Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Margot Robbie played Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Reviews for the film itself were not great. In fact, the film received such poor reviews that fans even started petitions to have Suicide Squad’s Rotten Tomatoes score changed. While the film was panned, Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn was praised by most critics as the one shining part in an otherwise dull film. It’s hard to disagree with that, since Margot Robbie stole every single scene she was in. Yes, that may have been partially due to her booty shorts, but Margot Robbie did embrace the role of Harley Quinn 100%.
Still, there were the few critics and fans who were let down by the portrayal of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, claiming that the character was reduced to a psycho Barbie doll. But, then again, it’s hard to make everyone happy when you’re playing one of the most beloved DC characters of all time. I mean, you can probably even find some people who think Christian Bale was a horrible Batman. That's just the way it goes when you're playing a superhero character. Haters gonna hate.
Regardless of whether you found Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn to be spot on or annoyingly off-beat, it’s still fun to think about who, in a perfect world, should have played Harley Quinn. Below are 10 actresses who would have nailed playing Harley Quinn and been even better than, dare we say it, Margot Robbie. We also included five actresses who were thisclose to playing Harley Quinn. One actress was even offered the role and TURNED IT DOWN.
10 Should Have: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Back in the ‘90s and 2000s, Sarah Michelle Gellar was a fan favorite to play Harley Quinn. Her looks were part of it – her blonde hair and her slender, athletic physique – but it was her acting that really sealed the deal for fans.
While playing the title role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gellar’s performance was extremely multilayered. She was a badass, who killed demons left and right. She was also struggling with typical boyfriend issues, like if she should or shouldn’t call her vampire boyfriend (y'know the normal boy issues). And, the cherry on top was her quick wit. Her performance on Buffy The Vampire Slayer seemed to embody many of the things that fans loved about Harley Quinn. Then, Cruel Intentions came out and fans saw that Gellar could also handle the darker parts of Harley Quinn, the parts of Harley that are manipulative, obsessive, and desperate. Boom, perfect Harley Quinn!
Of course, the days of wanting Sarah Michelle Gellar to play Harley Quinn are long gone. Gellar is older now and pretty much out of the acting game. In a perfect world, though, Sarah Michelle Gellar would have been Harley Quinn in 2000 and all would be right with the world.
9 Should Have: Mena Suvari
Mena Suvari actually looks much more the part than Sarah Michelle Gellar. I mean, Mena Suvari is just so beautiful that her looks almost seem cartoonish to begin with.
What sold fans on the idea of Mena Suvari as Harley Quinn was her performance in American Beauty. In the film, Survari plays a teenage cheerleader, who becomes the fascination of Lester (Kevin Spacey). You remember, there was the scene where Suvari was naked and covered in rose petals...? In the film, Mena Suvari’s performance has echoes of Harley Quinn, as she’s raunchy, inappropriate, foul-mouthed, and, at her core, lonely.
Since American Beauty and American Pie launched Mena Suvari into fame, she’s bounced around a bit, but hasn’t done anything as noteworthy since. Because her star has fallen a bit, fans don’t talk about Mena Suvari in the role as much. But, in the ‘90s and early 2000s, she would have killed it.
Amanda Seyfried is our first "almost did" entry. That’s right, Amanda Seyfried was almost Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn.
Seyfried’s first big break was in 2004’s Mean Girls, in which she played a typical dumb blonde character. Then, Seyfried’s career took off when she starred alongside Meryl Streep in 2008’s Mamma Mia!, which became a surprise blockbuster hit. From there, though, Seyfried didn't go on to star in anything that would have propelled her fame to the next level. She's kind of just been... there.
Amanda Seyfried was considered for the role of Harley Quinn, but film executives went a different way, stating that they didn’t feel she was right for the role. Considering the fact that Seyfried often plays subdued, sweeter characters, it is hard to imagine her dominating the screen as Harley Quinn. She had the look down, but not the acting chops to fill out the role.
8 Should Have: Isla Fisher
Guys, Isla Fisher as Harley Quinn. I mean, Wedding Crashers could have straight-up counted as her audition for this role, right? We all remember the scene in which she told Vince Vaughn’s character to never leave her… because she’d find him. Isla Fisher clearly could have done the whole obsessive love thing, albeit a little more comic than the dark version that Harley’s love of the Joker usually takes on. Since then, Isla Fisher has proven herself to be a solid comedic actress so she'd easily be able to nail Harley's bubbly, funny moments. Not to mention the fact that Isla Fisher certainly has the body to play Harley Quinn. But, of course, at 41-years-old, Fisher is a bit too old to play Harley Quinn. (No offense, Isla Fisher. We still love you.)
Honorable Mention: At 44-years-old, Cameron Diaz is also too old to play Harley Quinn, but just imagine Cameron Diaz circa 1997 playing Harley Quinn. It could have been so good... like, so, so good.
