligan stars as Cassandra in Promising Young Woman. Picture: Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features

"Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale - Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her," he wrote.

"Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pick-up-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on."

Variety described Carey Mulligan as an ‘odd choice’.
Variety described Carey Mulligan as an ‘odd choice’.

Robbie, 30, has not yet publicly commented on the stoush, which erupted this week when Mulligan addressed why she had demanded an apology.

The review was first published in January 2020, but Mulligan did not reference it until shortly before Christmas in a New York Times article.

Variety interviewed Mulligan again about the movie this week, where she stood firm on her decision to call the review out as sexist.

Given the film's underlying theme of sexual assault, she considered the critique of her looks tone deaf.

British film critic behind the podcast Girls on Film Anna Smith said women were still mistreated in the film industry.

"It's hardly new to say that the industry judges women on their appearances, but it bears repeating. I think the industry is still predominantly patriarchal and that needs to change," she told News Corp Australia.

"The fact that Mulligan's points about everyday sexism are being taken seriously is a sign of progress."

Australian actor Margot Robbie has become a power player in Hollywood.
Australian actor Margot Robbie has become a power player in Hollywood.

Mulligan said in an interview with Variety this week that "bemoaning her lack of attractiveness" did not "wound her ego", but said she was concerned any actor's appearance could be directly criticised in a leading publication.

"I think it's important to call out those things, because they seem small and they seem insignificant," she said.

"People around me at the time said, Oh, you know, get over it. Whatever. It's great - it's a great review. Or whatever: People love the film.

"But it stuck with me, because I think it's these kind of every day moments that add up - that mean that we start to edit the way that women appear on screen, and we want them to look a certain way.

"We want to airbrush them, and we want to make them look perfect. Or we want to edit the way that they work, the way they move, and the way that they think and behave. And I think we need to see real women portrayed on screen and in all of their complexity. So I felt that it was one small thing to point out that could be helpful."

Robbie, who starred in Bombshell about sexual harassment in the US television industry, has been making films through her production company that gives women different roles.

She produced Birds of Prey, a Batman spin off where she plays Harley Quinn, who has split from the joker, in a female-led crime action movie.

Smith said that Robbie was backing films, including Promising Young Woman and a planned Barbie movie, that were showing women in a new light.

"By supporting this film Robbie is sending a clear message that we need to reassess some of the traditional depictions of women on screen," she said.

"Promising Young Woman challenges several female archetypes in a darkly comic way, which we also saw in Birds of Prey and may well see in Barbie."

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

Originally published as Margot Robbie's star blasts sexist review


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