Get to know the real Margot Robbie

Warner Bros.

Australian actress Margot Robbie picked up some interesting new skills while making the con artist drama “Focus,” including how to lift people’s wallets. She also, as it turns out, prefers staying in hostels when on vacation than boring, stodgy hotels.

So you were on vacation in Croatia when you heard about your “Focus” audition?
When I got the call, I was staying on the island of Hvar, and I was off that day to all the other islands — the Blue Cave, the Green Cave. It’s insane. It’s one of those hidden gems, but people are really catching onto it now so it’s probably not going to be untouched for long. Yes, I’ve actually been paid by the Croatian tourism industry to plug it so much in the press. (laughs)

Considering how busy you are and how much your profile is rising, shouldn’t you have graduated to regular hotels by now?
Yeah, everyone’s like, “How do you still do that?” I don’t know, I’ve just kept doing it and it’s not been a problem, weirdly enough. I stayed at a hostel in Ireland earlier this year while I was shooting “Tarzan,” and it was fine.

You know you don’t have to, right?
Yeah, but it’s way more fun, though. You meet so many people in a hostel. When you’re in a hotel, things don’t really happen, you know? When you stay in a hostel, you just get taken off on tangents. You wake up and suddenly someone from Belgium is sleeping in the bed next to you and they tell you about a part of town you never would’ve discovered sitting in your hotel room. Plus, it’s like $20 a night for a really nice hostel room. It’s such a bargain. And I know I can probably afford to stay in hotels now, but I can’t get this ingrained notion of saving money out of my head. I can’t justify wasting money, I just can’t.

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Apollo Robbins, your sleight-of-hand consultant, says you were the best pickpocketing student among the cast. Do you think you could still pull it off?
When I was training, I definitely could’ve pulled it off — not to toot my own horn — but even when I was super-slick at it, having the confidence to do the pulls was the hardest part, and I just don’t have the balls for it. I could definitely steal from someone right now if I didn’t have to engage with them, if they were, like, eating and I could take something out of their bag, or if they’re walking in the street I could probably take their wallet or phone out of their back pocket. But the inner breast pocket, front pockets, I’d be too scared to do now.

There are so many great movies about con artists. What do think it is about them that appeal to actors so much?
I don’t know why people find the whole conning world so sexy — and I’m including myself in that. There’s something alluring about it. I guess for both actors choosing to play those roles and people watching the films it’s just kind of living vicariously through someone else and doing things you can’t do in your own life. I guess that’s enticing.

But then pickpocketing in movies is so much sexier than in real life.
Totally. I mean, in the real world pickpocketing, you get a whole bunch of junk and then you’ve got to find a way to sell it. And then once you actually gone to the effort of selling it, you’re left with no money. There are no rich pickpockets. You’re basically Oliver Twist. And he wore rags.

But his friend wore a top hat.
Yeah, he was a baller.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

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