Sex Education's Emma Mackey talks Margot Robbie comparisons and Barbie's "unexpected" tone

Emily Mackey in Sex Education and Margot Robbie in Wolf of Wall Street
(Image credit: Netflix/Paramount)

Yes, Emma Mackey has seen the tweets about her looking like Margot Robbie. In fact, it's partly why she was cast alongside Robbie in Greta Gerwig's Barbie.

"It’s just funny," she tells Total Film in the latest issue of the magazine, headlined by Halloween Ends. "And I think Margot has had the grace and humor to be able to play on that, and allow me to be in the same film as her – bless her. It’s just a joke in real life. I’m like, 'We don’t look anything like each other.' I don’t mind it. It’s Margot Robbie. Are you kidding me? She’s the best. I look up to her so much. I don’t mind the comparisons. But it would be nice to move past that."

Despite Mackey thinking they look nothing like each other, the internet's likely not going to move past the similarities until Barbie eventually reaches cinemas. "My dream was to work with Greta," she says. "When that came along, I was like, 'I need to audition for this.' I was really excited because Greta’s my hero, and I adore her. Working with her has been everything I could have dreamed of."

Mackey’s restricted in terms of what she can say about the film for now, but her enthusiasm is palpable. "It’s pretty special," she beams. “It’s one of the best scripts all of us had read." As for the tone of the film, Mackey says, "It’s very unexpected in many ways. I think people are going to have an idea of the film, and I don’t think it’s going to be that. It’s going to be a surprise. I’m really excited. And it’s a comedy, thank God. No crying in this film! Let me tell you that. No crying! It was great to do pure comedy – an American comedy, as well. And I got to work with some heroes."

Before Mackey appears in Barbie, she's playing Emily Brontë in the upcoming biopic Emily from actor-turned-director Frances O'Connor, which opens October 14. That's just a taster of our Mackey interview in the new issue of Total Film, which is on newsstands this Thursday – while subscribers have their copies now! Order your copy of Total Film here or subscribe to Total Film here and never miss another issue. You can currently grab three issues for just £3!

Also in the new issue: Jamie Lee Curtis talking Halloween Ends, Sex Education breakout Emma Mackay discusses Emily and Barbie, and Billy Eichner reveals all about Bros. Plus, so much more! Barbie reaches cinemas July 2023.

Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.