There are quite a few fans who favored Emily Browning as Harley Quinn and it’s easy to see why. The 28-year-old previously starred in 2011’s Sucker Punch, in which she was basically playing Harley Quinn. Okay, she didn’t full-on play Harley Quinn, but she did have her blonde hair in pigtails and she did wear Harley Quinn-esque outfits throughout the film. Also considering the fact that Zack Snyder, director of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and the upcoming Justice League, directed Sucker Punch, many fans considered it a low-key audition tape for Emily Browning to play Harley Quinn.
Apparently film execs weren’t as sold on this idea of Emily Browning, because she didn’t nab the role of Harley Quinn. But, that may be for the best. It’s been said that Browning’s Babydoll character in Sucker Punch was nothing more than a Barbie doll male fantasy of a broken girl. Being that this is the same thing that some of the unfavorable reviews of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, it’s likely Browning would have brought that to her Harley Quinn performance as well.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead may not be a name everyone knows, but it seems likely that she will be one day. She was one of the actresses who was considered for the role of Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad, but there is actually no word on what happened there. Either film execs decided to go a different way or Winstead decided to pass up the opportunity. The idea of someone passing on playing Harley Quinn may seem crazy, but it totally does happen. In fact, one of the actresses on this list was actually offered the role of Harley Quinn and said no. Don't worry, we’ll get to that later.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead had quite a few things in her corner – she’s a great actress, she already starred in a comic book adaptation (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), and she’s appeared in many action and horror films which required stunts. While she didn’t appear in Suicide Squad, she did appear in 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, which was largely praised by critics. So hey, from that point of view, maybe being in 10 Cloverfield Lane instead of Suicide Squad was a better career move for Winstead.
7 Should Have: Juno Temple
Juno Temple is a 27-year-old actress who has slowly been taking Hollywood by storm. She started with small roles in critically acclaimed films like Atonement, Notes on a Scandal, and Greenberg. She then went on to play raunchy characters in both Dirty Girls and Afternoon Delight. Juno Temple’s seemingly biggest break was her role on HBO’s Vinyl, which was then cancelled after only one season. Regardless of Vinyl's cancellation, it seems that Hollywood cannot get enough of the special energy that Juno Temple brings to her roles. She brings that certain kind of spunk to each role she’s in, making it impossible to take your eyes off of her while she's on the screen - think Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. It's because of that quality that some fans believe Juno Temple would have made a great Harley Quinn.
Juno Temple had a very minor role in The Dark Knight Rises as a character named Jen, which made fans of Juno hopeful that it may lead to something else in the DC Universe (like, um, playing Harley Quinn), but it didn’t pan out that way.
We know it’s a bit a long shot, but follow us here.
Natalie Portman was most recently in Jackie, in which she played Jackie Kennedy, who was basically the classiest lady to ever live. So, your image of Portman right now may be that she plays prim and proper characters, but girlfriend can do much more than that. Let’s all think back to a little film called Black Swan, in which Natalie Portman played a psycho ballerina and won an Oscar for her performance. There was also 2004’s Closer, in which Portman played a stripper with a dark past. In Garden State, Portman played the epitome of the manic pixie dream girl. And, in 1994’s Leon: The Professional, Portman played a baby hit man. If you roll all these characters up - a psycho ballerina, a stripper with a dark past, a manic pixie dream girl, a baby hit man - you’ll find that Natalie Portman could totally play Harley Quinn. Bonus point to Portman, since she'd also play the character with a deep realism. You'd be able to count on Portman to bring Harley Quinn to the screen with all her many layers.
Of course, Natalie Portman reportedly hated being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it’s not likely that she’d ever be interested in taking on the role of Harley Quinn. But, hey, we can dream.
6 Almost Did: Zooey Deschanel
This one is a little but weird, but apparently Zooey Deschanel was considered for the role of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. Yes, you read that correctly. Film executives were in talks to cast Zooey Deschanel to play Harley Quinn. It just seems so... wrong. I mean, I love Zooey Deschanel just as much as the next person, but the 37-year-old actress would have been a very odd choice for Harley Quinn. Deschanel’s brand is all about her “adorkable” quality, aka being both dorky and adorable. While Harley Quinn can have her adorkable moments, that is not the overwhelming quality of her character.
The film executives clearly decided to go another way, which is good news. Zooey Deschanel isn’t doing too bad without Suicide Squad. She’s the star of New Girl, which is now in its 6th season. So, it seems like a win-win for everyone involved. Keep doing you, Zooey Deschanel.
5 Should Have: Brittany Murphy
By large, the Internet thinks that Brittany Murphy would have been the most perfect Harley Quinn and it's hard not to agree. I mean, just think about it for a moment. She would have been the best Harley Quinn ever. But, Brittany Murphy tragically died before she ever got the chance to play Harley Quinn.
