The Life and Times of Harley Quinn With Her Creator, Margot Robbie and Every Actress Who’s Played Her

Margot Robbie may have been critically lauded for her role as Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell, but if you’re looking for a portrayal that brings her pure joy, look no further than “Harley Frickin’ Quinn.” Talk about an actor connecting instantly with a character, as that’s certainly what happened with Margot back in 2016 when she played her for the first time in Suicide Squad. Now, she’s back with Birds of Prey (and the Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).

That emancipation comes from the fact that Harley is no longer in her abusive relationship with Mr. J (known to the rest of the world as the Joker) and is now striking out on her own. Of course, being Harley, she doesn’t quite get the idea of truly being on her own: she’s teaming up with superheroes Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), as well as cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), to save a young girl targeted by Gotham City villain Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a.k.a. Black Mask. So is Harley villain, hero, something in between or just nuts? You decide (though we’re leaning towards the latter).

Birds of Prey Poster
Warner Bros

“The most exciting thing for an actor is to have choices with your character, and you can really do anything when you’re playing Harley Quinn,” enthuses Margot. “With some roles, you can react one or two ways. With Harley, it’s more like 20 and every one of them makes sense for the character. That is really liberating and creatively stimulating.”

“And Birds of Prey,” she continues, “is a wild ride. I think we wanted people to get a taste of what life could be like when you see it from Harley’s point of view. And when you watch this film, that’s what you’re getting: It’s unpredictable and it’s out of order and it’s messy and it’s funny and it’s dangerous and it’s violent and it’s absurd and it’s heartbreaking and it’s heartwarming. It’s a bit of everything, which is kind of like the character.”

When it comes to that character, it’s likely the vast majority of the mainstream audience believes she was born whole cloth in Suicide Squad, but the truth is that her origins stretch back nearly 30 years to a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Contributing writer Paul Dini was looking to bring something fresh to the table when it came to the character of the Joker (voiced by Star Wars actor Mark Hamill).

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Warner Bros

“I wanted to broaden the Joker’s gang a little bit,” Paul Dini tells Closer Weekly in an exclusive interview. “I was just a freelance writer and I came up with this idea for a grim Joker story where he tortures an ordinary man, just to show that his cruelty and his cutting and warped sense of humor applies to more people than just Batman. If you can tie all that into Batman, that’s fine. That doubles the joke for him. But in that story we started off on such a scary note with this traffic accident where this guy speaks up for the first time in his life and he realizes he’s speaking up to the Joker. You know it’s, like, ‘Oh my God, I told off a psychotic master villain who’s now targeted me. How did I get into this?”

For much more on Harley Quinn — and to meet every actress who has played her — please scroll down.