"There's no need to have class when you have talent." This perfectly encapsulates I, Tonya. This biographical film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers. Based on the unbelievable, but true events, this is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan.
Screenwriter Steven Rogers was inspired to write the film after watching a documentary about ice skating which mentioned Tonya Harding. Rogers successfully managed to secure interviews with Harding and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. Both remembered the events of the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan very differently. Rogers never had experience interviewing a real-life subject before the film. He initially called her agent to obtain the life rights to her story and got a Motel 6. When he finally tracked her down, he found her extremely forthcoming over a two-day interview. Harding didn't feel like she had anything to lose at that point. However, Rogers failed to secure an interview with Harding's mother LaVona Golden after tracking her down. The script was featured on the 2016 Black List of the most-liked scripts of the year. The script caught the attention of Robbie, who did not realize it was based on a real event until after she finished reading it. Immediately prior to filming, Robbie flew to Portland, Oregon to meet with Harding. Although a member of an amateur ice hockey league, Robbie didn't have that much skating experience before taking on the role. To prepare for the role and the skating scenes, Robbie trained for four months. Robbie trained with Sarah Kawahara - Nancy Kerrigan's former choreographer. Principal photography began in late January 2017 in Macon, Georgia. Throughout the shoot, Robbie suffered from a herniated disc in her neck, and had routine MRIs to ensure it was safe for her to continue filming skating scenes. Although Robbie trained for the role, she wasn't be able to do Harding's triple Axel, as very few people in the world are able to. Thus the choreography was achieved through Robbie's skating doubles, Heidi Munger and Anna Malkova, and CGI. Filming wrapped in March, with pickups in Atlanta in May.