Variety: Sebastian Stan Talks Jeff Gilooly, Mustaches and ‘I, Tonya’

Variety: Sebastian Stan Talks Jeff Gilooly, Mustaches and ‘I, Tonya’

The story of figure skater Tonya Harding is so outrageous that the actress who portrays her, Margot Robbie, can be forgiven for not realizing it was a true tale when she first read the script. Harding, her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard Shawn Eckhart were implicated in an attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Olympics, and the media coverage was relentless. In telling her story, screenwriter Steven Rogers spent time with both Harding and Gillooly and utilizes their different versions of the events to tell a funny, insightful and very human story. Best known for his work in such blockbusters as “The Martian” and as Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes in the “Captain America” films, Sebastian Stan completely transformed himself to play Gillooly, a man who sported a mustache he “can’t apologize enough for.”

Stan: “I remember hearing the story of Tonya and Nancy when it happened, but I think I was 10 and not really aware of what happened. I was in Europe back then and I can still remember seeing Tonya Harding’s face on the news. That gives you an idea how much they were recycling that footage and how prevalent it was everywhere.

“My agent sent me the script to ‘I, Tonya’ last year. From an actor’s perspective, the script was like finding gold. Not a lot of things like this come my way. It had this documentary style and so many funny elements, but also these very scary, violent sequences. I’ve never played anyone that was a real person before, so that excited me. I immediately went online and looked him up and found an episode of ‘Inside Edition’ with him and it was such an interesting character study. He was fascinating. I was bouncing ideas around with Craig and getting excited and then I had a moment where I realized this is a true story and these are real people and their lives were ruined by this. I’ve learned through the years to keep a rein on judging characters. It’s very easy to do that.

“The day I got the part, Craig said, ‘If you want to meet Jeff, you can. But you don’t have to.’ But I wanted to get some perspective. Tonya’s upbringing was out in the open, it was known she had a violent past and she was somewhat replaying her past. But with Jeff, I couldn’t really find anything on his upbringing. In addition, I was going to have to play him when he was 50 years old. I didn’t even have a picture of what he looks like.

“Two weeks before shooting, I met with him. It was bizarre sitting across from the person you’ve been looking at and listening to. I had the tapes from his meeting with Steven and had been listening to him over and over again. It was surreal at first. We met at a restaurant and had dinner. He seemed apprehensive, he hadn’t read the script and I think he was hesitant about revisiting it. At the same time, he was open and direct in talking about the experience and himself. I asked a lot of questions: ‘How did you meet? How did you fall in love? Why the mustache?’ He really didn’t have an answer for that one, I don’t think he gave it a lot of thought.

“Working with Margot was a dream come true. We laughed, we cried, we were exhausted at some points. There’s a scene with a gun that loomed large in my mind; I was always sort of dreading it because I knew it would be difficult emotionally. We shot it over and over again. we have so many versions of it. There are chaotic versions and slow versions and we did some improvising. We went from over–the-top to subtle, just trying to find it. Margot was very inspiring to be around during difficult times in the sense she had a positive attitude about the whole thing. We shot it in 30 days and they were long days with a lot on her plate and she kept showing up and having the best attitude. It inspired and motivated you.”

Source: Variety.com

Esquire: Sebastian Stan Talks ‘I, Tonya’ Movie, Winter Soldier Character and Playing Luke Skywalker

Esquire: Sebastian Stan Talks ‘I, Tonya’ Movie, Winter Soldier Character and Playing Luke Skywalker

In January of this year, while filming I, Tonya, Sebastian Stan dropped into a bar to meet up with a bunch of his Marvel co-stars in Atlanta. These are people he’s known since at least 2010, when he was cast as Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger, a film that propelled one of the biggest movie franchises in modern history and Stan’s own career. Since that first Captain America film, he’s repeated the role in its two sequels; he’s also slated to appear in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, which began filming earlier this year. He’s pretty good friends with some of the most recognizable superhero movie stars on the planet. They’re his people.

But when he walked into the middle of the bar, no one knew who the hell he was.

“I went and stood in the center of where everyone was hanging out and I realized that no one recognized me,” Stan says. “I had this haircut that was really high, a mustache and no sideburns, and I was very pale. I stood there for a minute before I went up to someone and was like, ‘Hey, it’s me.’”

