Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan seem to effortlessly check all the movie star boxes: Megawatt charm? Check (those smiles!). Actor clout? No problem (having Martin Scorsese and Ryan Coogler launch their respective careers can’t hurt). Lucrative blockbuster movie franchises? Yep, that too (Robbie in Suicide Squad and Jordan in Creed, with a memorable detour into Wakanda). So, as it turns out, they have a lot to talk about—and not just about fame and their good fortune. Here, as part of our annual Best Performances portfolio, Robbie, who starred in the recent palace-intrigue period drama Mary Queen of Scots, and Jordan, who returned in Creed 2 and dominated the screen in Black Panther this year, sit down with W‘s Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg to share not only how it is they make morally questionable villains like Harley Quinn and Killmonger into magnetic antiheroes, but also their totally embarrassing early email addresses, their most memorable red carpet fashion faux pas, and their frankly amazing first kiss stories.
So Michael, what’s the first album you ever bought?
Michael B. Jordan: First album? Ah, man, that’s a good one.
Margot Robbie: Oh, that is a good one.
Jordan: I want to say, on cassette tape… um, Usher’s My Way.
Robbie: That’s a good answer.
Jordan: You’re taking me back. I want to say I rode my bike to the music store that was, like, down the street.
What was the first album you ever bought, Margot?
Robbie: I think the first album I bought was, um, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow. I was in a bit of a heavy metal phase. But I think the first single I bought was Blink 182, “All the Small Things.”
Jordan: Okay. So the heavy metal. Are you still in that phase or did you pass that?
Have you ever gone through a heavy metal phase, Michael?
Jordan: I have not.
Jordan: But electric guitar solos are my thing. Like, I love, the Ernie Isleys of the world, the “Who’s That Lady” solo is pretty incredible. [Michael Jackson’s] “Dirty Diana” is pretty good.
Do you play air guitar?
Jordan: Air guitar? All day. [Laughs.]
Robbie: I can air guitar. That’s about the extent of my musical prowess, really.
Michael, did you box before Creed?
Jordan: I never officially boxed but karate, martial arts, and stuff like that. And then I kinda segued into boxing.
And you, Margot, have you ever boxed?
Robbie: I’ve done a bit of boxing, yeah—mainly to prepare for fight training, like stunt work. And I really, really like it. I have stupidly long arms, like, they’re too long for my body. So actually it’s kind of good when you’re boxing.
Jordan: The reach is incredible.
Robbie: An extra long reach. And it looks good on camera. Having long limbs on camera makes your punches—
Jordan: Your punch is a little wider, yeah, yeah, yeah. She knows what she’s talking about.
What I love about both of your performances in different movies is that although you kind of play superheroes in both Suicide Squad and in Black Panther, you’re also kind of antiheroes at the same time. There’s a kind of dichotomy to the characters.
Robbie: A lovable rogue.
Jordan: That’s right. I like that. I mean, those are the most interesting characters to me sometimes, like when I’m watching films that, on screen, are the ones that you can empathize with. Like, they want you to root against ’em. They want you to not like them. But somehow you can still understand where they’re coming from and that’s important.
Do you have a favorite villain? Other than Killmonger.
Jordan: Yeah, because he’s tough. I mean, honestly, it’s between [Michael] Fassbender’s Magneto and Heath Ledger’s Joker. Honestly. Those two are pretty up there for me. [To Robbie] What about you?
Robbie: I’m totally stealing someone else’s answer. I’ve heard someone else say this, but I do truly think this is a genius villain: HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Jordan: Ohhh. Man.
Robbie: It’s just such a cool villain. That was genius.
But it is also kind of weirdly sympathetic.
Robbie: Totally. The best villains are sympathetic.
With both these characters, you act with very little clothing on. Is it difficult to act when you are basically naked?
Robbie: Uh …
Jordan: I’m always naked, actually.
Robbie: Honestly, for me, as Harley at least, the more skin showing the longer it takes in hair and makeup ’cause she’s got, you know, white skin and a million tattoos. So if anything outside, god, the scenes where I don’t even have the jacket on, that’s an extra 20 minutes in the makeup trailer.
Jordan: Yeah, same here. Killmonger, all the scars and stuff like that, the makeup, it took a long time to put the prosthetics on.
Robbie: Yeah, you want to be more covered up.
So, Michael, what was the very first thing you ever auditioned for?
Robbie: Hmm. I’m trying to think of the first thing I auditioned for.
Let’s say the one you got.
Jordan: The Sopranos. I don’t know what season it was, but Tony [Soprano] was having a flashback. And I played a bully in his childhood who bullied him on the boardwalk on his way home one day.
Jordan: Yeah, I was Bully #2, I think.
Was it a speaking role?
Jordan: It was, but we were just yelling shit at him. I don’t know. I was improv-ing, actually. I was living in the moment—
Robbie: (Laughs.) I was so present—
Jordan: I was…
Robbie: —that I now can’t remember.
