I, Tonya has received plenty of praise for Margot Robbie’s performance, but the biopic has also drawn fire for presenting domestic abuse in what critics call a flippant or sensationalized manner. In a new interview with the New York Times, Robbie disagrees, saying that the filmmakers’ intent was to normalize the abuse, emphasizing how routine the violence against Harding had become in her real life. “Craig had the very clever idea of breaking the fourth wall in those specific moments so that you can see her emotionally disconnect from what’s happening to her physically at the time,” said Robbie, who said that watching old footage of the former figure skater showed a teenager who confronted abuse as a real and typical part of her upbringing. She added:
She’s very candid and vulnerable, and insecure. She’s just looking at the camera, saying, “My mom’s an alcoholic, and she hits me, and she beats me.” The worst thing [about] a domestically abusive relationship is that it’s a vicious cycle. And you see her go back to [her first husband, Jeff Gillooly] time and time again. We wanted to emphasize that this is a cycle and this is so routine for her, because it’s happened her whole life. She can emotionally disconnect in that moment and speak to the audience, completely matter-of-factly.
As far as the subject of the story is concerned, Harding approves of the film, and has called Allison Janney’s turn as her abusive mother “hilarious.”