In Warner Bros.’ Legend of Tarzan, prepare to meet Tarzan and Jane like you’ve never seen them before. Out of the wild and assimilated to English high society, the iconic lovers are living a tranquil life that they’re not too happy be in.
When the couple gets a chance to head back into the jungle to help unmask King Leopold who orchestrated slave trading, they’re thrust into a new adventure. What stands out the most is how, unlike previous incarnations, Margot Robbie’s Jane was a modern woman that identifies with more than the damsel-in-distress from stories that came before.
The Aussie Actress shared with us during an intimate round table that this was something very important to her from the start. When meeting with director David Yates, she shared that they creatively bounced ideas off each other to discover the Jane for this generation. “Our initial conversations were very much like, ‘Okay, how do we make this Jane relatable to a contemporary audience? How do we make her feel a bit more real and someone I can connect to?’” From the start of the film when he offers to go on the expedition without her, she refuses to stay home flat out and shows that he needs her there for her resourcefulness and knowledge of the places they will travel. Even when she gets kidnapped while they’re working with villagers to investigate who’s taking surrounding villagers captive, she doesn’t lament her situation. “I’m not going to sit there and just be like, ‘He’ll come for me. It’ll be great!’ It just seems stupid.”, she added about her take on the character.
While she’s held captive by King Leopold’s power hungry and corrupt convoy, who are set on delivering her husband to a tribe that wants him dead, she isn’t screaming for “Help” ever. We loved that! Robbie instead played the character as very calculating and aware of her surroundings. “If she’s really that intelligent, she’d be problem solving the whole time. So, even in scenes where the focus isn’t meant to be on her and there’s other things happening, in the background of the shot, I’m always actively trying to escape.” she said. “Even if it’s just like niggling at the guards or trying to kick someone towards the end of the movie. So, it worked on a comedic level, but it also worked for the intentions that she’s just always actively trying to get out of the situation as opposed to waiting for someone to come save her.”
With her tactics, it’s always about getting back to her husband to help aid in the effort to get information on Leopold’s plans. She even uses her captor’s dinner with her to her advantage to gather intel and try to make a break for it in order to provide her husband’s brawn with knowledge. “It makes sense that they both need something from each other, where Tarzan’s physically strong, she’s emotionally strong. Where she needs that from him where he–you know, they both need each other.” The film allowed for Jane to be seen as fiercely self-sufficient while still having her motivation to stand by her husband’s side because they worked as a team. “I don’t think being really in love with your husband makes you a weaker female character. If anything, I think it makes her seem stronger.”
Together Tarzan and Jane were great allies to the cause they’re invited to help out with and it’s seen in the first and final act. The drama of the film, however, is driven through showing their strengths and weaknesses while apart. “We spoke a lot about making her very independent and very capable. I think both of them are very capable when they’re apart, which we’re apart for a lot of the movie. But, we also spent a lot of time talking about how to make them also very dependent on each other because, at the heart of it, to me, it’s very much a love story.” So while she finds out through the overly sharing villain his plans, you become fascinated at how she turns her kidnap into a mission. So much more is at stake once she knows what’s going to happen and it becomes so much more important for her to get to Tarzan in time. To Robbie that was essential to the story, “If you don’t invest in that, then you don’t really invest in the outcome of the movie. And then you kind of lose your audience a bit.”
While yes, there is Alexander Skarsgard and his amazing abs to look at while he supports a cause with his strength and kinship with the wild, Tarzan also has an equally amazing woman at his side ready to join in the fight. They both save each other and love one another passionately which to Margot Robbie made her Jane very special, “I didn’t want to downplay the love aspect, but also did want to make sure that she was very capable and defiant and intelligent.”
Rated PG-13. In theaters Friday, July 1
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We were invited to the press event for Legend of Tarzan by Warner Bros. Pictures