You can’t really blame them, either. In I, Tonya, Stan looks almost nothing like the rugged and brooding Bucky Barnes. He transforms into the slimy Jeff Gillooly, Tonya Harding’s estranged husband and a figure skating villain who served time in prison for his involvement in the infamous attack on Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Along with the short hair and mustache, Stan assumes Gillooly’s meek-until-explosive temperament and his soft, delicate voice. It’s a chilling likeness to the man who helped destroy the career of one of the greatest figure skaters of all time—but allowed her to take most of the public’s blame.

In fact, if I hadn’t known it was Stan playing Gillooly, I might not have even recognized the world-famous Marvel actor—a confession he’s glad to hear.

“You’re always hoping to disappear in something,” Stan says, accepting the compliment. In order to dive deep into the character, he spent a month and a half listening to interviews with Jeff Gillooly. He also watched any footage he could find, and he eventually traveled to Portland, Oregon, where he spent three hours chatting with Gillooly—who changed his name to Jeff Stone—at a nice Mexican restaurant in town.

Stan admits he was nervous to meet the almost-forgotten Gillooly; one might imagine Jeff Stone might have had the same trepidation. “At that point, the only thing I really cared about was physicality, mannerisms, anything that I could see that I picked up from him,” Stan says. “The first thing he asked me was, ‘Why would anyone want to do this? Why would anyone want to see this movie? Why did you decide that you want to be in this movie?’ My impression was that it must be very strange for him to want to revisit that story. I don’t think it’s anything that he wants to talk about.”

Yet the Tonya Harding saga, all these years later, is still something a lot of people really do want to talk about. I, Tonya, which takes a surprisingly comic approach to the figure skater’s life story, is framed by interviews with its leading players. Presented as talking heads in a faux-documentary, Margot Robbie’s Harding, Stan’s Gillooly, and Allison Janney’s LaVona Fay Golden (Harding’s mother) take turns narrating the larger story of Harding’s rise and fall—and then another rise and fall—in competitive figure skating, culminating in Harding’s ultimately disappointing performance in Lillehammer and her ban from the United States Figure Skating Association.

This Rashomon-style take on a salacious tabloid story attempts to show that, beyond the media frenzy that abused Harding’s image and laid the groundwork for what became our exhausting and overwhelming 24-hour news cycle, the story of the events are still somewhat complicated. “There’s no such thing as truth. I mean, It’s bullshit,” Robbie’s Harding says in the film. The unreliable narrators only reiterate that theme, with conflicting accounts of the attack on Kerrigan, the abuse Harding suffered from her mother and her husband, and the subjectivity with which Harding’s many judges viewed her athleticism and class standing. Continue reading

Cinema Blend: The ‘I, Tonya’ Moment That Sebastian Stan Was Surprised To Learn Was Actually Real

Cinema Blend: The ‘I, Tonya’ Moment That Sebastian Stan Was Surprised To Learn Was Actually Real

CinemaBlend.com — Director Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya is very upfront about the weird and contradictory nature of the true story behind its narrative — but it also features no shortage of “stranger than fiction” moments. There is not only a lot that is verifiable truth in the film, but a lot of that same material is also batshit insane. One perfect example is a scene where Jeff Gillooly drives for hours just to hurl an insult at Tonya — which was a sequence that actor Sebastian Stan couldn’t believe actually happened when he first read the script. He recently told me,

I had a lot of moments where I was really blown away by some of the scenes, because I just thought, ‘It’s just kind of ridiculous.’ I didn’t understand how anybody could be capable of doing those things — particularly the scene where Jeff and Tonya are on the phone, and they’re fighting, and she’s eight hours away in a different place. And he winds up driving eight hours just to say, ‘Fuck you!’ to her.

 I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sebastian Stan earlier this month during the Los Angeles press day for I, Tonya, and had the chance to pick his brain a bit about the true story that inspired the movie. I specifically asked if there were any scenes he couldn’t believe were really real when he was preparing to play the infamous Jeff Gillolly, and he selected what is certainly one hell of a weird moment from the film.

In the comedy/drama, Jeff (Sebastian Stan) and Tonya (Margot Robbie) have a volatile relationship that often leads to messy fights, and at one point they decide to break up. Jeff, staying with his friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser), tries to call her and patch things up, but every time he does he gets a quick, “Fuck you,” and she hangs up. Despite the fact that she is in a training facility eight hours away, he gets in the car with Sean, drives, and then gets satisfaction when he screams at her from a balcony, ‘No, fuck you!” It’s a very strange sequence, but apparently entirely real.

