Margot Robbie and Jake Gyllenhaal on separating fame from their personal lives

Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Stronger”) sat down for a chat for Variety’sActors on Actors” presented by Google Home, which airs Jan. 2 to Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal KOCE.

Margot Robbie: You’ve been in the business a lot longer than I have. Your first job was when you were 11?

Jake Gyllenhaal: Eleven.

Robbie: Was there a conscious choice to become an actor? If no one in your family was in the business, do you think you would have found your way into the business anyway? Or do you ever wonder what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing this?

Gyllenhaal: Absolutely. You ask those questions at different times. But I think that it’s this crazy blessing that is really a lot about luck, and that makes me feel very grateful. But being around this business my whole life, I think there are a lot of aspects that feel like family. I think we all come to this space one way or another to find different families. It’s interesting in thinking about these two characters [Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman]: They were both kind of thrust into the spotlight in a particular way — for your character, because of her choice and then also because of the event that happened.

Robbie: Something [Tonya] asked me about when we met, she said, “How are you dealing with fame and being famous?” And actually, it was very kind of her to ask. Because to be honest, her situation was horrible, and it happened to her so young, and I think what made the biggest difference in the world was she didn’t have a support network around her. And I do, and I’m so lucky. I didn’t start working professionally until I finished high school. I had a very clear bookend from my childhood to my adulthood — from my life outside of the film business and my life inside.

Gyllenhaal: You have always been very clear about that. Separating those two.

20 PHOTOS
Jake Gyllenhaal through the years
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Jake Gyllenhaal through the years
Credit: Weinstein Company via ETOnline
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Jake Gyllenhaal attends the meet & greet for the Manhattan Theatre Club production of 'Constellations' at the MCC Rehearsal Studios on November 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is seen on November 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by SBN/Star Max/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal arrives at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 8, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends day one of Variety Studio: Actors On Actors presented by Samsung Galaxy on November 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Jake Gyllenhaal attends AOL's BUILD Speaker Series: Jake Gyllenhaal Discusses His New Film 'Nightcrawler' at AOL Studios In New York on November 3, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: Jake Gyllenhaal is seen filming 'Demolition' in Hudson River Park on October 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0151 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays 'Water Wars' with host Jimmy Fallon on October 29, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0151 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays 'Water Wars' with host Jimmy Fallon on October 29, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: Jake Gyllenhaal and director Jean-Marc Vallee are seen filming 'Demolition' in Hudson River Park on October 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the 'Nightcrawler' New York Premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on October 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: [EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been digitally processed] Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Jake Gyllenhaal attends Annual Charity Day Hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (L) and director Jean-Marc Vallee attend the HFPA & InStyle's 2014 TIFF celebration at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival at Windsor Arms Hotel on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05: Jake Gyllenhaal at the 'Nightcrawler' Press Conference at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel on September 5, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)
Jake Gyllenhaal Promotes 'Brokeback Mountain' At The 62Nd Venice Film Festival. (Photo by Justin Goff\UK Press via Getty Images)
Scarlett Johansson and Jake Gyllenhaal during 2004 MTV Movie Awards - Backstage and Audience at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ted Danson and Jake Gyllenhaal during Oceana's 2004 Partners Awards Gala - Arrivals at The Escuire House in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal during 'Jarhead' New York City Premiere - Inside Arrivals at Ziegfeld's in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
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Robbie: It’s bittersweet living outside of Australia, because I miss everyone so much, but the fact that they are so removed from it helps me keep my life and my work separate — even though they are intrinsically linked, because all I want to do is work all the time. But becoming famous at [Tonya’s] age without a support network around her, and without a clear distinction, I think would have been incredibly difficult.

Gyllenhaal: I think that’s true. I learned from Jeff that he didn’t ask for those things — he didn’t ask for the attention and to become that thing, but he has slowly evolved into being able to hold that idea for people.

Robbie: I was in tears in the moment when he’s at the Red Sox game and you can just see that he suddenly realizes the responsibility he has and the positive impact he can have on the people around him by just listening to their story and shaking their hand. And I was bawling by that part.

Gyllenhaal: Thank you. That’s really sweet of you to say. I think that movies can bring joy. And that’s what I feel Jeff showed me, is his spirit, when you get touched by him, or you’re around him, or you know if he were here, you’d feel so happy to be alive. Also he has such a great sense of humor and makes all my petty crap seem like petty crap. I think he always just puts it in perspective for me.

18 PHOTOS
Margot Robbie through the years
See Gallery
Margot Robbie through the years
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Margot Robbie is seen goint to Met Gala on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Team GT/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Margot Robbie arrives for the 'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 12: Actress Margot Robbie attends Warner Bros. Pictures' 'The Big Picture,' an exclusive presentation highlighting the summer of 2016 and beyond at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 12: Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsgard attend the CinemaCon 2016 - Warner Bros. Pictures 'The Big Picture,' An Exclusive Presentation Highlighting The Summer Of 2016 And Beyond held at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Actors Will Smith (L) and Margot Robbie attend the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 9, 2016 in Burbank, California. MTV Movie Awards airs April 10, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for MTV)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: Actress Margot Robbie attends the 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' world premiere - Arrivals at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on March 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 01: Margot Robbie attends the 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' world premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on March 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Margot Robbie poses in the press room during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Margot Robbie attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: Actress Margot Robbie attends the Calvin Klein Collection Fall 2016 fashion show during New York Fashion Week at Spring Studios on February 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Margot Robbie is Seen Around Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week shows on September 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 06: Margot Robbie attends British Airways celebration of the launch of its new Boing 787-9 Dreamliner on its daily London-Abu Dhabi-Muscat service. British Airways hosts a secret island party with Australian actress Margot Robbie, Hollywood star Orlando Bloom and a surprise live performance from chart star and judge of TV's The Voice, Jessie J. at Zaya Nurai Island on November 6, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Wouter Kingma/Getty Images for British Airways)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Actress Margot Robbie attends the annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actress Margot Robbie attends the Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Focus' premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 26: Margot Robbie attends the Arizona Coyotes vs New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden on February 26, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0219 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Margot Robbie plays Beer Pong with host Jimmy Fallon on February 26, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actress Margot Robbie arrives at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures 'Focus' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
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Robbie: I feel like there are similarities in what we went through and that we were both playing real-life people in a situation that didn’t happen that long ago. And there’s obviously the added responsibility when you play a real-life person who’s still alive. How was it playing Jeff, and playing a real-life person, and just that story in general?

Gyllenhaal: It was a huge responsibility. I felt a pressure beyond a pressure I’ve ever felt in terms of playing a character because you’re, like you said, you know you want to do the situation the service that it deserves. You spent time with Tonya?

Robbie: Not the way I think you might have [with Jeff]. I actually wanted to keep a bit of distance. I knew that if I met her and liked her, I would never play this character properly. I would be sugarcoating her flaws; I’d be trying to justify the bad things that she may do or say in a situation. And I didn’t want to do that. So there was the character of Tonya, and then there was the person [whose story] I’m telling, and there’s the responsibility to do their story justice. It’s a weird thing to try and make something entertaining. And entertaining doesn’t always mean funny or happy.

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