Interview: Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki talk playing rabbits in Peter Rabbit and their stellar careers

Australia has been churning out some quality star power of late and two of those are actresses Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki. Robbie’s just recently riding a high after her portrayal of Tonya Harding in I,Tonya scored her a bunch of awards nominations. Whilst Debicki has recently been inducted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 and also the Cloverfield universe in The Cloverfield Paradox. But for both of them they’ve now busted their voice acting debut with the live action + CGI animated family feel good film Peter Rabbit.

Peter Rabbit is the new film adaptation of the classic Beatrix Potter tale of Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) the mischievous and rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into his neighbour Mr Thomas McGregor’s (played by Domhnall Gleeson) garden and vegetable patch. Along the way we meet Peter’s family, including his three sisters Flopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Mopsy (Margot Robbie) and Cotton Tail (Daisy Ridley) and his human friend Bea (Rose Byrne) and how eventually they can all share and come together as a family.

For both Robbie and Debicki this is their first foray into voice over acting and animation and their first time playing rabbits. For Robbie she has gone from the wife of a con man, a hustler, a comic book character, to an ice skating legend and now a CGI rabbit. As Robbie puts it jokingly “It’s a natural progression I think and exactly what I was expecting to happen with my career. Really ticking them off the list and really happy to be a part of it all.
Debicki has also been checking off a number of various roles and genres to her list, from heiress in The Man From U.N.C.L.E, to doctor in The Kettering Incident, queen of an alien race in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 and astronaut scientist in The Cloverfield Paradox. Debicki is both coy and reluctant to put a trajectory on her forthcoming career plans and whether there’s a particular genre or role she would like to play “Hmmmm, no I can’t really tell you, I’ve been super lucky in my career and played a lot of different things I’ve absolutely no idea. I could never have said I would be playing a CGI rabbit five years ago.

The film leans heavily into themes about family and Debicki and Robbie play two of the three sisters in Peter Rabbit’s family, Mopsy and Flopsy. Debicki’s Mopsy is the eldest of the three (or so she claims), and likes to boss the other sisters around but a lot can be said for the trio and that although Peter is the hero, he wouldn’t get far without his sisterly sidekicks “His three sisters keep him in line, I am advocating a sister sequel but nobody has picked up on that yet, but they do have a good symbiotic family and they do complement each other. If I was going to name the sequel it would be “The Tale of Mopsy” and in really fine print at the bottom “along with Flopsy and Cotton Tail.”
Robbie in particular also shares a synergy with her character of Flopsy, even if her adorable lisp isn’t a shared trait, their similar family structure is “The fact that she’s one of four, I’m also one of four, she has a bit of middle child syndrome, I’m also one of the middle children in our family, they’re very close with their cousin Benjamin Bunny, I’m also close with my cousin, it weirdly mirrored my life and the dynamic weirdly mirrored my own upbringing.

Peter Rabbit is a special film for both these Aussies since the production is a collaboration with Australian visual effects powerhouse Animal Logic as well as having a lot of the film shot locally in Sydney courtesy of a Made In NSW government funding grant. For Robbie it’s extremely important to be a part of an Australian production and to be able to bring that film home to show off to local audiences “It’s so good, it’s good to be home and I always care most what Australia thinks of the work I’m doing. So I’m always tracking when the film I’m in is coming out in Australia and what everyone thinks and how everyone responded and whether anyone went to the movies to see it, since it’s my home country …. So everybody should go see it for the sake of not hurting my feelings!

And lastly we couldn’t help but ask Robbie about that infamous Dundee / Tourism Australia commercial and whether or not there was any chance of it becoming a reality. “Dundee the film that never was, I know, I’m honestly maybe going to contact Paul Hogan himself and just be like can we actually make this now? Honestly I would definitely invest in it.”

Peter Rabbit will screen in Australian cinemas from 22 March 2018 through Sony Pictures Releasing