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During Austin Film Festival, the script reading for “The Ice Queens”, written by Amy Talkington, took place and depicts a look inside the volatile, and surprisingly vulnerable, mind of Tonya Harding exposes how 90s pop culture and media inspired and ensnared her and Nancy Kerrigan into an epic and infamous rivalry.
Participating in the script reading were Amy Talkington (Screenplay), Director Charlie McDowell, Producer Matt Smith, and the cast Zosia Mamet, Alexandra Daddario, Katherine Willis, Zach Knighton, Laura Flannery, Blaise Miller, Elizabeth Trieu, Austin Alexander, Bill Wise, and Merrilee McCommas.
I spoke with the two leads, Zosia Mamet, who is reading as Tonya Harding, and Alexandra Daddario, reading as Nancy Kerrigan).
What attracted you to the role?
Alexandra Daddario: A couple of things, I loved the cast, the director and the script and the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan is endlessly fascinating. You couldn’t have written something better than what actually happened. I thought it would be fun to come and be part of something like this.
Zosia Mamet: I’ve always wanted to play Tonya Harding actually. She is sort of this singular character that I feel like we haven’t really seen in a sense, she was a human that had such exceptional ability and had this dream that she kind of untangled out of her own hands by being so consumed with the jealously and what’s going on with the people around her. She created a lot of her own road blocks. Just this moment in this time in our history, I feel like something like this hasn’t really happened since. We were talking about social media and if the platforms today existed then, it would have been a totally different thing, it kind of took our nation and the world by storm a little and it stopped everything else. I think Amy has written a really exceptionally strong and rich script that really captures and to me, it’s one of the best stories that ever existed. In one of the Documentaries, a lot of people are recorded saying if someone would have pitched this script as a make-believe script, no one would buy it because it’s so far-fetched. In so many ways, it’s true, its so bizarre.
How much research was involved to prepare for this?
Alexandra Daddario: A bit, I watched the documentary, the ESPN: 30 for 30 documentary. I had never seen the tape right before Kerrigan was injured. That was cool to see. Also, researched where the two were at now in their lives.
Zosia Mamet: I watched all the docs and worked a lot with Amy to prepare, the usual.
I know this was the early 90’s, but were you aware of the situation at the time it was happening?
Alexandra Daddario: I was too young at the time it was happening, it’s just one of those things I learned at some point, I don’t remember when I did. Its one of those things that everyone sort of knows, because it’s so unbelievable. I think Tonya Harding might quietly be one of the most famous people of America, just because everyone knows who she is. She’s become some sort of pop-cultural lore.
What are your thoughts on life events being told through movies or TV now. For example, The People vs OJ was such a huge hit, despite the events taking place 20 years ago. Can the same thing happen with the story they’re telling with Ice Queens?
Alexandra Daddario: I think there is a reason why it was fascinating at the time that it happened and why it attracted the public’s interested. If you can tell this story even though i’m not sure its great for the people involved, but you can dramatize it or put a twist on it and it’s still just a story and there are a lot of things to learn from these stories, so I think it’s great we get to tell these stories over and over. I think that’s what great about film festivals like this, it’s that it helps support films, and scripts and filmmakers take it to the next level.
Zosia Mamet: The thing that attracts me the most to a project or something I want to partake in as a viewer is just watching human existence. Whether it’s messy human existence or beautiful. There is something in particular to real-life being brought in with movie magic and that is available for mass consumption especially if there is moments in history that we all sort of remember and have some sort of connection to. That to me heightens our enjoyment and consumption of it. We are all looking at it through a cipher that is already created in our minds because we recall the actual event and it just adds a layer and makes it richer. We aren’t creating it in the moment in our minds, we have already had the experience and now its being shown to us again. I think being able to explore the different perspectives is also really special. So often when something happens in real-time or real-life, we only get one version of it. To be able to explore these moments, like in The People Vs. O.J, we saw that from so many different angles. I feel like that adds to the experience.