Why Margot Robbie is so perturbed by the audience reaction to the violence in her new film.

Australian actress Margot Robbie, 27, wants her latest movie to start an important conversation about domestic violence.

At first glance, it may not be what many were expecting from the movie which sees her tackle the role of Tonya Harding, an American figure skating champ who was banned from the sport after she organised a vicious attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan.

But a well as focusing on the bitter rivalry between the pair, the film also explores the volatile relationship between Tonya and her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, who hired the attacker who attempted to shatter Kerrigan’s kneecap.

In one particular scene, Jeff (played by Avengers star Sebastian Stan) punches Tonya in the face. It’s one of the few times Robbie’s character doesn’t break the fourth wall to assure the audience she’s okay.

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Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan in I, Tonya. Image via Roadshow.

"There was a particularly bad, abusive moment...the audience had such a vocal reaction to it, and I thought, 'Wow, there's no way they’ll ever forgive Jeff after this moment," Margot Robbie said, Entertainment Weekly reports.

"But only a few minutes later he has a sweet moment [with Tonya], and the whole audience went, 'Awww', like they thought he was the sweetest guy ever.

"And I thought, 'My God! You guys forgave him so quickly!'"

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Breaking the fourth wall - when a character in a movie addresses the audience directly - was a storytelling device deliberating used by director Craig Gillespie to show how disconnected and desensitised Tonya was to the repeated abuse.

"It's also a glimpse into the vicious cycle of what an abusive relationship is like, whereby it does become routine and you do become desensitised to it," Robbie said.

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"From an outside perspective, people would think, 'Why does someone still stay in an abusive relationship? Why do they still go back to that person?'

"But using these devices throughout the film, I think it shows how this cycle can keep going."

The Aussie star - who also serves as a producer on the film - has been nominated for the Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) Golden Globe thanks to the role. The film is also nominated in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) categories.

I, Tonya will released in Australian cinemas from January 25, 2018.