Did Tonya Harding Inspire Melissa Rauch’s Character In ‘The Bronze’? Former Olympian Stars With Actress In New Promo

Audiences who watched the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, likely remember the dramatic saga of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, even if they weren’t fans of the U.S. women’s figure skating team. Harding’s now ex-husband hired a man to attack Kerrigan before the Games, but her injuries were not significant enough to warrant her withdrawal. Harding was banned for life from U.S. figure skating when she pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation of the Kerrigan incident. The plea also stripped her of the national title.

In the new movie The Bronze, Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch plays the fictional character of Hope Ann Greggory, a former Olympic gymnast who never regained her previous glory. Greggory is a tough-talking, abrasive person who has little desire to fit a “sweet” image. Rauch is dressed for much of the film in a U.S. Olympic team track suit, hair drawn back into a ponytail with curled bangs. Is Rauch playing Tonya Harding? A new piece in Vulture makes that connection because Harding herself appears in a new promo for the film.

“If Melissa Rauch’s brusque, small-town protagonist Hope Ann Greggory from her new comedy, ‘The Bronze, seemed a little familiar, it only takes seeing her next to the real-life Tonya Harding to realize, oh yeah, she is 100 percent Tonya Harding.”

In the promo, Rauch as Greggory and Harding as herself are seen in a movie executive’s office, discussing the “soft” opening of The Bronze. It pokes fun at the movie’s low box office and dismal reviews from critics. Greggory, true to her character, and Harding, true to her image, offer subtle threats to get Greggory overtime for her work on The Bronze and to make sure her pay is not less than that of Bradley Cooper — even though Cooper is not in the film. In the end, the women give the executive the bird as they exit his office.

Tonya Harding Figure Skater
During the women's free skate during the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, Tonya Harding interrupted her routine to show the judges a problem with her boot lace. (Photo by: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The clip’s dialogue, with reference to judges liking “ice princesses,” points to Harding’s rough background, compared to Kerrigan’s privileged upbringing. The Guardian recently reported that Harding will get the big screen biopic treatment as Margot Robbie is set to produce and star in the upcoming I, Tonya. Scriptwriter Steven Rogers interviewed Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly to help piece together the story. As yet, the film does not have a director.

Cast of 'The Bronze'
Melissa Rauch co-wrote 'The Bronze.' The main character is a departure from Rauch's well-known character on 'The Big Bang Theory.' (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images,)

NJ noted that the plot line of The Bronze has Greggory coaching a younger, sweeter gymnast, counseling moviegoers to “think Nancy Kerrigan to her Tonya Harding.” Rauch told NJ that she and her husband came up with the idea for the film when she got free pretzels at a New Jersey mall after she had success on television. After that success ended, she had to pay for pretzels again. In The Bronze, Greggory is still milking free stuff 10 years after her Olympic success.

“[W]e started talking about what that does to the psyche – you know, being from a small town, and having that little bit of fame, and then losing it. And that’s when we came up with the idea.”

Nancy Kerrigan won a silver medal in the 1994 Olympics; Oksana Baiul got gold. Harding finished eighth. Despite the ups and downs of her career, Harding remains the first American woman, and only the second woman in the world, to land a triple axel jump in competition.

The Bronze is in theaters now.

[Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images]