Steven Rogers Interview: ‘I, Tonya’ writer
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), screenwriter Steven Rogers reveals he was inspired to write “I, Tonya” because “there were things in that story that resonated with me about truth, and the perception of truth, and the things that we tell ourselves just to be able to live with ourselves. Also, there were things in it about class that I thought were interesting, and about the media, so I thought there was a lot there to work with.” This Neon release stars Margot Robbie as figure skater Tonya Harding, whose promising career was cut short when her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) inadvertently conspired to break the leg of her Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Directed by Craig Gillespie, “I, Tonya” opens on Friday, December 8, and also stars Allison Janney.
The writer tracked down Harding and Gillooly for research. “Their stories were so wildly contradictory,” he divulges. “I thought, that’s my in. I’ll just show everybody’s point of view, and then let the audience decide what they want to decide.” He adds, “When I first was talking to Tonya, she was trying to put her good face on,” which gave him the idea of structuring the film around interviews with the participants. “Everyone’s trying to control the narrative… They’re all telling themselves what they need to now to be able to live with themselves.”
Throughout his 20 year career, Rogers has penned such films as “Hope Floats” (1998), “Stepmom” (1998), “Kate & Leopold” (2001), “P.S. I Love You” (2007), and “Love the Coopers” (2015). He recently competed at the Gotham Awards in Best Feature and for “I, Tonya,” which also contended for the Audience Award and Best Actress (Robbie).