When we think of hit Margot Robbie movies, one that may not come to mind is Mary Queen of Scots. Believe it or not, the 2018 historical drama is now the #2 most-watched film so far this year on IMDB Movies free streaming service. You can check it out on IMDB Movie’s free streaming service here.
Mary Queen of Scots is based on the 2004 biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy and tells the true story of Mary, Queen of Scots (Margot Robbie) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Saoirse Ronan), detailing the 1569 conflict that arose between the two countries.
In Mary Queen of Scots, Margot Robbie plays Queen Elizabeth I, cousin to Saoirse Ronan’s Mary. The tale is about power, religion, corruption, and murder, pretty much everything one would expect from royalty in the 16th century.
Mary Stuart is the 19-year-old Catholic Queen of Scotland, a position she was crowned at the ripe old age of nine months. Elizabeth is her 28-year-old Protestant Queen cousin who is at odds with Mary, feeling threatened by Mary’s potential claim to her throne. When Mary dismisses John Knox, a Protestant cleric, and leader of the Scottish Reformation, Knox immediately calls Mary a danger.
In an effort to weaken Mary’s claim, Elizabeth arranged for Mary to be married to an Englishman, Robert Dudley, even though Dudley and Elizabeth were secret lovers. Both he and Mary are not willing to tie the knot, but the word of Elizabeth getting smallpox convinces Mary she should. But Elizabeth is now reluctant to let go of Dudley, so instead she Lord Darnley.
Even though Margot Robbie’s Mary feels there is more to Lord Darnley than he isn’t telling, she begins to grow fond of him and eventually accepts his proposal. It isn’t long after the two are married that Mary finds Darnley in bed with David Rizzio, Mary’s private secretary and friend.
Royal plots and intrigue follow. Rumors are spread concerning Mary’s pregnancy, saying that Rizzio is the father. All this was in an effort to weaken Mary’s hold on the throne. Rizzio is murdered in order to hide Darnley’s homosexuality. Margot Robbie’s Mary also finds out that Darnley was secretly trying to gain more power while helping to weaken her rule. Mary banishes Darnley, though refuses to divorce him, which leads to his assassination.
In what even seems crazy for 16th-century royalty, Darnley’s killer, the Earl of Bothwell, convinces Margot Robbie’s Mary that she is to marry him. She resists. Bothwell threatens then rapes Mary, after which she consents to their marriage.
All this time, Elizabeth continues to work against Margot Robbie’s Mary. When Mary finally abdicates her throne, she secretly meets with Elizabeth where Elizabeth places her under house arrest. Elizabeth then receives evidence that Mary was conspiring with Elizabeth’s enemies to have her assassinated, so Elizabeth orders Mary to be executed.
Obviously, there is a lot to unpack in this movie. First off, this is a biography, but it is a Hollywood biography. Details of Mary and Elizabeth’s real-life have been altered for dramatic purposes. But what remains intact is the royal intrigue, the backstabbing, the jealousy, and the eventual execution of Margot Robbie’s Mary, Queen of Scots.
Though the movie received mixed critical reviews, it was noted for the performances by both Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan. For her performance as Queen Elizabeth, Margot Robbie earned both SAG Award and BAFTA Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
It was mainly historians who took umbrage with the Margot Robbie movie’s historical inaccuracies. For instance, many were quick to point out that in real life, the only sources of communication between both Mary and Elizabeth were said to be by letters. It is also said that even though they did in the film, the two Queens were never thought to have met in person.
Be that as it may, Mary Queen of Scots was a solid hit for Margot Robbie. It came well after (five years) Robbie opened eyes literally with her sexy performance in The Wolf of Wall Street opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. From that eye-opener, Margot Robbie then went on to such films as Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Legend of Tarzan, I, Tonya, and Goodbye, Christopher Robin.
Of course, Margot Robbie is probably best known as playing the Joker’s leading lady, Harley Quinn. It’s a role that Robbie has performed a few times now, the first in Suicide Squad, then in Birds of Prey, and finally in the upcoming reboot The Suicide Squad. It is also heavily rumored that Robbie will play Harley Quinn not once, but two more times. One in a Joker/Harley Quinn movie and the other in Gotham City Sirens.
While historians question the lack of accuracy director Josie Rourke and writer Beau Willimon took on their film, the performance by Margot Robbie, as well as Saoirse Ronan’s, is well worth taking a peek at the movie.