Margot Robbie is going from strength to strength. After a sweet performance in Goodbye Christopher Robin, she is now starring in ice skating drama I, Tonya.
I, Tonya tells the true story of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, whose career became notorious after fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was viciously attacked in the weeks leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics.
With her icy blonde beauty and genuine talent for playing complicated women, its a dead cert Margot’s performance will make the film memorable.
However, a recent photoshoot with W Magazine has had fans asking questions.
Mainly, what is this go-to expression Margot opts for at any given occasion? Is there even a name for it?
"I didn’t want to sugarcoat her." Cover star @MargotRobbie goes against type to play notorious ice skater #TonyaHarding, someone who is the opposite of the bombshells she's played in the past, in the new biopic, "I, Tonya." Click the link in our bio to read more. Photo by @craigmcdeanstudio, styled by @themelanieward.
Smokey eyes looking directly down with a serious yet sultry stare, lips parted to reveal exactly two perfect teeth and a slight chin tilt. And always the same knowing expression..
As one of the most glamorous and accomplished actresses of her generation, she has earned the right to stick her tongue out in photoshoots should she so wish.
However, the similarities between the photographs of this often very expressive actress are intriguing…
Could this be Margot’s ‘Blue Steel’?!
According to a guide on Model’s Direct:
In almost every modelling assignment, photographers need their models to convey some kind of emotion through their facial expression or body position. …
Everything you feel is reflected in your face, and models need to be adept at projecting all the major emotions.
Make a list of key emotions (love, hate, sorrow, joy etc.) and practise expressing each emotion in front of a mirror.
After you have practised for a while, try out your skills on a friend and see if they can tell what emotion you are conveying.
But what emotion is Margot trying to convey?
Showing a ‘haughty’, unsmiling face in a fashion shoot is apparently nothing new, and has roots in centuries old aristocratic and royal portraiture.
According to an article in The Conversation by Vanessa Brown, senior lecturer in design and visual culture at Nottingham Trent University, this look suggests a certain status:
Fashion photography – think Horst P. Horst in the early to mid-20th century – has also long used the haughty look to suggest the status that the right clothes could bring to the wearer in a more socially mobile society.
Essentially, this look says: ‘I am better than you’, because it refuses to offer the open, smiling face of welcome that we conventionally use to engage someone we wish to interact with.
It also conveys the self-control, stiff upper lip and nonchalance of the European upper classes – ‘civilised’ qualities which the ‘jolly old working classes’ in those days supposedly found hard to convey.
Of course it’s highly unlikely the very pleasant seeming Margot Robbie has any such snobbish thoughts running through her head.
However, it’s interesting how such old fashioned values could be shaping such a modern and influential actress’ approach to photoshoots.
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I, Tonya is released in the UK on February 16, 2018.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.