Margot Robbie will bring the story of Tonya Harding to the big screen in "I, Tonya." The biopic will chronicle the rise and fall of the figure skater, who was stripped of her victory at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championship and banned for life from the sport in 1994.
Steven Rogers wrote the script after conducting extensive interviews with Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. The Australian actress Robbie is spearheading the search for a director and will serve as a producer under her LuckyChap Entertainment banner.
Harding rose to fame from a poor and rough childhood in Portland, Oregon. She started skating at age three and would practice at local public rinks unlike most professional figure skaters who are raised in wealthy families that can afford private ice time and trainers.
The figure skater achieved her top success in 1991, winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championship and coming in second at the World Championships behind Kristi Yamaguchi. At the U.S. Championships, she landed her first triple axel in competition, the first ever by an American woman, and landed it again at the World Championships, the first woman to ever complete the jump at an international event.
Harding's fall from grace came in 1994 in the lead up to the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. At the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, her main team competitor Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Shane Stant, who was hired by Gillooly and Harding's bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt. The attack kept Kerrigan from competing and Harding won the U.S. Championship.
The attack caused a media frenzy around both women as they prepared for the '94 Olympics. News crews followed them everywhere from their homes to practice sessions. Kerrigan took the silver medal behind Oksana Baiul from the Ukraine while Harding finished eighth.
In March 1994, Harding pleaded guilty for conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers on Kerrigan. She received three years of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. The plea bargain also forced her to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and to resign from U.S. Figure Skating (USFSA). The governing body later conducted its own investigation into the attack and stripped Harding of her 1994 U.S. Championship title and banned her for life from any USFSA-run events as a skater or coach.