Sebastian Stan sees the humor of the scene as part of the genius of the I, Tonyascript — a great example of the very strange sense of humor. There is a great deal in the story that really isn’t funny (there is a lot of horrible physical and emotional abuse featured), but at the same time you really can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of some of it. Said Stan,

But that was the irony of this script that was really interesting, just balancing the humor and then also tragedy, and also that there was so much sadness in these characters that were to some extent also funny.

You can watch the I, Tonya star talk about Jeff Gillooly’s crazy drive by clicking play on the Sebastian Stan video below!

Collider: Sebastian Stan on ‘I, Tonya’, Working with Margot Robbie, and ‘Avengers 4’

Collider: Sebastian Stan on ‘I, Tonya’, Working with Margot Robbie, and ‘Avengers 4’

Collide.com — Directed by Craig Gillespie and based on unbelievable true events, the darkly comedic I, Tonya tells the story of American figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, in a truly stand-out performance and one of the best of 2017), who went from being the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition to being a part of one of the most sensational and infamous scandals in sports history. Harding’s career as a skater was as challenging as her home life, and even though she had some major highs that made you want to root for her, she seemingly just couldn’t get out of her own way.  

At the film’s Los Angeles press day, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with actor Sebastian Stan (who gives a terrific performance as Harding’s mustachioed and impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly) to chat 1-on-1 about why he wanted to play this character, what he was most excited and most nervous about, the impression he got from meeting Jeff Gillooly, having Margot Robbie as a scene partner, and what it means to be a part of the awards conversation with this film. He also talked about how things are going on Avengers 4, the insanity of the 10-year anniversary party that took eight months to plan, and why he feels so blessed right now. 

Collider:  When you read a script this good and a character that you know will be great to play, it must be so hard to not that still have to audition and not know whether you’ll get the role. 

SEBASTIAN STAN:  That’s a good question. I haven’t heard that one yet. Yeah, it is hard. You do get attached to it, absolutely. You recognize that it’s a good script, and if it’s a good script, you know you’re not the only one going after it. I’ve been in so many crazy experiences in my life. I was always moving, when I was a kid. When I look back, it’s hard for me not to feel that certain things just happen for a reason. I don’t know. I have no other explanation. After I had a Skype with Craig [Gillespie], I didn’t think I was gonna get this part because they were talking to a way bigger name, and it was gonna go that way. I only heard, three weeks after my Skype with him, that they were still interested in auditioning me. That’s when it started.  

Once you signed on for this role, what were you most excited about getting to do with this character and what were you most nervous about?  

STAN: There was a lot of nerves. Excited and nervous go hand in hand. Because it was a real person and a real incident, it seemed like there was a huge mountain of information to tackle. I had to really be a detective and go out there and find everything out, so that’s what I did for a month and a half. I scavaged the internet and I watched every single performance I could find of her skating, just to see if I could capture a glimpse of Jeff on the side ‘cause there was not a lot on him. I got as much as I could, and then I met with him, and that was helpful.  

Meeting Jeff Gillooly must have been weird. 

STAN:  It was very weird, only ‘cause I felt like I was living with him on my TV, and then suddenly he had materialized in front of me, except 25 years later. But it was important because I had to play him from 20 to 50, so I needed to see where he is, whether he regrets things, how he feels now, looking back, what he looks like now and whether he took care of himself. There were all of these questions.  

Did he express whether he feels like he’s a very different person now and that all of that is long behind him? 

STAN:  I don’t know that he said that, but I know he felt very regretful about how things ended and about how things went down. He’s not a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. He keeps things very close to himself. He’s very hard to read, in certain ways. I think it’s very sensitive for him to revisit that time.  

That’s probably not a time in his life he wants to relive, especially with a movie.  

STAN:  If you’re changing your name, yeah.  

The relationship between Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly is very intense and volatile, at times. What was it like to have Margot Robbie to go through this with? 

STAN:  I couldn’t have asked for a better scene partner. I really enjoyed working with her. I thought she brought out the best in me, and I like to think that we brought out the best in each other. There’s a great sense of trust there. I knew Margot was feeling good about just taking it to where it needed to go. If we needed to improvise somewhere, we could improvise. If we needed to turn up the volume on the violence, we could do that. If we needed to find the humor there, we could do that. It was a very open dialogue and a continuous communication between us, which was important.   Continue reading

Video: ‘I, Tonya’ Interviews with Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan & Allison Janney

Video: ‘I, Tonya’ Interviews with Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan & Allison Janney

Photos: New York Times Portrait Session

Photos: New York Times Portrait Session

Check out these fantastic outtakes of Sebastian from his portrait session with The New York Times. So handsome. 🙂

New York Times: Sebastian Stan Just Likes to Watch

New York Times: Sebastian Stan Just Likes to Watch

The actor Sebastian Stan sat at a window table in the Sea Grill restaurant on a recent Tuesday afternoon, overlooking the skating rink at Rockefeller Center.

