These Two Woman Were The Key To Margot Robbie’s First Oscar Nomination For ‘I, Tonya’

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Margot Robbie is heading to the Oscars red carpet with her first Best Actress nomination, and all of this is possible, thanks to these figure skaters who trained her for her I, Tonya role.

The 90th Academy Awards, or the Oscars 2018, happens on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, and in a few hours, it will be revealed which actress will take home the Best Actress award.

Lined up for the Best Actress Award at the Oscars tonight are Meryl Streep for The Post, Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya, and Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water.

Margot Robbie heads to the awards night with her first Oscars nomination, right after I, Tonya garnered her wins from several critics and media awards since last year. Out of her many nominations, Robbie won the Best Actress Award at the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, New York Film Critics Online, Florida Film Critics Circle, Hollywood Film Awards, and the AACTA International Awards; and the Best Actress in a Comedy at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

The awards were very well deserved, as fans and critics alike said that Robbie delivered a phenomenal portrayal of Tonya Harding in the movie, both in the the genius of her acting and in the amount of effort she put in training for the movie.

Not a lot of people appreciate the difficulty level of figure skating, which takes years and years of relentless and dedicated training to master. In the movie, Robbie, as Harding, drills into the audience what it takes to become a competitive figure skater, as she quit school to focus on training nine hours a day.

Of course, no one could expect Margot Robbie to be able to perform all the skating routines by herself, given that she only had about a year of figure skating training prior to the shooting of the movie. But the amount of skating she did herself in the movie was impressive enough to be recognized.

It was revealed by 9 News Australia that Robbie trained under Australian former competitive figure skater Tina Wang at the Acacia Ridge Ice World in Brisbane, Australia, as preparation for playing the role of Harding in I, Tonya.

Wang said that Robbie was very fearless when it came to the ice, which is a key characteristic for anyone who wants to learn and perfect the art and sport of figure skating.

“She was really, really down to earth. She was really, really fearless and she gave everything a go.”

Robbie also worked immensely with Canadian figure skater and choreographer Sarah Kawahara to be able to reprise Tonya Harding’s programs for I, Tonya. Talking to Yahoo News, Kawahara said that there were special nuances with Harding’s way of skating that they had to drill into Robbie, and Kawahara was able to bring that out of the actress to make those scenes achievable on camera without having to use visual effects.

“In training Margot, first of all, it was important to just get the simple strokes of skating around the ice and getting out to the center and going over to your coach, all those simple movements. It was important to have her look like she’s done it all her life. And that’s easier said than done. Every [actor] wants to go through the usual steps that you have to go through, learning official stops and three turns and mohawks, but there really isn’t time when you’re doing a film on a short pre-production. So I have my little shortcuts. In working with the actor, I try to really adapt to their body rhythm to find how I am going to make this look comfortable on them.”

It was a good thing that Robbie had some kind of experience on the ice beforehand, as she played a little hockey when she was young. It was still different, of course, because hockey works so much more different than figure skating, and Kawahara had to turn her muscle memory for hockey into something more fine and graceful.

Sarah Kawahara looking happy at the premiere night of i tonya in california
Featured image credit: Rich FuryGetty Images

“Margot told me she was a surfer, she leads with her left foot, and she also played a little bit of hockey when she was a teenager. So I knew she could probably do a hockey turn with her left foot leading and I turned that into her stop. Her official stop became a stop that actually we do on the ice, when you kind of come into conversation and you slow down and then all of a sudden you’re stopped, and you don’t even feel it, which is the whole point.”

The more complicated jumps and spins, however, needed to be filmed with a skater double and a little bit of visual effects. Juliet Tierney, VFX producer for I, Tonya, said that to pull off the more difficult stuff, they had set up a small studio to scan Robbie’s overall head model for pasting into the skater double doing the more difficult moves.

Many are excited to know if Robbie will indeed bag her first Oscar at the awards ceremony, but leading the cheering crowd are decorated American figure skaters Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu. Nagasu became the first American woman to land the elusive triple axel move in the Olympics, the same way that Tonya Harding became the first woman to land the triple axel in competition.

On camera for Access Online, Nagasu and Rippon agreed that they are happy and excited to see Robbie on the Oscars red carpet, where they will be present as well.

“We heard you put in a lot of hours of figure skating. We are so proud of you. We put in a lot of hours too. You deserve an Olympic medal. So we’re going to share ours with you.”