What The ‘I, Tonya’ Characters Look Like In Real Life, Compared To The Movie’s Cast

The 2018 Golden Globe-winning film I, Tonya is based on the real-life story of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. The film's costumes are incredible, and what the I, Tonya characters looked like in real life was just as terrifically '90s and just as authentically Oregonian. Harding was embroiled in a bizarre scandal that resulted in the kneecapping of teammate Nancy Kerrigan and Harding's dismissal from professional figure skating, and the film was expertly timed for a wide release just weeks before the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

According to Vulture, Adruitha Lee, the hairstylist for I, Tonya, drew inspiration for the characters' hair and makeup from real-life footage and an ESPN 30 for 30 special called The Price of Gold. When you see the cast of I, Tonya side-by-side with their real-life counterparts, the similarities (and differences) are striking. More than one person seems directly lifted from archival footage and plunked onto the film set. Months after the film first screened for critics, actor Sebastian Stan still won't say whether he actually had to grow the Jeff Gillooly mustache.

This is what the stars of I, Tonya looked like IRL, compared to the movie's cast. It will really make you appreciate all the work that went into Margot Robbie's yellow, permed wig. Also, yes, LaVona Harding (later Golden) genuinely did sit for an interview with an oxygen tank on the couch and a pet bird on her shoulder.

1. Tonya Harding

Photo credits: Neon; Phil Cole/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Harding's appearance contributed to her infamy, as her permed hair, blue nail polish, and muscular body type seemed out-of-place for the more "traditional" world of figure skating. That the regal Robbie was able to physically transform into the many iterations of Harding — including early '00s female boxer — is astounding. She nailed Harding's physicality, her brusqueness, and her surprising vulnerability. But it's the frizzy hair, and the never-quite-right shade of lipstick that's really the crowning glory here.

2. Jeff Gillooly

Photo credits: Neon; ABC News

As Gillooly's character, played in the film by Stan, explains: He'll always be connected to that ridiculous mustache. The real Gillooly didn't quite have Stan's boyish looks hiding behind it, but the I, Tonya crew did a pretty good job with this one.

3. LaVona Harding Golden

Photo credits: Neon; ABC News

Allison Janney's look as Tonya's allegedly abusive mother was modeled on the interview Harding (by then, Golden) gave to ESPN in the '90s. Her closely-cropped bowl cut, oversized glasses, and general air of disdain are something to behold — both in The Price of Gold and I, Tonya. It's difficult to find footage of the original interviews, but a more glamorous-looking Golden did her own press tour in the '90s to clear her name.

4. Nancy Kerrigan

Photo credits: Neon; Phil Cole/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Kerrigan was everything Harding wasn't, or wasn't presumed to be: She was elegant and had a wholesome family image supporting her. Actor Caitlin Carver, best known for recurring roles in Dear White People and The Fosters, nailed Kerrigan's harrowing wail, which was the "Why?" heard around the world in 1994. Also, her bushy ponytail could rival Tonya's. She looks just like her.

5. Shawn Eckhardt

Photo credits: Neon; ABC News

The similarities between the real-life Shawn Eckhardt and his portrayal by Paul Walter Hauser in the movie are beyond astonishing. You'll have to do a quadruple-take to process that these slides are not of the same person, but of a real person and an actor channeling said person more than two decades later. Also, those sweaters.

The case of the 1994 attack on Kerrigan is legendary for so many reasons, including its mystery and its frightening truth. So many elements were in play — Olympic politics, figure skating, violence, class, tabloid fixtures — this would be a story that would captivate not just America, but the world.

While fans may never know exactly how much involvement Harding had in Kerrigan's assault, I, Tonya is a darkly comedic take on the story from everyone but Kerrigan's point of view. It also did an amazing job of recreating the most iconic, often iconically weird, '90s looks.