“We used to come into the city a lot when I was a kid,” said Mr. Stan, 35, recalling the years when he lived with his mother and stepfather in Nyack, N.Y., and was a student at Rockland Country Day School. “Especially around the holidays, this was the best place to come.”

As he spoke and glanced quickly at the lunch menu, deciding on salmon tartare and sparkling water, a steady stream of nervous-looking skaters passed by, several tumbling to the ice. At one point, a young girl, swaddled in a bright-pink winter coat, stopped in front of the restaurant window, tightly gripped the railing and burst into tears as her mother gently — and unsuccessfully — tried to lure her back to the ice

Mr. Stan was asked if he had skated here.

“I’ve never been ice skating, ever,” he said. “I’m traumatized by the idea of it. Look, see those kids out there, falling. I keep thinking that I’m going to fall, and then someone is going to come by and slash my wrists off with one of their blades. So I’m much happier on the sidelines, as a spectator.”

It’s a surprising admission from someone whose new film, “I, Tonya,” opening later this month, is all about the world of ice skating — in particular, the 1994 Winter Olympics, the toxic rivalry between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, and the famous kneecapping incident that sent Ms. Kerrigan to the floor, screaming, “Why me?”

Mr. Stan, perhaps best known to film audiences as Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. the Winter Soldier) in Marvel’s “Captain America” films and the coming “Avengers: Infinity War,” plays Jeff Gillooly, Ms. Harding’s husband at the time and one of the bumbling accomplices in the tabloid-ready crime. (In 1994, Mr. Gillooly was sentenced to two years in jail and fined $100,000 for his role in that incident; he was released in 1995. Ms. Harding was put on probation for three years and banned for life by the United States Skating Association.

It is not a particularly sympathetic role. In fact, Mr. Stan, in character as Mr. Gillooly, is introduced to the film’s viewers in an early scene in which he looks directly into the camera and says: “At 27 I was the most hated man in America. Maybe the world — with a mustache I still can’t apologize enough for. My name was a verb. Like, if you bash someone in the kneecap, you ‘Gillooly’ them.” (Margot Robbie plays Tonya in the Oscar-buzzy movie, which was directed by Craig Gillespie.)

Was there any trepidation about taking on the role of this somewhat unsavory character, one who is not only a comically inept criminal but is also part of a mutually abusive relationship that the film portrays unflinchingly?

“I’ve gotten really good at not judging characters,” Mr. Stan said. “You have that fear of ‘God, I don’t know if I can do this.’ But the script was intriguing. And regardless of what I thought happened, and what judgments I had about all that, I just had to let it go, and trust the script. My job as an actor is to just tell the story as best I can, from my character’s point of view, and let the audience decide.”

There was, however, one person who was puzzled that Mr. Stan had taken this role: Mr. Gillooly.

Shortly before filming began earlier this year, the two met at a restaurant in Portland, Ore., where Mr. Gillooly and Ms. Harding first met and where Mr. Gillooly still lives. As Mr. Stan recalled, “The first thing Jeff said to me, when I sat down, was, ‘Why would anyone want to do this? Who would want to see this thing?’”

Mr. Stan’s answer?

“I told him it was a really great script.”

Continue reading

Video: TimesTalks ScreenTimes | “I, Tonya” with Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Craig Gillespie

Photos: The New York Times presents ScreenTimes ‘I, Tonya’ discussion + Portrait Session

Photos: The New York Times presents ScreenTimes ‘I, Tonya’ discussion + Portrait Session

On November 29th, Sebastian and his I, Tonya co-star Margot Robbie were joined by the film’s director Craig Gillespie as they discussed the film during ScreenTimes hosted by The New York Times. You can view photos from the event and the portrait session which took place before the event in the gallery now.

Another big thank you to my friend Nikie of Carrie Underwood Fan for the photos.

Video: Sebastian Stan Talks ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ & Graffiting Chris Evans’ Face with MTV News

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