Faking It: This Is How I, Tonya Nailed That Triple Axel

Photo: Courtesy of Neon Films.
Welcome to Faking It, our monthly guide to the magic of filmmaking. What exactly are two actors doing when they're "having sex" on camera? How do they "do drugs"? What are those phony cigarettes really made of? Join us as we explore the not-so-glamorous underground of faking sex, drugs, violence, and more.
Growing up in Canada, there was no getting around it: Every week, I laced up my white (for the first two or three lessons, at least) skates, and hit the ice. For girls, figure skating was the trendy after-school activity. For boys, it was hockey. In either case, if you didn't want to be a social pariah in late 1990s Montreal, you learned how to look semi-decent while gliding around on a frozen surface.
Full disclosure: I was pretty terrible. Unlike some of my peers, who went on to skate competitively through middle and high school, I quit after-school skating soon after elementary. I still love it as a once-a-year winter activity, but had no desire to accidentally slice my thigh open after falling on my blade as a finale to an axel jump, as one of my best friends did when we were 11.
I was three weeks shy of 4 years old when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man who struck her knee with a steel baton. I don't actually remember her lying on the floor of a Detroit arena, screaming "Why?!" I've heard about it, of course — who hasn't? But as a result, watching I, Tonya, the new black comedy about the events in Tonya Harding's life up to and after "the incident," felt like pulling the curtain back on an event I was really discovering for the first time.
One thing that felt familiar though, was the skating; not just the actual moves, but the sheer effort, time, and commitment that goes into becoming a professional skater. In 1994, Tonya Harding was one of the best in the world. And so, I wondered, how does an Australian actress like Margot Robbie, who produced I, Tonya and plays the titular role, manage to make us believe that she's got that level of skill on skates?
To find out, I spoke to Sarah Kawahara, the former Canadian figure skater, Emmy-winning choreographer and skating coordinator who trained Robbie for the film.
Twenty-four years following a scandal that rocked the world, Margot Robbie takes on the role of figure skater Tonya Harding in a behind-the-scenes story that will have you questioning what’s real, what’s fake, and how much we truly know about the controversial figures who become cultural lightning rods. I, Tonya hits cinemas everywhere February 16thth.

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