Talking to Nerdist at a recent press event, Robbie explained how her crusade to make the film, which began after her work on Suicide Squad completed, was a difficult one, lasting for five years and facing down a lot of resistance.
It began with her press tour for Suicide Squad when she realised that her character, Harley Quinn, had a massive fanbase eager to be catered to.
“During Suicide Squad–when we would go to Comic-Con and such–I started to realise there was just such a huge fan base for Harley,” Robbie said. “Whilst I was researching the character I started to read Birds of Prey and first I fell in love with Huntress, and I started looking into all of that. I was like, ‘Wow, there’s so many cool female DC characters and no one knows anything about any of them!’ So what if we had a platform for fans to get to know and fall in love with some of these other amazing women? Focusing on the Gotham City Sirens, there were only three of us and we were all well known, whereas with Birds of Prey you can pick any grouping for that, and I thought that might be the perfect platform to introduce some female characters who might really have some legs in the DC Universe.”
But convincing the people in charge of that was not easy, she explained, saying, “It was before anyone had done an R-rated comic book film. I was saying, ‘I want to do an R-rated film.’ It was before Wonder Woman and I was saying, ‘I want a female-led action film’ – you know, those things weren’t being done yet. I think they wanted to make sure that if they’re going to take a risk like that, that it was going to be done correctly. So we spent a lot of time developing the script and making everyone feel confident in the material. Then once everyone was on board, some other things started coming out to help them feel like, ‘Oh yeah, this could work.’ After that, it started to move really fast, but in the initial stages I think what I was pitching sounded crazy.”
It’s the bind a lot of marginalised creators face: executives and experts believe that their work can’t sell, because no one has tried it before, therefore there’s no evidence of it selling. It’s one of the reasons those movies don’t get made in the first place. But it’s exciting to see Birds of Prey, considering how different it feels from the rest of the DC slate and how much it seems to be a personal passion project of Robbie’s. Most movies like these are the result of corporate planning, not personal desire, so to see Robbie crusade for this movie and express that with pride makes the end result sound all that more appealing.
Birds of Prey comes out in Australia on February 6.