Those who watched competitive figure skating in 1994 will surely remember the drama-filled feud between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Now, more than two decades later — I, Tonya, a film starring Margot Robbie in the title role — is abuzz with Oscar talk. Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s mother, even nabbed herself a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for the part.
But it wasn’t easy transforming Robbie into Harding. In an interview with Fashionista, Makeup Department Head, Deborah La Mia Denaver, Hair Department Head, Adruitha Lee and Costume Designer, Jennifer Johnson discuss all the work it took to turn the Australian actress into the figure skater.
Though you couldn’t tell from just looking, according to Denaver, Robbie wore minimal prosthetics on her nose, cheeks and under the chin, neck and torso. Using a “reverse highlighting” technique, she widened Robbie’s nose with highlighter. “The biggest challenge to make it not look like makeup. I used adhesive — Duo [eyelash] adhesive — on the corners of her eyes to drag them down a little bit and then I drew a little line on the corners of her mouth to drag that down and tried to widen her nose with highlight. I shaded her jaw, so it would drag down and come forward more,” Denaver told Fashionista.
Seeing as ’90s fashion is back with a vengeance, the designers were also cautious about the costumes not looking like an ironic homage to the era. “It very easily goes into this ‘millennial hipster’ [look]. We explored that in the fitting [with Robbie] where we went too far and it suddenly felt like an ironic, very on-the-nose fashion moment that felt too contemporary and felt really funny. So we would always pull it back,” said Johnson.
Additionally, the team custom-made all of Robbie’s scrunchies — the It hair accessory of the ’90s (and arguably now). Turns out, Robbie was a fan and even wore them off-set, she revealed in a red carpet eTalk interview. “I rock my mom jeans all the time,” Robbie said. “Since doing [I,] Tonya, I’ve walked back into that kind of era and I’m dressing all ’90s at the moment.”
What Robbie’s not rocking post-filming? The over-fried wigs. Curled with extra-tight rod at-home drugstore kits, the wigs mimicked Harding’s frizzy ponytail and extra feathered bangs.
The team did so well in recreating the looks that the film garnered Bafta nominations in both Best Makeup and Hair and Best Costume Design.
We’ll probably be leaving our bejeweled leotards in the ’90s but we’re with Margot on scrunchies and mom jeans — for now, at least.