I, Tonya

Madeleine Moore , Reporter

I, Tonya

Starring Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan, I, Tonya is a biopic depicting one of the biggest scandals in Olympic history, the attack on professional ice skater, Nancy Kerrigan. Robbie portrays Kerrigan’s longtime rival, Tonya Harding, top Olympic competitor with a troubled past and an image that wasn’t fit for the skating world.

On January 6, 1994, while practicing for the U.S. Olympic Trials which were the next day, Nancy Kerrigan was hit in the knee with a baton by a masked man. As a result, Kerrigan was unable to compete at the Olympic Trials and Tonya Harding ended up advancing to the Olympics. However, Kerrigan was guaranteed a spot at the Norway Olympics and ended up competing only six weeks after she was attacked by an assailant hired by Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s now ex-husband. Kerrigan’s performance was considered the highlight of her ice skating career and she received a silver metal.

Neither Harding nor Kerrigan returned to the skating world after the Olympics, as Harding was banned and Kerrigan decided to retire. Harding was brought to court after Gillooly confessed that he hired the man that attempted to cripple Kerrigan, and that Tonya was aware of his plans. She pleaded guilty to conspiring the attack on rival, Nancy Kerrigan, alongside her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, who originally came up with the idea to strike her right knee, her landing leg, with a metal baton. Harding was fined $160,000, permanently banned from all competitive skating competitions and was placed on a three-year probation. Gillooly received two years in prison and Eckhart received 18 months.

In 1991, three years before Nancy Kerrigan was attacked, Harding made history as the first American woman to land a triple axel in a competition.

Despite re-marrying and changing her last name to Price, Tonya Harding will forever be acquainted with the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. 23 years after what was known as the “whack heard round the world,” screenwriter Steven Rodgers and Director Craig Gillespie released I, Tonya, a biopic based on interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly. Margot Robbie joined the production as both a producer and the lead role. The real Tonya Harding was involved early on, as Robbie kept in touch with her to prepare for the role. Sebastian Stan was able to interview Gillooly, however, he was not as involved with the movie as Harding was.

“He was very open to talk about it. Which was interesting because there was never really an account of him talking about it before. The version in the movie that you’re getting is the first time you’re hearing his story,” Stan told Rotten Tomatoes in an interview.

I, Tonya was set up more as a story about Harding’s struggle in the ice skating world rather than a story about Nancy Kerrigan’s attack. Harding was set up as the victim, as she always is when telling her side of the story. In the skating world, women are supposed to look and act a certain way and Harding had never really fit that image. Coming from a poorer family, Harding’s mother, LaVona Golden, would sew her costumes and work her harder than any of the other girls. As Golden claimed, she worked three jobs and put all of her money into supporting Tonya.

“I wanted her to have what I couldn’t,” Golden, said.

Screenwriter Steven Rodgers depicted LaVona Golden as an abusive mother because Harding claimed she would hit her in several interviews.

Allison Janney, seven-time Primetime Emmy Award winner, was cast as LaVona Golden and received a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture this year. Unlike Margot and Sebastian, Allison Janney was unable to set up an interview with LaVona Golden and had to base her character solely off of interviews she found online.

“I made up my own story for her that helped me as an actress and informed my every scene… Just really getting behind what she wanted. The stakes are high for LaVona, she feels she’s owed a lot and has been overlooked by life,” Janney, who played LaVona Golden, said.

Janney is nominated for an Oscar with the same title and Robbie for Best Actress.

“[Margot], Allison and Sebastian all made this movie so special for me, to get the truth out there so people might have a little bit different of an opinion and understand,” Harding said.

Ever since Nancy Kerrigan was attacked, Tonya Harding’s reputation has been tainted and she hopes that I, Tonya will bring light to her side of the story.