Having passed away in 2009 at the young age of 32, Brittany Murphy’s film career was cut short but there are still a few film roles that do point to Murphy’s ability to play Harley Quinn. One of these roles was in 1999’s Girl, Interrupted, in which Murphy played a, errr, crazy person. She also plays someone who is mentally disturbed in Don’t Say a Word. With her ability to be funny, bubbly and convincingly play someone who is mentally disturbed, Brittany Murphy would have nailed Harley Quinn.
There are rumors that Brittany Murphy was in talks to play Harley Quinn, alongside Heath Ledger’s the Joker, in The Dark Knight Rises, but that rumor remains unconfirmed and both actors sadly passed away before filming. Many people believe Brittany Murphy would have brought the same dark energy to the Harley Quinn as Heath Ledger did to his Joker. Could you ever imagine a Brittany Murphy/Heath Ledger film?
4 Should Have: Rooney Mara
Rooney Mara is not someone you immediately think of to play Harley Quinn, but she could certainly do the job. At 31 years old, Rooney Mara is already one of the most acclaimed actresses of her generation, with two Academy Award nominations to prove it. While her face is classically beautiful and elegant, she is able to transform herself completely, as evident with her role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Seriously, Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a whole new side of Rooney Mara. In 2013’s Side Effects, Mara played a sexualized, manipulative, mentally disturbed character, which has lead some fans to think that she could pull off Harley Quinn. Plus, Mara's ability to fully embrace every single role would ensure that she would kill the role of Harley Quinn. However, Rooney Mara seems to almost always bring a quietly strong presence to the screen. She’d need to turn the volume way up to play Harley Quinn.
3 Should Have: Britney Spears
Do not throw your computer or phone threw the window because of this entry. Hear us out, because we promise that it makes sense.
Britney Spears would in no way, shape or form be able to bring all the layers of Harley Quinn in the screen. I mean, it’s Britney Spears. But, Britney’s performances in Crossroads, Will & Grace, and How I Met Your Mother weren't the absolute worst. She brings a light, bubbly nature to the screen. Her Harley would, for sure, be lacking many of the deep psychological layers that take Harley Quinn from caricature to fully realized character. That said, the real reason we’d like to see Britney as Harley Quinn is because of her music videos. One could argue that Britney has played a version of Harley Quinn in the music videos for "Toxic," "Oops!... I Did It Again," "Work Bitch," and "Womanizer."
Britney’s Harley Quinn wouldn’t be full of depth, but it would be about as much fun to watch as any of Britney’s music videos. There, that kind of made sense, right?
According to insiders, Imogen Poots was one of the early front-runners for Harley Quinn. At the end of the day though, Poots obviously lost out to Margot Robbie.
The 27-year-old actress has been acting for quite some time, with one of her earliest credits in 2005’s V for Vendetta. In 2014, her star got a bit brighter when she starred as Zac Efron’s love interest in That Awkward Moment. In 2015, Poots had a major turning point in her career with her role in Green Room, in which she plays a badass chick in a sticky situation with some Neo-Nazis. She embraced the grungy role, proving that she’s more than just the blonde love interest of Zac Efron.
Poots’ career will do just fine without the role of Harley Quinn, but she would have made a great Harley. It totally make sense that she was an early front-runner.
2 Should Have: Alison Brie
Alison Brie is one of those actresses who, if you’ve seen her work, you just love her. Brie has specifically had success on television, appearing as Trudy Campbell on Mad Men and Annie Edison on Community. Brie’s Community character is the major reason why many fans think she would nail Harley Quinn. She plays an A-type, who is, well, a little bit insane. As the valedictorian of her high school, she ended up at community college after a prescription pill addiction led to a public meltdown. Brie's ability to play a character who is both a straight A student and mentally unhinged means that she could encapsulate both the psychiatrist past of Harley Quinn as well as the chaotic spirit of the villain.
While Brie didn’t get the role of Harley Quinn, she’s set to star in Netflix’s Glow, a show about a group of women who perform for a wrestling organization. Since everyone loves Netflix original shows, it’s safe to say that this show is a great move for Brie’s career.
1 Almost Did: Emma Roberts
So, this might actually blow your mind, but Emma Roberts was offered the role of Harley Quinn. Yes, Emma Roberts auditioned and got the part of Harley Quinn. In a different world, Emma Roberts may have been our Harley Quinn, guys! Roberts, though, decided to turn down the role, not wanting to be tied to the role or franchise for too long. Instead, she wanted to star in Fox’s Scream Queens. While Scream Queens has not officially been cancelled, most of the stars of the show have booked other gigs, leading people to assume an announcement of its cancellation is soon to follow. So, Emma Roberts chose Scream Queens over Suicide Squad... and now Scream Queens is probably canceled. Good choice, bad choice? We have to go with bad choice, since Margot Robbie’s career has exploded since the film’s release.
Well, Emma Roberts, you win some and you lose some.
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