“The shooting style, shooting on the ice, is because we couldn’t afford a jib arm,” says Robbie, referring to a device used to move a camera in tricky arcs. “And then our camera operator says, ‘Actually, I can ice skate.’ Okay. Let’s go try that. He gets on his skates, we see it, and we’re like, ‘Wow! The experience is so much more visceral when the camera is with you.’ The moves don’t look elegant and balletic when you’re up close: They look strong and fuckin’ fierce. And that’s how Tonya skated. So actually it’s so right for the film, and it was born out of the fact that we couldn’t afford a crane every day, or a jib arm every day.”
In the midst of all their early success, Robbie and Ackerley got married, everyone moved to Los Angeles, and LuckyChap commissioned its pink neon sign. Their workspace decor also includes a covered wagon, the kind pioneers once took West.
It’s kind of amazing, when you think about it, how much of our work life depends on our relationships with near-strangers. Decades ago, families and close friends would travel together to new lands, by wagon or boat or on horseback or foot. They started small enterprises together.
Some businesses got so big that they became stocked with people who barely knew each other. Employees came and went with no sense of friendship or loyalty, despite hollow corporate claims of We’re all family. Some colleagues’ friendships were strategic at best. Some became outright rivals. And some forgot their humanity so completely that they forgot respect, boundaries and basic decency.
Including in Hollywood.
In 2017, around the time I, Tonya arrived in theaters, a series of news stories made it clear that the entertainment industry had rampant, horrific problems with sexual discrimination and abuse.
Robbie became a prominent supporter of the Time’s Up movement, which calls for an end to sexual harassment and a commitment to gender equality.
LuckyChap was no longer just one of the handful of Hollywood production companies seeking better opportunities for women: Now it was part of a movement.
Also Read: Margot Robbie Talks Bombshell (Podcast)
Robbie also joined the cast of Bombshell, alongside Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, to tell the story of Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment at Fox News. In the most heartbreaking scene in the film, Ailes, played by John Lithgow, uses the promise of a television career to coerce Robbie’s character, a young Fox News employee named Kayla, into an appalling situation. The film dramatizes the history of harassment at Fox News, and echoes the criminal sense of entitlement that long pervaded Hollywood.
Robbie’s latest film, Birds of Prey, is a fun DC comic-book movie. But its full title, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, reveals its deeper motives: To liberate a female character who was once in the thrall of a selfish male villain, the Joker.
“It was about her breaking free, it was about her being her own person,” says Birds of Prey writer Christina Hodson. “She was a character who was sort of born out of other characters. She was always ‘Joker’s girlfriend.’ And to me she’s such a deep, rich, fascinating character.”
LuckyChap is partnering with Warner Bros. on Birds of Prey, its biggest-budgeted film to date. (It’s estimated at $75 million.) The film is the first of three female-fronted comic-book films scheduled for 2020, the others being Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984. All three have female directors. If nothing else, Hollywood has made strides in gender equality this year when it comes to comic-book movies, a genre that rules the box office.
But Birds of Prey was only the first collaboration between LuckyChap and Hodson.
“When Times Up was kind of just beginning, before it was launched, I started looking at some of the statistics,” says Hodson. “The numbers were shockingly bad.”