“I, Tonya,” the Craig Gillespie-directed biopic about Tonya Harding, the figure skater banned from competition for life for her connection to a 1994 attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan, has brought its stars — Margot Robbie, who plays an unsinkable Harding, and Allison Janney, as her sharp-tongued mother, LaVona — Oscar nominations, critical acclaim and, not surprisingly, a newfound love for the Winter Olympics. “We’re watching men’s half-pipe,” reports Robbie, jet-lagged and talking via speakerphone while sitting alongside Janney in a London hotel room. “We’re just mesmerized.”
The pair were in town to attend the BAFTAs, where they were both nominees. Before heading off to a party, they took time out to talk about the film’s more nuanced examination of Harding’s life (domestic violence, the skating world’s contempt for her working-class roots), Janney’s annoying parakeet costar and the reaction Robbie, an “I, Tonya” producer, had during her initial reading of Steven Rogers’ script.
“It’s so easy to dismiss these characters and their feelings. But by the end of it, I was devastated, angry and frustrated for them. I’d laugh out loud at something, then immediately feel disgusted with myself that I found it funny,” says Robbie. “To be able to let those feelings creep up on you, instead of being told to feel them? That’s a real art form.”
Parsing what’s true or false is a daily struggle of late. How much do you believe your characters?
Robbie: I knew we’d never know exactly how it went down. Twenty years later, everyone had completely different recollections of the same thing. Truth and reality had parted ways. My character’s truth was not necessarily the reality of the situation. But her version of the truth was far more interesting to me than the facts.
Janney: What made it so fun was the juxtaposition of everyone’s truth. You see LaVona throw a knife at her daughter, then cut to me saying, “What family doesn’t have their ups and downs?” Her truth was that she was a good mother, she gave her daughter an opportunity, and her daughter screwed it up by picking the [wrong] man. Where the reality is? I don’t know.
Read the rest of the interview [HERE]