If there ever was a personality to quash the notions that Australians grew up with kangaroos and lethal snakes and spiders in their backyards, it’s not Margot Robbie. The I, Tonya producer and actress appeared on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live where Chris Pratt was filling in as host.
Before they got onto the film, questioning turned to Robbie’s Australian heritage and whether in fact there was “creepy, crawly, poisonous, venomous things” in our country. While the actress did a fine job at denying it’s rarely a danger we think about, it was the story about her mum finding a snake in their house in Queensland that was actually terrifying for even the most outback-orientated among us.
“This one time, I was in my bratty teen years and my mum came [into my bedroom] and said, ‘Can you help me get the snake out of the house?’ and I was like, ‘Mum, I’m really busy on MSN, like, no!’. She was like, ‘It’s a big one though, can you?’ and then she went away and then ten minutes later I was like, ‘Where’s mum?’ And that’s when my mum got eaten…”
The audience broke into laughter. “No she didn’t!” Robbie continued. “I went [downstairs] and she’s on the driveway and this python was huge! It’d wrapped its way around her arm and trying to strangle her around her neck… I knew from that moment then that when mum asks to help take a snake out of the house, just do it!”
This story was bookmarked by one about Robbie’s ex-boyfriend at an outback steakhouse, her experience working behind a bar at 14-years-old and showing off her bottle-opening tricks with Pratt. So, really, Robbie is emblematic of every stereotype Americans believe Australians embody, just minus the versatile successful actress in Hollywood part.
I, Tonya is a dark comedy based on true events of the 90s, when figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a bat outside a Detroit skating rink. Despite the injury – her right leg was bruised but not broken – she went on to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway and won silver, while Harding came eighth. It was subsequently revealed that Tonya’s now ex-husband and her bodyguard hired a hitman to attack Kerrigan, and that Tonya was aware of it and conspired with them.
“I flew to meet Tonya Harding right before we started shooting and… we showed her the movie,” Robbie said. “She was so lovely, she was more worried about me than I was about her and she was like, ‘How are you going with the skating?’ And I said, ‘I mean it’s really, really hard.’” Tonya offered to take Robbie to the closest skate rink to help work on her technique. “[But] they didn’t let me bring my skates on the plane!’”
Robbie endured four months of training for the role, “four or five days a week, three or four hours per day”.
I, Tonya opens in American cinemas December 8 2017. Australian audiences will have to wait until February 2018.