‘Barbie’ star Margot Robbie says selling her own alcohol brand was easier than selling her $1.4 billion movie idea

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Considering the mania and absolute obsession over the Barbie movie last summer, one might guess it was an easy sell to Hollywood studios. Wrong. 

“Movies are a crazy business where you are selling something that isn’t tangible, it’s an idea,” Margot Robbie, the illustrious Australian actress who played Barbie in the beloved movie that made a whopping $1.4 billion at box offices, told The Times. “You have no idea how much it’s going to make, who’s going to see it, if they’ll see it or how it will be received.”

What’s been more of a sure thing for Robbie is the recent launch of her gin brand Papa Salt, which was inspired by her many nights out clubbing in London’s Clapham neighborhood. 

“This feels a lot more straightforward, it’s easier to predict things,” Robbie said of getting into the alcohol business. “You can lay this out on a spreadsheet in a way that you can’t lay out a movie idea.”

In other words, it’s much more tangible to sell a product than an idea, and she has a team of friends—Charlie Maas and Regan Riskas as well as her husband Tom Ackerley—in business with her. 

The idea for the subtly flavored gin goes all the way back to when Robbie would pack vanilla tea bags in her purse during her nights out at Infernos, a nightclub frequented by her and “thousands of other Aussie Londoners,” she told The Times. Gin and tonics were her go-to drink, but that doesn’t mean they always tasted good. 

“If you pop one into a terrible G&T, it suddenly tastes great. My handbag would be littered with them,” she recalled. “I’d buy a round and then just hand [out the tea bags].”

Robbie and her fellow Papa Salt cofounders were on a mission to make a gin that could “complement any soda, taste great with tonic, and make a mean martini,” according to the company’s website. It took them 59 recipes to get there, but now they’re selling an “easy-drinking gin that celebrates the subtle taste of native Australian botanicals,” such as zesty wax flower, hibiscus, and citrus peel. Nutty wattleseed (an edible seed from Australia), pink peppercorn, and oyster shell are also complementing flavors. 

While it was easier to sell an idea for a gin brand than a movie, that didn’t mean it was completely effortless to make a great-tasting alcohol. Robbie traveled to Australia to meet with Brian Restall, the owner of a wildly popular distiller there, and they got “absolutely sh***faced” together discussing the idea for the brand. But it didn’t take long for Restall to be sold on the idea, according to a Forbes Australia article.

How much Margot Robbie is worth

While Barbie undoubtedly smacked Robbie back into the spotlight last summer, she’s been in several other hit movies and TV shows. She got her start on Australian soap opera Neighbours, in which she appeared in more than 300 episodes. She played Jordan Belfort’s glamorous wife Naomi Lapaglia in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, which made nearly $407 million at box offices. She also stared as Jane Ported in The Legend of Tarzan and as Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad movies. 

But her big recognition came when she won an Academy Award for her role as Tonya Harding in the biopic I, Tonya, which landed her a role as Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots. She infamously, though, didn’t win an Academy Award for her performance in Barbie—and neither did producer Greta Gerwig in what’s been considered one of the biggest snubs in awards history. Barbie was the highest-grossing film of 2023, and in turn, Robbie brought home the biggest payday of any woman in Hollywood last year—$12.5 million. 

Robbie is worth an estimated $60 million, which includes proceeds from the films in which she’s starred as well as from LuckyChap Entertainment, a production company she started with her friends and husband. 

“There’s only so much you can do as an actor,” Robbie told Marie Claire Australia in 2023. “As a producer you get to be a part of the conversations about who is being hired and in what roles and how much they’re getting paid.”

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