Margot Robbie took a very measured approach to portraying vilified figure skater Tonya Harding in the acclaimed new mockumentary I Tonya. The 27-year-old Australian actress made it clear to her real-life subject that she was playing “a character,” not Harding herself, who was banned from the sport in 1994 after her associates attacked rival Nancy Kerrigan.
“In my mind, there’s a big difference between her and the character,” Robbie told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). “So I needed the freedom on set to let that character do its own thing, and I didn’t want to hold back at all. And she was understanding about it.”
Robbie, best known for her breakout role in The Wolf of Wall Street and playing the popular antihero Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, also isn’t quick to pass judgment on Harding for her role in the assault and her place in the pop-culture pantheon.
“We never really set out to say one thing, we just wanted to show her as a person, really,” Robbie said. “She’s not the victim; she’s not the villain either. She’s a person. And being a person means there’s good and bad in you, and you make mistakes.”
Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s abrasive mother, LaVona Golden, thinks the film will sway popular opinion. “I think [the film] totally reshapes her legacy; I think people will come away from this with a lot more empathy for Tonya Harding,” she said. “I think she got an unfair deal.”
I, Tonya is now playing in select theaters.
How “cheap strip malls” helped Margot Robbie’s stunning I, Tonya transformation:
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