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Director Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya is very upfront about the weird and contradictory nature of the true story behind its narrative -- but it also features no shortage of "stranger than fiction" moments. There is not only a lot that is verifiable truth in the film, but a lot of that same material is also batshit insane. One perfect example is a scene where Jeff Gillooly drives for hours just to hurl an insult at Tonya -- which was a sequence that actor Sebastian Stan couldn't believe actually happened when he first read the script. He recently told me,
I had a lot of moments where I was really blown away by some of the scenes, because I just thought, 'It's just kind of ridiculous.' I didn't understand how anybody could be capable of doing those things -- particularly the scene where Jeff and Tonya are on the phone, and they're fighting, and she's eight hours away in a different place. And he winds up driving eight hours just to say, 'Fuck you!' to her.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sebastian Stan earlier this month during the Los Angeles press day for I, Tonya, and had the chance to pick his brain a bit about the true story that inspired the movie. I specifically asked if there were any scenes he couldn't believe were really real when he was preparing to play the infamous Jeff Gillolly, and he selected what is certainly one hell of a weird moment from the film.
In the comedy/drama, Jeff (Sebastian Stan) and Tonya (Margot Robbie) have a volatile relationship that often leads to messy fights, and at one point they decide to break up. Jeff, staying with his friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser), tries to call her and patch things up, but every time he does he gets a quick, "Fuck you," and she hangs up. Despite the fact that she is in a training facility eight hours away, he gets in the car with Sean, drives, and then gets satisfaction when he screams at her from a balcony, 'No, fuck you!" It's a very strange sequence, but apparently entirely real.
Sebastian Stan sees the humor of the scene as part of the genius of the I, Tonya script -- a great example of the very strange sense of humor. There is a great deal in the story that really isn't funny (there is a lot of horrible physical and emotional abuse featured), but at the same time you really can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of some of it. Said Stan,
But that was the irony of this script that was really interesting, just balancing the humor and then also tragedy, and also that there was so much sadness in these characters that were to some extent also funny.
You can watch the I, Tonya star talk about Jeff Gillooly's crazy drive by clicking play on the Sebastian Stan video below!
I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, and Bobby Cannavale, is now out in limited release, but a theatrical expansion is expected.