I, Tonya directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steve Rogers tells the story of figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) and the events that led to the assault of fellow competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.
The film is set up as a mockumentary interviewing Harding’s family and associates including her eccentric and rather cruel mother, LaVona Fay Golden (Allison Janney), her impotent husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) and Jeff’s simple-minded friend, Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser.) The film was well received by audiences and critics as it was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 75th Golden Globes Awards and actress, Allison Janney was awarded Best Supporting Actress. The Knockturnal was able to view the film during Variety’s screening presented by FilmStruck at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA. Check out snippets from a Q & A with the cast and crew. I, Tonya is now in theaters.
Interviewer: Tonya Harding seemed to hold her own at the Golden Globes, how did she feel about being around the stars?
Margot Robbie: She went up to everyone! Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, all these people that I was too scared to even speak to she was like just straight up like, “hey Meryl, can I get a photo” and it was great! That’s the best thing about Tonya; she’s just very unapologetically herself.
Allison Janney: There was a funny moment where she, she had a panic attack on the red carpet and someone had helped her through a couple of moments and we were sitting at the table at the Globes and the woman who helped her came by and she said, “there’s the lady who helped me” and I said, “oh you mean Sharon Stone?” So funny, it was absolutely my favorite moment.
Interviewer: I’m gonna bet that she was probably the hot ticket of the night, probably everyone wanted to meet her.
Margot Robbie: People were kind of…Gal Gadot came up to say hi and I was like hey and she was like, “and this must be your mother” and I was like, “no this is the real Tonya Harding,” she was like, “oh my God!” People were really excited to see her as well, it was reciprocated. It was nice.
Interviewer: The story of Tonya has been around for a while but was there something that spurred your interest in it recently?
Steve Rogers: Yeah, I had just written a Christmas movie and I knew that I wanted to write something that was totally different and my niece was over at my house and we happened to watch this great documentary on 30 for 30 about Tonya Harding and there were things in the documentary that sort of interested me about class in America and the disenfranchised and the things that we tell ourselves in order to live with ourselves and what we tell women they’re supposed to be. There was just like a whole lot of things that I thought were interesting so I went onto the Tonya Harding website to see if the rights were even available and I called the number for her agent and it was a Motel 6 and I just thought, I’m so in. So I tracked down Tonya Harding and I tracked down Jeff Gillooly and I interviewed them and when I did, their stories were so wildly different and I just thought well I’ll write every point of view and then let the audience decide what’s what.
Interviewer: And Margot how did it come to you and what intrigued you as both an actress and as a producer?
Margot Robbie: Steven wrote the script on spec script, it wasn’t with a production company already. I read it looking for female-driven content for our company and it was just an incredible script. I knew immediately that not only would I love to produce it but I wanted to play Tonya as well. At that point, I thought Tonya was a fictional character. I didn’t know she was a real live person because I was 4 years old at the time of the incident and I missed the whole thing and I’ve never really been interested in the figure skating world. It wasn’t something I grew up glued to the TV watching, it was just an amazing script with incredible characters who I genuinely cared for by the end of it and it never felt like the script was trying to tug at heartstrings or anything to evoke certain emotions out of me. It really was a subjective experience where I kinda fell into this world and fell in love with these people and really cared about them by the end and I don’t know, it’s rare to read a script like that that makes you care so much.