Jordan: … locked into Bully #2.
Might as well hand Apple a shovel, because with 2018’s iPhone XS, XR and XS Max, the trillion-dollar iPhone-maker has dug itself into a hole. Puzzle through this with me: what comes after iPhone XS and XR?
It might be tempting to discount phone names as trivial, but they’re actually important tools for brands to entice buyers and convey certain values and characteristics about the brand. iPhone X, good. iPhone XYZ or iPhone XX, bad. And if you need more convincing, consult this gallery of 30 worst phone names below.
For Apple specifically, the “X” is an important shift because it represents Apple’s rebranded iPhone line with ultraslim bezels, secure infrared face unlock technology and no home button. The X brand is a pricier lineup than before, and it’s easing you into paying more for your phone.
Part of the problem is that the iPhone “X” name is already confusing. It looks one way, but sounds another — “ten” instead of “ex.” That’s all right when it’s just the iPhone X you’re looking at. But when you combine it with an S, an R and an S Max, my guess is that nine people out of 10 will call them the “excess,” “ex are” and “excess max.” See? Confusing.
The trouble began in 2017 when Apple skipped over the iPhone 9 to release two 8s and a “10,” its tenth-anniversary phone. But in so naming the iPhone X — and following it up with three more “X” phones in 2018 — Apple has created a ripple effect that makes me wonder what the plan is next.
Apple could follow up the iPhone XS — where “S” indicates a minor upgrade — with the iPhone 11. Or is that the iPhone XI? Would that make 2020’s phone the iPhone XIS? No way; what a horror show.
Well, what about simply calling it the “iPhone X (2020)”? Apple has done this before with iPads and MacBooks and although we don’t like it, we’ve learned to accept it, even if it does create mass confusion. (“Which iPhone do you have?” “Uh, the iPhone?”)
Apple could also just carry on with its maddeningly illogical new naming convention. Perhaps 2019 will bring us the iPhone XRS or the iPhone X2. But then would the following year beget the iPhone X2S? (What does the R in iPhone XR mean anyway…”reduced”?)
Read also: Why your iPhone is getting more expensive
So what logically comes after the iPhone XS, the linchpin of the new iPhone X family?
His interview tried to diminish the actor’s critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of his own words, ‘The Fosters’ and ‘Good Trouble’ writer Kris Rehl writes for The Hollywood Reporter.
Watching Kevin Hart’s interview on The Ellen Degeneres Show, I was shocked to see Ellen throw her weight behind his self-victimization. How could this saga go on without Hart taking any real responsibility? “It’s tough for me because it was an attack, a malicious attack on my character, to end me,” Hart said.
When I was a freshman at NYU, a straight guy who lived in my dorm called me a faggot. When I told him he couldn’t talk to me like that, he physically assaulted me, a few steps from my front door. That was a malicious attack. I was 18, alone and spiraled into depression.
It’s hard to sympathize with Hart playing the victim of outrage when he contributed to this culture of violence toward gay men. I’m glad he has grown and stopped using that slur, but his decade-old tweets reached a larger audience when he was offered the Oscar hosting gig. He keeps referencing an old apology that most people haven’t seen, and his fans continue to defend this homophobia, making it even more important that he use larger platforms like going on Ellen to denounce the type of violence he “joked” about inflicting on his potentially gay son. It’s now his responsibility (and, by extension, Ellen’s) to make sure his fan base understands the deeply rooted effects of homophobia in our culture. If Hart has grown like he claims, it’s time for him to listen, learn and speak out.
I believe in the power of television — it’s changed my life, and it’s why I’m a writer. A 2015 Variety survey showed that The Ellen Degeneres Show was more influential in changing audiences’ minds about same-sex marriage than any other media. But Ellen, for all the good she’s accomplished for the gay community, is not our spokesperson.
She also isn’t a gay man, the group that Hart’s violent jokes targeted. Only three days ago, I was walking through Griffith Park with my boyfriend when a man got off a bus, saw us, and screamed “fag” at us multiple times. So I was incredibly disappointed with how Ellen advocated for Hart, diminishing his critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of Hart’s words, the people they’ve emboldened and the ones they affect.
So much of Hollywood, even trailblazers like Ellen, can be quick to brush queer people aside. It’s not OK to be openly homophobic like it used to be, but the overwhelming majority of gay actors still can’t come out until after they make it. Every June, studios trot out their floats at Pride as a show of strong allyship despite featuring next to no LGBTQ characters in their major releases. Every gay writer I know has a story where they’ve been told their script or pitch is “too gay.” Homophobia may now be closeted here in Hollywood, but it’s something that queer people have to deal with every day.
I’m not sure how the Academy could honor a movie about conversion therapy and homophobia at their ceremony this year when their host refuses to acknowledge his complicity in that same discriminatory culture. But if Hart doesn’t make things right, I would like to nominate Billy Porter or RuPaul or A Star Is Born’s Shangela to host, because representation matters.