Tonya Harding was 'so nervous' the first time she watched I, Tonya
I, Tonya has been sparking debate and earning buzz ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and as we head into awards season, Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding biopic is a hit, earning three Golden Globe nominations (including best actress for Robbie and best musical or comedy).
The film has also earned a fan in Harding herself. Harding and Robbie appear together on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter’s newest issue, where the figure skater opens up about her initial reluctance to be involved in the movie — and why she’s glad she went through with it.
“I was grateful that [I, Tonya screenwriter Steven Rogers] actually came to us first, but I wasn’t going to do it,” Harding told THR. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to go through this again. I’ve been through enough, and I have my son now.’ Michael Rosenberg, my manager, talked me into doing this possibly as closure. I was so nervous to watch it, but when I saw it, I wasn’t watching a movie about me. I was watching Margot, and then I went, ‘Oh my goodness. That’s about me.’”
The film follows Harding from her poverty-stricken upbringing with an abusive mother (played by Allison Janney) to becoming a household name for her skating achievements to her eventual fall from grace, after her association with the notorious attack on Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. To play the controversial skater, Robbie met with Harding before filming began.
“When I saw her, I was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so beautiful. Thank you, God!’” Harding said with a laugh. “And I did not expect [Robbie] to be so kind and forthcoming with me because I’ve had so much disrespect in my life. I don’t even wish for my worst enemy to have to go through anything that I went through.”
Today, Harding has a young son, and she works as a landscaper and deck-builder, but she still skates “every week.”
“We have a rink about 50 minutes from my house,” Harding said. “It makes me feel alive. If I wasn’t in pain most of the time while I’m skating, I’d be out there much longer. But I’m going to go back to doing my triples. I know once I land one, it will be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s how it feels.’”
Read the full Q&A with Harding and Robbie at The Hollywood Reporter.