Allison Janney auditioned three birds top join her in I, Tonya

February 21, 2018 GMT

Allison Janney “auditioned three” birds to work with her in ‘I, Tonya’.

The 58-year-old actress stars as real life person LaVona Golden, the abusive mother to the disgraced American Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding [Margot Robbie] in the new movie by Craig Gillespie, and for certain scenes she needed a pet bird on her shoulder during shooting.

Janney - who won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her performance last Sunday (02.18.18) - admits it was surreal to star with the parakeet that was cast but felt she and the chosen one known as Little Man ended up being a “good duo”.

She told Time Out London magazine: “There’s real footage of LaVona with a bird on her shoulder. I auditioned three. A couple kept crawling up my hair. Little Man just sat on my shoulder and hung out. When we started shooting he kept pecking at me. It p***ed me off but fuelled my performance. We ended up being a good duo.”

Janney found LaVona a fascinating person to portray and is convinced that she didn’t consider herself to be a “horrible” mother but instead a parent who gave her daughter opportunities.

She said: “I wanted to show a three-dimensional woman. She didn’t think she was horrible. She thought she gave her daughter opportunities.”

‘I, Tonya’ documents the life of infamous skater Tonya, whose now-ex-husband Jeff Gilooly plotted with her bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt to take out her rival Nancy Kerrigan by breaking her right leg at the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships in Detroit in an attempt to stop her competing at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

Although the blow - which was struck above Kerrigan’s right knee - did not result in a breakage, Kerrigan was left with a severely bruised leg and had to quit the national competition, which Harding went on to win.

The attack caused a media frenzy that was known as ‘The Whack Heard Around The World’.

But Kerrigan did go on to compete at the Winter Olympics where she won a Silver Medal, whereas Harding finished eighth.

The assailant, Shane Stant, was paid $6,500 to carry out the attack and was subsequently caught by police and his testimony led to the arrest of Gillooly and Eckhardt, who both served prison time.

Harding was also arrested and given a lifetime ban from the sport by the US Figure Skating Association in 1994.