'I, Tonya' star Allison Janney says Tonya Harding was 'misjudged'

"She had a lot of questionable characters in her life," Janney said of Harding.

December 11, 2017, 10:10 AM

— -- Allison Janney has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Tonya Harding’s mom, LaVona Golden, in the film “I, Tonya.” The actress learned of the honor right after appearing on “Good Morning America” today.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Janney, 58, said on “GMA” right after the news broke.

Janney said she did not meet Golden or Harding at all during the filming process, but seeing Harding for the first time on the red carpet almost made her cry.

“I almost started crying,” she recalled. “She was crying; she was so overwhelmed, and when I saw her I was speechless and I wanted to hug her. She came up to me and said what a great job I did portraying her mother.”

Janney said she thinks Harding was “misjudged a bit,” being portrayed as a villain in the Nancy Kerrigan scandal.

“I thought one thing about her and now I think something altogether different,” said the actress. “Having done the movie, I have a lot more empathy for her."

VIDEO: Allison Janney opens up about 'I, Tonya'
VIDEO: Allison Janney opens up about 'I, Tonya'

“I think she was portrayed as one thing,” she added. “This was the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, and they put it out there that she was evil and Nancy [Kerrigan] was the princess. But then when you see, there’s a lot more nuance to it. While the movie doesn’t completely exonerate her, it does make you question what exactly her hand in all of that was. She had a lot of questionable characters in her life. You just have to see it. It’s unbelievable. You think, ‘Maybe I misjudged her a bit.’ I think she was misjudged a bit.”

Janney also said that being cast in “I, Tonya” was a “perfect fit” for her as she had childhood dreams of becoming an Olympic figure skater.

“My first dream, before even thinking I wanted to be an actress, I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater,” she said. “My parents, God bless them, they would get up at 5 in the morning and take me to the rink before school in the morning and then after school I’d come and skate, so it was a dream of mine. However I was not that good. I was very graceful but I’m too tall. It’s an acrobatic sport. You’ve got to hurl yourself into three revolutions in the air.”

Ultimately Janney “gave it up and went to college” and it “all worked out,” she said with a laugh.

"I, Tonya,” which has earned a Golden Globe nomination for best motion picture in a musical or comedy, is in theaters now.

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