08 Jan They told Margot Robbie ‘I, Tonya’ couldn’t get made, but now the film has a Golden Globe
In “I, Tonya,” Margot Robbie leads from the front of the camera, playing the title character of figure skater Tonya Harding, but also from behind it, as producer. On Sunday, the movie, which was nominated for three Golden Globe awards, earned Allison Janney a Golden Globe for best supporting actress.
“I’m just so happy,” Robbie, 27, told MarketWatch shortly after the nominations were announced last month, which also included nods to “I, Tonya” for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and best actress. Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, produced “I, Tonya” on an $11 million budget, and Robbie trained in figure skating for multiple hours a day, many months before filming began.
“I’ve never played a leading role where my character’s name is in the title of the film, so it was a responsibility,” she said. “For any character, no matter how small it is, I do a lot of preparation. But for this one, obviously being ingrained in the producing side and the pre-production process made those preparations more in-depth than I’ve ever done before.”
To make the film, which incorporates faux documentary-style interviews with narrative, on a limited budget and schedule, Robbie and co-producers Tom Ackerley (Robbie’s husband), Steven Rogers and Bryan Unkeless, had to hustle. But the hustle lent itself to the story’s scrappy, satirical style.
“A lot of people told us it was impossible to do,” Robbie said. “We’re very young producers so I guess we had enough blind optimism to believe that we could pull it off. Thankfully, we didn’t listen [to them].”
Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in ‘I, Tonya’
The actress, who also starred in “Goodbye Christopher Robin” earlier this year and will play Queen Elizabeth I in the coming film “Mary, Queen of Scots,” said being a producer gave her a strong voice in the creative conversation.
“As an actor, I really love getting to craft my own specific storyline and character, but as a general film lover, I like to look at the big picture and the film as a whole. I’m interested in every aspect of the filmmaking process,” she said. “As a producer, I get to be involved in all those decisions.”
“I, Tonya,” which also stars Sebastian Stan as Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, was directed by Craig Gillespie from a script by Steven Rogers. The film was released by Neon and 30West on Friday, after it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The weekend box office totaled $245,602 in four theaters, an impressive debut for an independent film.
Going forward, Robbie and LuckyChap will continue searching for female-driven content with strong women characters, she said. They’ll continue mining for original content that feels “different, slightly outside the box,” and said scripts like “I, Tonya” are unexpected and refreshing.
“I genuinely didn’t know where it was going when I was reading it,” Robbie said. “I think time and time again we’ve seen that audiences are hungry for that. I don’t think we should be dumbing down material and making obvious choices. Audiences really respond to being challenged.”