While director Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya is technically based on a true story, that "truth" very much depends on who is telling the story. The movie explores the perspectives of Margot Robbie's Tonya Harding, Sebastian Stan's Jeff Gillooly, and Allison Janney's LaVona Golden, and all of them have very different takes on the titular ice skater's notorious tale. It makes for an interesting experience as an audience member, but weirdly enough it also caused Robbie to make some notable changes in her performance. The actress recently told me,
I created the character, and stuck with that character the whole way through. Her mannerisms, her physicality, her voice, her point of view, always stayed the same. Her point of view on fundamental things always stayed the same. Her persona stayed the same. They physicality stayed the same. The few scenes that we are seeing Tonya in Jeff's point of view, yes, my intentions had to be altered. I had to alter my mindset as though I was living in a parallel universe where I did know things that I had not plotted out to know.
The Australian actress went all in portraying one of the most notorious figures in sports history, and showed that dedication with tremendous fidelity to the movie's vision. While speaking with Margot Robbie during the I, Tonya press day earlier this month in Los Angeles, I asked how the shifting perspectives of the story changed her performance. She explained that she legitimately approached the scenes told from the perspective of Jeff Gillooly differently than she did in parts of the story seen from Tonya's point of view.
Telling the story of the conspiracy that led to the attack on Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Winter Olympics, I, Tonya starts with a disclaimer saying that it is, "Based on irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly," and it certainly lives up to that. Tonya and Jeff have very different views on the way that the whole thing went down, and it leads to a creative bit of storytelling anchored by a brilliant performance. There aren't many actresses who could have brought to the film what Margot Robbie does, and it explains why her name is getting mentioned a lot as award season continues to heat up.
You can click play on the video below to watch Margot Robbie discuss her unique approach to her performance in I, Tonya:
Following its impressive debut at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, I, Tonya has now found its way into limited release. Hopefully picking up more notable nominations (Margot Robbie is up for Best Actress -- Comedy at the Golden Globes) will lead to the movie to start showing in more theaters nationwide.