‘I Have This Meltdown’: Margot Robbie Admits She Was Fully Freaking Out The Day Before Barbie Started Shooting (And Greta Gerwig Confirms)

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Written By Maya Cantina

Barbie (which can be streamed with a Max subscription) was arguably the biggest movie of last year. Barbie was a massive box office hit and it stands a chance of going home from the Oscars with more than one statue. Barbie received several major 2024 Oscar nominations, despite its star and director both being criminally overlooked. The movie is a staggering achievement, being both an IP-driven tentpole based on a popular toy, and a serious look at just what that toy means to the culture at large. It’s incredible the movie works as well as it does, so maybe it’s not too much of a shock that Margot Robbie completely freaked out before production.

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie both recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times about Barbie, and the actress admits that she ended up at her director’s house the night before filming was set to begin, having a “crisis.” She says she didn’t feel like she knew what she was doing and wasn’t going to know how to handle the character when the time came. Robbie explained… 

I went to Greta’s house and had that crisis. I’d spent years trying to get this movie going. And suddenly we’re going to shoot the thing. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I dunno how to do this.’ It happens before every single movie I’ve ever done. A few weeks out, I have this meltdown where I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I don’t know how to act. Everyone’s going to suddenly realize that I can’t do any of this, and it’s going to be terrible.’ And then it is just sheer panic. So yes, I went to Greta’s house. The panic was palpable and debilitating. ‘I don’t know how to apply any of this research I’ve done, and I’ve done all the things, and I still don’t know who she is.’

Robbie says that it’s not uncommon for her to feel this way about any character she is playing before filming starts, so that part wasn’t necessarily a surprise. We know Robbie has unique ways of preparing for roles. Still, it was no less a problem for Robbie. And it’s ultimately understandable. Barbie is a movie that walks a tightrope. It deals with some pretty serious themes, but through a character who, at the start, isn’t a person. Robbie says this lack of character history was the thing she couldn’t get over. She continued… 

It was so hard, because it was trying to pick up something that had nothing to hold onto. It was like when you’ve got just a grape left in your bowl and you’re trying to get it with your fork, and I’m like, ‘I can’t get you.’ There’s nothing here to hold onto, because she doesn’t have childhood trauma and she doesn’t have all these things that I normally latch onto and then build off. She doesn’t have any of it, and I couldn’t get her. And then Greta helped me through that and pointed me in all the right directions, and we talked through it.

One might believe that Margot Robbie was exaggerating her experience, but director Greta Gerwig confirms the incident at her house. She also empathized with her star, as she says writers can have a similar experience in their process. Gerwig said…

I have a distinct memory of Margot coming over to my house before we started shooting and having a bit of an actor crisis: ‘How am I doing this?’ It’s the actor equivalent of facing a blank page.

Together the two talked through things, and we can tell now from the result that what they did certainly worked. Baribei is without question one of Margot Robbie’s best movies. While Robbie missed out on an acting nomination and Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director, both may still take the Oscar stage next month. Gerwig is nominated as the writer of the Barbie screenplay and Robbie, as a producer of Barbie, will take the stage if the movie wins Best Picture.  


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