Margot Robbie is living the American Dream.
In her acceptance speech for G’Day USA’s excellence in film award on Saturday night, the Australian actress revealed the recent revelation she had when a journalist described how Robbie and former figure skater Tonya Harding, who Robbie plays in “I, Tonya,” as pursing similar dreams.
“I moved to America seeking more opportunities, I bought a house here, I started a business here, I had found prosperity and success in this country,” the “I, Tonya” star said. “I’m sure many Aussies in the room know that in school we’re taught that Australia is the lucky country, and it is… but we’re also taught that the United States of America is the land of opportunity, and I’ve always thought if it that way.”
“As a girl from the lucky country living in the land of opportunity, I can say with absolute certainty, when you have opportunity collide with luck, incredible things can happen. This award is one of those things, this whole week has been one of those incredible things,” Robbie added, referencing the best actress Oscar nomination she scored on Tuesday for her portrayal of Harding. Amy Adams presented Robbie with the honor, along with congratulatory videos sent in from her “I, Tonya” costars Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan.
Also recognized at the 15th annual G’Day USA gala, which honors Australian influence in Hollywood, were Heath Ledger, “Big Little Lies” producer Bruna Papandrea, and “Grease” songwriter John Farrar. Held in downtown Los Angeles at the Intercontinental Hotel, the event included a tribute for the 40th anniversary of “Grease,” as well as appearances by Adams, Colin Farrell, Isla Fisher, Rose Byrne, Rebel Wilson, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.
Papandrea, who has also produced “Gone Girl” and “Wild,” said in her speech for the achievement in film and television award, said she has an easy answer when she’s asked about the highlight of her career as a producer to date.
“The first was standing at the top of the snowy mountain with my new dear friend Cheryl Strayed, while I watched Reese play her in the amazing movie ‘Wild,’ ” she said. “And the second was having the brilliant Australian [‘Big Little Lies’] writer Liane Moriarty entrust us with her incredible book and being smart enough to team up with the amazing people at HBO.”
After expressing excitement for season 2 of “Big Little Lies” on the red carpet, which will feature Meryl Streep and new director Andrea Arnold, the producer said she has made a commitment “that any woman can tell any story she wants, behind or in front of the camera” with her production company. Actress Isla Fisher presented Papandrea with the award — after needling her about not casting her in “Big Little Lies.” Actors Shailene Woodley and Naomi Watts and director Jean-Marc Vallee, who helmed “Wild” and “Big Little Lies” season one, sent their support with video messages.
To mark the tenth anniversary of his death, actor Heath Ledger was honored with the lifetime achievement award, presented by friend Farrell and accepted by his father.
Farrell said the two started in Hollywood at around the same time, describing him as “magic, all the good you’ve heard about him through the years, all the beauty of his spirit you’ve seen represented in the work that he’s given the world is all true. You couldn’t spend an hour in his company and not feel better about life.”
Byrne, who, along with Wilson, presented scholarships to the Australian Theatre for Young People, told Variety that she had also started her career with Ledger, saying, “when we were 18, 19, we did a really great little Aussie film called ‘Two Hands’ and he was incredibly generous to me. When we were in our early 20s we were all over here in LA hustling and he was very generous, his family is terrific so I’m thrilled their honoring him here. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, he was a beautiful soul.”
In honor of Farrar, who penned “Grease” hits “You’re the One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” Delta Goodrem and group Human Nature performed renditions of the songs, joined on stage at one point by Newton-John. Farrar was recognized with the outstanding contribution to the arts award.
Among the other attendees were NASA legend Buzz Aldrin and Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International.