Margot Robbie became the highest-paid female actor in Hollywood in 2022 and is currently riding on an all-time career high leading up to the release of the impending summer blockbuster Barbie. The Greta Gerwig film is probably Robbie’s most-talked-about film, but it is a 2017 role that made her realise she is “a good actor”.
Robbie, the Australian actor-producer who burst onto the Hollywood scene with Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street at 23, became a critic’s darling overnight. She held her own opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. But the 2017 biopic I, Tonya, directed by Craig Gillespie, which Robbie also co-produced, was a defining role for her.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, as part of BAFTA: A Life in Pictures, Robbie told the audience that it was I, Tonya which showed her how good of an actor she was, “I, Tonya was the first time I watched a movie and went ‘Okay, I’m a good actor.'”
A biographical dark comedy-drama, I, Tonya, delves into the turbulent life of figure skater Tonya Harding. The film portrays her rise from a troubled upbringing to her accomplishments in the figure skating world, including becoming the first American woman to execute a triple axel in competition successfully.
However, it primarily focuses on her infamous 1994 attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan orchestrated by Harding’s ex-husband and associates. The movie explores Tonya’s perspective, the media’s portrayal, and the societal complexities surrounding the event, offering a sharp insight into the scandal that forever marred her legacy.
The role earned Margot Robbie her first Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category. Allison Janney, who played LaVona Golden, Tonya’s abusive mother, won for Best Supporting Actress.
However, not everyone was all-praise for the film. I, Tonya, faced critique for taking artistic liberties with a true story, more so for generating sympathy for Tonya Harding. Christine Brennan, who had covered the real events in 1994, criticised the movie in USA Today, noting its disregard for factual accuracy and emphasising that Tonya herself was to blame for her situation. J.E. Vader, a journalist who followed Harding’s local rise, wrote a harsh review titled “I, Nauseated” in The Sonoma Index-Tribune and The Oregonian. Accusing Harding of being an “unrepentant felon” and “habitually ‘truth challenged'”, Vader dismissed the film as mere fantasy.
I, Tonya is currently streaming on Netflix.