“Honestly, I wasn’t attracted to the story of Tonya Harding,” admits director Craig Gillespie during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) about his new film “I, Tonya.” “Nothing against her, but it was 25 years ago, I’d just done two biopics, and then it came along. But then my agent followed up with ‘Margot Robbie‘s attached,’ and I was like huh, that’s intriguing.” Robbie stars in this Neon release as the infamous figure skater, whose promising career was cut short after her ex-husband (Sebastian Stan) inadvertently conspired to break the leg of her Olympic competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.
The director was interested with working with the actress on the project because “she has so much potential. She’s so good at dancing between comedy and drama, so I was hopeful that maybe the script would play to those strengths.” Steven Rogers‘ original screenplay didn’t disappoint. “It’s just crazy. It’s an amazing, wild ride, an incredibly fast-paced script. I just loved it, and I thought she’d be brilliant for it.” Suddenly, Gillespie’s interest was peaked.
Gillespie cut his teeth directing commercials, winning the DGA award for his work for Ameriquest in 2006 and competing in 2002, 2003, and 2010. He broke into feature films with “Mr. Woodcock” and “Lars and the Real Girl” in 2007, leading to “Fright Night” (2011), “Million Dollar Arm” (2014) and “The Finest Hours” (2016).
“I, Tonya” opens in theaters on December 8. The film also stars Allison Janney as Harding’s demonstrative mother, Julianne Nicholson as her long-suffering coach, Paul Walter Hauser as her bumbling bodyguard, and Bobby Cannavale as a sleazy entertainment journalist.
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