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Robbie already was becoming known — for her breakout role in The Wolf of Wall Street and for playing the demented villain Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad — but the Australian actress, 27, proved her range by portraying infamous figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. Robbie earned her first Oscar nomination for playing the ice champ from ages 15 through 40 in the dark comedy, which attempts to explain how an athlete with such raw talent could land at the center of the sport’s biggest scandal. Robbie spoke to THR about her favorite memories from the shoot and the awards-season circuit.
What was it like to hear you’d been nominated?
I was at home in Australia for the I, Tonya premiere, and it was 1 in the morning when the nominations started coming through. We were already out at the after-party, so I was literally with all my friends and my family, and we were already having some champagne, and then we obviously kept celebrating. It was perfect.
Have you had any unexpected interactions during awards season?
You start meeting people that you just, like, you had no idea they even knew who you were. I had quite a surreal moment where I watched Thelma & Louise the night before the SAG Awards, and then the first two people I ran into were Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. That was so bizarre.
How was it to spend time with Tonya at the Golden Globes?
It was really fun, especially because the Globes are a very fun night anyway. I think she had a great time meeting people and meeting people that she either did know who they were or had absolutely no idea who they were but they still happened to be very famous. It was very funny. And people seemed to be incredibly starstruck to see her in return.
Do you have a favorite scene in I, Tonya?
I love watching the wedding scene just because when you shoot a wedding scene — I’ve done a couple of weddings — they’re always really fun because everyone is excited and all dressed up. But I also love watching some of Sebastian [Stan]’s scenes between him and Shawn, played by Paul Walter Hauser. They crack me up when I watch those scenes. Their comedy is so spot-on and specific.
Do you have anything in common with the character of Tonya?
I never thought of it that way. Obviously since people have seen it, they are drawing their own comparisons, but when I picked up the script, I didn’t really see any similarities, and that’s what excited me about the character. The character seemed so foreign to me, and it’s always something I find with the characters that I really love is that to begin with I can’t see any level that we relate on and then, as I explore the character, I suddenly find that we relate in so many ways. That just kind of comes out when putting yourself in the mind-set of someone else. I think if anyone does that, they’ll find empathy there and find a way to connect and find small or big things to relate to their character.
Did you keep anything from the shoot?
I kept my ice skates because I spent months breaking them in. And I kept a big bag of [hair] scrunchies — I love scrunchies now.
What other films did you love?
I loved Shape of Water so much. And I loved Three Billboards, and I loved Lady Bird. There are so many good ones this year.
A version of this story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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