Cheap Shapewear When Margot Robbie read the script for I, Tonya, a biopic of the notorious ice skater Tonya Harding, she assumed the story was complete fiction. “I thought the writer was so quirky and crazy to come up with this stuff,” she told me, still looking a bit astonished by the strange twists in Harding’s life. (In 1994, the skater was famously implicated in a plot to take down her nemesis Nancy Kerrigan after a man attacked Kerrigan with a baton.) We were on location for the W shoot in Snug Harbor, a bucolic Staten Island enclave founded in the early 1800s as a haven for old sailors. There was something appealingly run-down and shabby about the setting, but Robbie, who is 27, is a glow-y girl: With blond hair and an engaged manner, she can’t help but shine.
Which is why it is so remarkable that Robbie was able to completely disappear into Harding’s decidedly darker persona. A self-described redneck from Oregon, Harding was the antithesis of the traditional superstar figure skater. She was rough and flashy, and her skating was powerful and athletic rather than graceful and balletic. Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, were ultimately charged with criminal conspiracy to commit assault. While Kerrigan recovered from her injuries in time to compete in the ’94 Olympics, the incident propelled Harding to tabloid infamy and effectively ended her skating career.
Full ScreenHarding’s life, by her own account, was violent: In the film, her mother (played brilliantly by Allison Janney) physically abuses her, as does Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan). “I worried that after some of the fight scenes we would never win the audience back,” Robbie told me. “When we screened the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, the whole audience gasped when Gillooly hit her. But six minutes later, he did something kind, and the audience went, ‘Ahhh!’ ”
Robbie paused. “That was interesting to me, and explains something about the insidious nature of domestic violence: The audience forgave him so quickly. So how could you blame Tonya for going back to him?”
Margot Robbie: No. I’d already done heaps of boxing training to play Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. So the boxing wasn’t an issue. I had done a lot of stunts in that film, and I thought, I can pick up things fairly quickly with the right training—I should have this ice-skating thing down in no time. I didn’t realize how extremely difficult it is. There’s no padding when you hit the ice. Our choreographer was never sympathetic. When I fell, she was like, “Come on, get up. Let’s go!” One time I had a huge fall, and she said, “That was a real skater fall, and you can have a minute.” I was so proud, with tears streaming down my face.
We replicated every single one. A lot of people have nostalgia for that Tonya Harding period. She sewed her own costumes! And during filming, I sewed the bow on my costume. We had all the actual footage—you couldn’t invent this stuff. In an interview, Tonya’s mom, LaVona, wore a fur coat with an actual bird sitting on her shoulder. If we proposed that idea, people would say, “That’s ridiculous.” But that’s what they actually wore.
Did you go out on Halloween last year? Did you see all of the Harley Quinns?
Yes! A lot of my friends dressed up as Harley Quinn for Halloween. When they started texting me, “What did the tattoo on your right thigh say?” I really thought they were taking the piss. I was like, “Ha ha.” But they wrote back, “No, seriously, we are dressing as Harley for Halloween!” And so many guys dressed up as her, too, which is my favorite thing. Every Halloween I dress as a guy character because they are always the most fun. From Day One, I never got the Halloween slutty costumes. I went out as Jason from Friday the 13th, with my jumpsuit and machete. I was in New York that year, and it was snowing. I thought, Surely, everybody is going to cover up. But every other woman was in lingerie. My favorite costume, though, was James Franco’s character in Spring Breakers. I did my hair in cornrows, put on a Hawaiian shirt and a gold grill on my teeth. I nailed it! I’ve always dressed up as guy characters, so to think that guys are now trying to take on Harley because she’s the coolest and the craziest—that’s pretty awesome.