The groundbreaking film has earned a trio of Oscar nominations (for Margot Robbie and Alison Janney's performances, plus for its editing), but we'd like to throw in our own extra nomination for best Makeup and Hairstyling, especially considering the unique challenges the team faced when recreating the sparkly villain.
"It was tough because a hairdresser wants to make hair look good, to make it look shiny and healthy, and we had to do the opposite of all that to get Tonya Harding's authentic look," hairstylist Adruitha Lee told Refinery29. "We had to tell the story, and correctly interpret the hair. So many people have tried to get the look and have missed, but I wanted to get it right because I didn't want anything to distract from the story, or distract Margot from trying to become Tonya."
On Saving Margot Robbie's Real Hair
The I, Tonya cast had to film the entire movie, more than 250 scenes, in a short 31 days. So each day of shooting, the team was transforming Robbie to a different stage of Tonya's life — and Tonya's hair. Because Lee didn't want to fry Robbie's natural strands, she used wigs... lots of wigs. "Her real hair wouldn't have survived it," Lee said. "Just dealing with the wigs, that was a challenge in itself. I would perm and colour the wigs over and over again to get the texture, that permed crunchy look that we had back in the late '80s and early '90s. That look was very popular at the time, but Tonya Harding took it to a whole new level — so we had to really fry the wigs."
The Unexpected Styling Product They Relied On
After trying tonnes of sprays and mousses, Lee's team couldn't find a product that gave the hair the right crunch. So they got creative — and cracked open a cold one. "To set the hair, we didn't use setting lotions or mousse — we used beer — as crazy as that sounds," Lee told us. "Beer gives the hair that texture that you see when you flash back to '80s music videos. So we'd take a can of beer, let it sit out so it went flat, pour it over the hair, let the hair air-dry, and that was the look. There's no way that we could've gotten the fringe to stand up the way that we did, or the way they used to, with just a regular mousse."
The One Accessory Margot Robbie Kept After Filming
According to Lee, the closer the team got to recreating Tonya's hair, the better Robbie could channel her character on screen. And, surprisingly enough, Robbie started wearing Tonya's accessories off set, too. "I remember when Margot was leaving set and just wanted to pull her hair back, we'd give her one of the 'Tonya' scrunchies and she fell in love with them," Lee said. "We actually gave her a bunch by the end of the movie because she liked them so much." Maybe one trend will make a comeback after all...