In the build to the 1994 Winger Olympics, Nancy Kerrigan was a clear frontrunner for Gold. However, in a widely publicized and scandalous turn, Kerrigan was attacked by a hitman who struck Kerrigan's thigh a few inches above her knee. This was an attempt to cripple the Olympian and pave the way for Tonya Harding to win.
In the subsequent investigation, Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, were the found to be responsible for hiring hitman, Shane Stant, to attack Kerrigan. Harding then admitted to helping cover up the attack, and the United States Figure Skating Organization and Olympic Committee stripped her of her 1994 title and banned her for life from participating in any USFSA events, either as a coach or player.
Each new bit of controversy caught the country's attention by storm, but Robbie hoped to bring some humanity to her presentation of Harding in "I, Tonya." In recent interviews, Robbie detailed how hard it was to get into the mind of Harding. She told Grazia:
"I had lost my mind. I genuinely thought we were these people and we were off the set, running down the street screaming at each other and the cameras are running after us. I think I was screaming something about needing to go to hospital because my hand was broken.
It wasn't, but I was so caught up in the moment. And Sebastian [Stan] was like, 'Margot, where are you going?' He went to pick me up because I was continuing to tear down off set and I turned and punched him in the head."
A few times I've genuinely thought I wasn't on set and that I was that character in that time and in that place. To truly forget there's a camera in your face is really hard. When it does happen, it's really exhilarating. I don't know if it's because you're so tired when you're filming you're almost delusional.
It wasn't just the mental strain that tested Robbie. Physically preparing to figure skate proved a lot more difficult for the Australian, as she discussed with Wonderland Magazine:
“Sarah Kawahara, who actually choreographed for Nancy Kerrigan, was training me. Before that point I thought I wasn’t too bad at ice skating — I used to play ice hockey.
I soon realized that I’d just been running on ice, and now there was no padding. My alarm would go off at 5.30am and I’d want to cry. Sometimes after sessions I’d get back into the car and weep.”