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Why Sebastian Stan Was Mortified To Play A Real Person in I, Tonya

Sebastian Stan has admitted that he was mortified to to play a real person for the first time when he was cast as Jeff Gillooly in 2017’s I, Tonya 

Sebastian Stan has admitted that he was mortified to to play a real person when he was cast in 2017’s I, Tonya. Stan is certainly known these days as the actor who plays Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Stan is one of those actors to have had an extensive career both inside and out of the MCU, getting to work with prestigious directors such as Darren Aronofsky in Black Swan, and Steven Soderbergh in Logan Lucky. Many may also remember Stan’s somehow equally hilarious and upsetting performance as Jeff Gillooly in I, Tonya.

I, Tonya tells the real life story (somewhat) of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (played by Margot Robbie). As many may remember, Harding was embroiled in a scandal back in 1994 just before she was set to appear in that year’s Winter Olympics, which involved Harding’s ex-husband Gillooly (played by Stan in the film) orchestrating an attack on Harding’s fellow U.S. skating rival Nancy KerriganI, Tonya cleverly tells this upsetting tale by showing what “might” have happened, as the facts given by those interviewed about the real event vary wildly and often contradict each other. Much of I, Tonya is actually told through recreations of these interviews, in which most characters place the blame for the attack on each other.


Related: The True Story Behind I, Tonya

During an interview for Vanity Fair in which Stan breaks down his career, he admits that he was mortified to play a real life character in I, Tonya. Stan admits that much of this feeling came from the fact that at the time he was cast in I, Tonya, he had “never played a real person before.” Stan went on to say that he “certainly didn’t live his life,” indicating that he did not have much experience to draw on when playing the abusive Gillooly. Stan has stated that playing the character was also a daunting task as, despite the incident becoming a major news event, Stan was not aware of it until he read the script. See his full quote below:

“It was such a well written script. It was so unbelievable. It was funny, and yet brutal and it was an insane story that I didn’t even know about. And obviously getting to meet Margot and having a few chemistry reads with her, it just felt like this is a really great company of people telling this important story and finding a way to do it in a very unique, different way than we’ve seen before so…at the time, I’d never played a real person before so I was mortified and I certainly didn’t live his life. And I don’t, I didn’t remember that when I was growing up as a kid in the 90s.”

Sebastian Stan and Margot Robbie in I Tonya

Stan went on to say that what really helped him get over his fears was the script written by Steven Rogers (who is ironically named given Stan’s connection to the MCU). Stan has stated that not only had Rogers written an amazing script, but had gone and interviewed Harding and Gillooly himself, and was able to provide Stan tapes of these interviews. Stan also spent a lot of time in Portland where the couple lived together, visiting locations that had significance to Harding and Gillooly.

Ultimately, many fans of I, Tonya will be happy that Stan got over his fear of playing the role, as his performance is integral to what makes the film so special for audiences. His uncertainty never shows on screen, cementing Stan as an actor who will jump headfirst into any challenge he is given. Jeff Gillooly may be a real person, but for many, Stan’s will be the face that people picture when that name comes up. Perhaps from now on, Stan will have more confidence the next time he is asked to play a real person.

More: How Tall Is Sebastian Stan?

Source: Vanity Fair

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