“As soon as I read it, I couldn’t put it down,” declares Sebastian Stan during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) when reflecting on the film script for “I, Tonya.” “I found it funny, I found it scary, sad. The whole thing was something I just kind of slowly became more and more obsessed with in terms of wanting to go and find out what happened, and who’s telling the truth.” Margot Robbie stars in this Neon release as the infamous figure skater Tonya Harding, whose promising career was cut short after her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (Stan), inadvertently conspired to break the leg of her Olympic competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.
The actor knew very little about the real Gillooly before taking the role. He believes “there’s probably a couple versions” of Jeff. “There’s a version of what people maybe think of him, there’s a version of what he thinks of himself, and essentially, there’s a version of what everyone takes from seeing the movie and seeing him in the movie.” He continues, “for me, it was a very difficult character because when I first read him, I was having a really hard time understanding and relating to him, and I had a lot of judgements about the story, about [Harding], about him. Ultimately, I just had to do my job as an actor, and that job requires me to remove my own judgements and try to find my way through like a detective, so to speak.”
Stan is perhaps best known for playing Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. the Winter Soldier) in Marvel’s “Captain America” and “Avengers” series. He has also appeared in such films as “Rachel Getting Married” (2008), “Black Swan” (2010), “The Martian” (2015), and “Logan Lucky” (2017). He contended at the Critic’s Choice TV Awards as Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for “Political Animals” (2012).
“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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