The figure skating world stood in shock on January 6, 1994, when a hitman was hired to attack pro-skater Nancy Kerrigan. A longtime skating rivalry between Kerrigan and Tonya Harding led onlookers and a jury to believe that Harding played a significant role in the attack, though she claims to this day that it was only the doing of her ex-husband and ex-bodyguard.
After the attack, media turned all of their attention to the rivalry. Harding's role in the attack was questioned because she had been threatened by Kerrigan as a competitor for the U.S. Championships. While Kerrigan was in recovery, Harding went on to win first place at the U.S. Women's Championships.
Kerrigan was strong enough to compete at the Winter Olympics that February, however, and ended up winning a silver medal. Harding took eighth place after a lace on her skate reportedly broke.
Kerrigan has always been portrayed as the hero "princess" who made a comeback, while Harding has consistently been considered the villain of the story. While she denied her role in the plan, Harding did plead guilty to conspiring to "hinder the prosecution" of the attackers. She had three years of probation, 500 hours of community service, paid a $160,000 fine, and was banned from skating professionally for life.
Now, a detailed movie, "I, Tonya," is set to release on Friday that highlights Harding's life and the skating scandal. New interviews give insight into what Harding thinks about the portrayal of her life.
The former skater was involved to some degree in the production of the movie, making it easier for her to approve of. The director of the film said that he wanted to highlight the reality of the story but be empathetic with Harding. According to Bustle, screenwriter Steven Rogers had six hours of interviews with Harding.
Director Craig Gillespie said, "I really felt like it was there in Steven’s script that, by the end of the movie, we should empathize with her. I know it’s a tall order with such a huge public persona that we have, but I really felt it was possible with Margot’s performance, with this script ... I heard [Tonya] was actually happy with it."
Margot Robbie, the star actress who plays Harding in the film, said that the former skater was excited about the movie.
Robbie said, "[Harding] was so gracious, she was amazing about [seeing the film]. Really, really amazing. She was very complimentary about what we pulled off, and she was really kind about my skating even though I'm nowhere near as good as I should be. Yeah, she was great."
Allison Janney, the actress who plays Harding's mother, said, "[Harding] loved the movie. There were parts she didn't like but I think mostly she was really excited about it. I just wanted to give her a hug, 'cause back when I first heard about this story we were told what to think about her and we were told she was a villain. Actually, it was a lot more complicated than that, the story of what happened to her. And I think people come away with a lot more compassion for her."
Ellen DeGeneres, who was interviewing Janney, said that the movie made it seem like Harding was innocent. Janney said that people can form their own opinions, but that she believes that as well.
What do you think about this? Will you be watching the movie? Let us know on Facebook. In other recent news, a U.S. Olympic star just said that she refuses to represent President Trump at this year's Olympics.