The Aussie actor turned Leonardo DiCaprio's head in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Now she's chasing an Oscar. Her recipe for success? Study, steal, and take up strange hobbies.

Margot Robbie began her acting career in her native Australia - yes, there was the obligatory stint in Neighbours - but found fame on Hollywood's golden streets after slapping Leonardo DiCaprio in an audition that secured her a lead role in 2013's The Wolf Of Wall Street. But it's in this month's I, Tonya, a darkly funny biopic of Tonya Harding - the former figure skater who was banned for life from the sport in 1994 for her complicity in an assault on fellow US team member Nancy Kerrigan - that we get to see the true extent of her talents.

You burst onto the scene by Leonardo DiCaprio's side in The Wolf Of Wall Street, and now I, Tonya has put you in the running for an Oscar. What's the secret of your success?
I had big dreams, and I laid out plans to achieve them. I work a lot and I prepare a lot. I just can't show up for work thinking, "I'll wing it, I'll figure it out on the day." I never want to assume I know everything there is to know.

So humility is key?
I just constantly try to keep learning. If I hear about
an acting technique that
I wasn't aware of, I'll sign up for a course in it. I read articles and study other people's work.

Does knowing your craft guarantee success in Hollywood?

No. I also had to build a great team around me. And I have to be business-minded as well. One of the things I'm most proud of is that I'm one of the youngest female producers with a producing deal at a major studio. [In 2017, her production company LuckyChap Entertainment announced the signing of a two-year deal with Warner Bros TV.]

Were you born with business sense?

Yes, actually. I've had it ever since I was a kid. As soon
as I was able to talk, I was putting on performances.
I'd invent magic tricks and then make my family pay
to come and see my shows. And once I had got them sucked into it, I would make them pay to find out how the trick was done.

That's devious...
I even used to steal my brother's toys and then go and sell them on the side of the road. Originally I never thought I would go into acting - I wanted to be a magician and own hotels.
Does your desire to acquire new skills cross over into your private life, too?
Yes, I always discover new little hobbies. Two years ago I was fascinated by trapeze, so I took up trapeze lessons. Then I became fascinated by tattoos, so I started tattooing my friends.

What's next on the agenda for 2018?

This year, I want to learn the banjo. Maybe that will be my next passion.

Are you worried you might become a jack of all trades, but master of none?

Let's see. I wasn't that bad
at trapeze. I'm terrible at tattooing, which is why a lot of my friends now have awful tattoos. But that's not the point. I just enjoy what I like.

If there was one thing you could excel at, what would you choose?

What I want to achieve most of all is to remain in this industry. I want longevity and I want quality.

Which also requires figure- skating skills in the case of I, Tonya...

All I can say is: bumps, bruises and blisters. And I herniated a disc in my neck. But it was all worth it in the end.

I, Tonya is in cinemas from February 23.