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Did Margot Robbie Actually Skate In I, Tonya?

2017's "I, Tonya" brings to life several real, conflicting accounts of what happened between ice skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan when the latter was attacked in January 1994 (via History). The film is a surprisingly entertaining, often darkly funny true-crime drama, and one that attempts to portray Harding (played by Margot Robbie) as more of a victim than most familiar with the scandal would likely expect. Whether someone considers that approach to be valid or not will likely vary depending on how they feel about the case, but there's no denying that Robbie plays the part convincingly. The "Suicide Squad" actress gives a totally believable performance as Harding throughout the entirety of the film, from the scenes that see her arguing with her mother (Allison Janney) and sobbing before judges to the sequences that show the character doing what she does best: ice skating.

No matter how talented and skilled an actress Robbie might be, however, that last detail is where some questions might come up about her performance. After all, how could anyone who didn't dedicate their life to training for the sport manage to accurately imitate the skills of an Olympic-level figure skater?

No one expected Margot Robbie to perform a triple axel

Margot Robbie went into "I, Tonya" without knowing much about how to skate. "When you're a kid, you're fearless, but starting at 26 years old, I had a lot of fear," the actress told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017.

Choreographer Sarah Kawahara, who provided the choreography for the Will Ferrell-led 2007 ice skating comedy, "Blades of Glory" (via IMDb), made sure that Robbie had two doubles on set who could handle some of the hard skating work that her role required. Consequently, most of the fancy skating techniques, jumps, and fast spins that are shown in the film were actually performed by the doubles, not Robbie herself. As for the triple axel that Harding was famous for, the film's producers knew that it absolutely had to be in the movie, but only special effects could make that particular trick happen. "There's been only six women since Tonya who have done a triple axel," producer Tom Ackerley said. "Even if there was one who was doing it today, she'd be training for the Olympics and couldn't risk doing it for the film."

Despite the assistance provided by her doubles, Robbie still spent five months training on the ice to prepare for the part, and that hard work wasn't for nothing either.

Margot Robbie still put in a lot of work on the ice

As part of her training process for "I, Tonya," Margot Robbie spent hours at the skating rink each day to prepare to play the part of Tonya Harding. Working with Sarah Kawahara and a coach, Robbie eventually learned five routines well enough to impress her choreographer, but getting to that point wasn't easy. While she worked, the actress remained unsure for a long time that she'd ever master the difficult skating skills that the role required. "We were just a few weeks from shooting, and I was still struggling to find my outside edges," Robbie told The Hollywood Reporter. "I just thought I was never going to get them, and then, one day, it just clicked."

In the end, Robbie was able to skate strong and fast and perform high kicks and head rolls. She could even perform the before and after elements of the triple axel. Plenty of her own work on the ice wound up in the film, and according to Kawahara, "I, Tonya" was better for it. "Margot was really able to — as an actor — take it to the next level, and capture the moment, and capture the emotion of Tonya landing that triple axel," the choreographer told IndieWire. "So it was thrilling to see her work."