Before being cast in The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie was anything but a household name.
Like with so many big break moments, it was a moment of bold improvisation from Robbie that blew away director Martin Scorsese during her audition for the role of Naomi Lapaglia.
Robbie has admitted in the past that she considered her audition largely unremarkable…with the exception of one significant moment.
And that moment has been reflected upon by Scorsese, who claims he knew Robbie was right for the part when she delivered a pronounced – and unplanned – slap to the face of co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
“She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face,” Scorsese recalled, as part of an interview for TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People issue.
“[It was] an improvisation that stunned us all."
Robbie’s own recollection of the incident – shared with Harper’s Bazaar last year – adds some more colour to Scorsese’s anecdote.
“In my head I was like, ‘You have literally 30 seconds left in this room and if you don't do something impressive nothing will ever come of it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, just take it,’” she said.
“And so I start screaming at him and he's yelling back at me. And he's really scary. I can barely keep up. And he ends it saying, "You should be happy to have a husband like me. Now get over here and kiss me." So I walk up really close to his face and then I'm like, "Maybe I should kiss him. When else am I ever going to get a chance to kiss Leo DiCaprio, ever?" But another part of my brain clicks and I just go, Whack! I hit him in the face. And then I scream, "Fuck you!" And that's not in the script at all. The room just went dead silent and I froze.
“I'm thinking, ‘You just hit Leonardo DiCaprio in the face. They're going to arrest you because that's assault. You're definitely never going to work again, that's for sure. They'll probably sue you as well in case there's a bruise on his face and he needs to film something else.’
“And then all of a sudden Marty and Leo just burst out laughing. Marty says, ‘That was great!’ Leo's like, ‘Hit me again!’”
It proved to be a breakthrough moment for the Australian, who was just 22 when The Wolf of Wall Street began filming.
The film earned five Oscar nominations, while Robbie herself parlayed the performance into roles in Suicide Squad, The Legend of Tarzan and more.
There aren’t too many circumstances when slapping a future colleague in what is essentially a job interview can be seen as a good or even legal idea (and, just to be clear, we’re not advising you try it), but if it doesn’t work for an audition for a Martin Scorsese film then it probably never will.