• Margot Robbie in Australia to promote the Tonya Harding bio-pic 'I, Tonya'. (SBS)Source: SBS
Margot Robbie hit the dance floor to celebrate and that was even before she knew she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Dan Barrett

24 Jan 2018 - 5:31 PM  UPDATED 25 Jan 2018 - 3:44 PM

There are few actors having a better time than Australia's own Margot Robbie right now. Following the Sydney premiere of 'I, Tonya' last night, Robbie received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as disgraced former ice-skating star Tonya Harding.

Robbie was already out celebrating after her movie's premiere when she found out that she had been nominated: "I didn't know I had even more to celebrate. We had just come from the premiere where my friends and family had just seen the movie for the first time. I had just gotten back to Oz, so we were all just going crazy anyway. And then the nominations came out and we all just lost our minds."

'I, Tonya' marks the first leading role for Robbie on screen. To be recognised for this is undoubtedly an honour, but Robbie's investment in the film was heightened by producing the film through her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment. 

Margot Robbie is not content just starring in films, but is eager to develop her own projects and build them from the ground-up. This isn't just restricted to independent films like 'I, Tonya', but also with the bigger budget studio films that she is also starring in. This includes her work on the spin-off to the Warner Bros hit 'Suicide Squad'.

"I've been working on a Harley Quinn spin-off for about two years now," Robbie told SBS. "We have a lot of projects at our company that are with studios. Independent films, obviously, are a totally different thing because the way you raise your financing is a totally different system. So, it is a different experience, but it's still the same where you're trying to build a project, you're doing script development, you're trying to piece it together, and there are so many pieces that need to come together before a film can happen. Big or small, it's a miracle that you ever get it all to come together.

"I love it. I love that side. I love the business side to it. I love the creative development. I love having a voice in every aspect of the project, as opposed to just my role as an actor."

A bio-pic of the Olympic athlete, 'I, Tonya' follows Harding through two abusive relationships that defined her life up to the incident for which she would become infamous across the world. Often cited as the biggest scandal in sports history, Tonya Harding was implicated in a brutal attack on her ice skating rival Nancy Kerrigan.

In playing Harding, Margot Robbie was eager to stay true to the character in the script for as long as possible by not conflating her own performance with the real life Tonya. Robbie explained: "I held off meeting real life Tonya until right before we started shooting. I had already done about six months prep on the character and treated the character somewhat like I would a fictional character where I built it out and did the prep I usually do. I worked with the dialect coach, the movement coach, the acting coach. I came up with back stories, timelines, all that kind of stuff.

"Because it's a real life person, I also had a tonne of footage I could study. I studied her accent, her mannerisms, her physicality, her skate routines. All that kind of stuff in advance. And then at the last minute, met her."

The real-world Nancy Kerrigan has been vocal that she has not yet seen the movie, nor was she eager to actively see it anytime soon. While 'I, Tonya' doesn't always depict Harding with complete reverence, the film is from her perspective. It's understandable that Harding may not want to put herself in the shoes of the woman inextricably linked to her fame as one of sports greatest victims. 

Respectfully to Harding, Robbie advised that 'I, Tonya' was not about Kerrigan, even though her shadow looms large on the film. 

"It was never meant to be Tonya versus Nancy," Robbie insisted. It was never focused on Nancy's story. I'm sure Nancy has a fascinating story too. But the focus really was on Tonya's life and the most integral relationships in Tonya's life, it seemed to us, was with her mum and with Jeff Gillooly, her husband at the time. We really focused on those relationships.

"Nancy was in it fleetingly because once 1994 came around, that kind of altered how everyone felt about Tonya forever. But the idea was never to focus on that aspect the way the media did. It was to really focus on this part of the story that people didn't really know."


'I, Tonya' is released in Australia on 25 January.

Find out more about Tonya Harding in the doco Tonya Harding: The Price of Gold airing on SBS Sunday 4 February 8:30pm.


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