Disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding received an ovation after the premiere of “I, Tonya,” a dark comedy film about her life, on Tuesday night.
“I am specially excited that she got to watch it all with you,” actress Margot Robbie, who plays the film’s title role, said on stage. “Let’s give a round of applause to the woman at the center of this story, Tonya Harding.”
Harding then came on stage and received a hug from the Australian actress. Video is here.
Harding also posed for red-carpet photos at the Los Angeles premiere — it hits theaters Friday — with Robbie.
The Australian actress previously said she met Harding and that the skater was complimentary of the film and Robbie’s skating.
“I wanted there to be a clear distinction between the ‘real’ Tonya and the one I would be playing,” Robbie said, according to W Magazine. “I didn’t want to sugarcoat her. … The more I became Tonya, the more I saw things from her point of view. I’m on her side 100 percent. I don’t think she did anything but be different from what the world wanted. There are cool misfits, and then there is Tonya. She didn’t fit in. And I love that.”
The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
Harding, 47, was actually skating in October after losing weight, according to People magazine, citing an unnamed friend in People magazine.
On Jan. 6, 1994, Olympic teammate Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on the right leg by a hitman hired by Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, in Detroit, where she was preparing for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Kerrigan’s bruised right knee kept her from competing at nationals, but she recovered in time for the Lillehammer 1994 Olympics. Harding won the U.S. Championship in her absence, so both went to the Olympics.
Tonya and Nancy became a media soap opera in Lillehammer with Super Bowl-like TV ratings. Kerrigan won silver, just behind Ukrainian Oksana Baiul. Harding broke a skate lace in her long program, reskated and finished eighth.
Four months later, Harding was banned for life by U.S. Figure Skating, which concluded that she had prior knowledge of the attack.
Robbie, who co-produced the film, said she thought the saga was fiction before signing up for the movie.
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