The Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as the disgraced Olympic figure skater, will be released in December to qualify for this year’s awards season. With her first big exposure to U.S. audiences coming in the short-lived NBC airline drama Pan-Am in 2011, it didn’t take Australian actress Robbie long to make her breakthrough on the big screen after her pivotal supporting role as Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in director Martin Scorsese’s biographical crime drama The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013.
Following up the gig with a solid performance opposite Will Smith in the crime drama Focus and a memorable cameo as herself in The Big Short in 2015, Robbie shot to the top of A-list in Hollywood in 2016 with her dazzling turn as DC Comics icon Harley Quinn in the blockbuster supervillain movie Suicide Squad. Now, a year later, Robbie is bound to get noticed again for playing Harding, a controversial real-life figure from a sports scandal before the 1994 Winter Olympics.
According to THR, Robbie’s film I, Tonya will be released in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 8 to qualify for an awards season run, including the 90th annual Academy Awards. Acquired by upstart distributor Neon three days after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 8, the biopic will roll out in theaters across the U.S. in January.
The film will key in on the events in 1994 surrounding the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, when Harding’s chief competitor, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver), was attacked by an assailant with a police baton after a practice session. In in investigation into the incident, it was discovered that Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) was behind the attack, where the assailant hit Kerrigan in an attempt to break one of her legs so she couldn’t compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
It’s unclear at this point what span of time I, Tonya will cover in Harding’s life, since the incident cost the skater her professional career after the 1994 Winter Olympics. After that point, Harding’s life included the release of a sex tape (from her and Gillooly’s wedding night), as well as a reality-show commentator and celebrity boxer.
Although THR described I, Tonya – directed by The Finest Hours helmer Craig Gillespie – as “hilarious and devastating” it will be interesting to see Robbie stretch her range even more, especially following her manic turn in Suicide Squad. THR certainly seems impressed with Robbie’s performance, saying after its Toronto debut that her turn as Harding could very well earn her a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Oddly enough, depending on how much awards traction I, Tonya gets, will be facing off against two other movies about legendary sports events: Battle of the Sexes, which chronicles the historic exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell); and Borg/McEnroe, which keys in on the longtime rivalry between tennis greats John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) and Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and their thrilling match at Wimbledon in 1980.
I, Tonya will debut in New York and L.A. theaters on December 8, 2017, with a wider release in January 2018.
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