Fast Interviews with Fast Girls (and a guy)
As I’m a runner, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a little excited about the new movie Fast Girls, about a women’s 4 x 100m relay team (head on over to my other site Spikes and Heels to read a full review). Last week I had a chance to meet some of the cast for a chinwag. We talked about training, the rarity of having four female leads and what their event would be if they were competing in the Olympics for real. Check out what they had to say below.
Lenora Critchlow (pictured above right with director Regan Hall) plays the lead role of Shania Andrews
Talk me through the kind of training you did to prepare for the role
We had such a small window of time to get ready so we did lots of interval training, lots of weights to help with the definition and lots of all round body conditioning. We also boxed to get the aggression. We’re all such lovey actresses, we were all supportive of each other, we were like ‘no you’re doing it well!’ ‘No, you are!’ The athletes were all saying ‘where’s your competitive spirit?!’ Jeanette (Jeanette Kwakye, Team GB athlete who was one of the team who trained the actresses) used to scream at me ‘get aggressive with it!’ and as soon as you do, it completely changes everything. You’ve got another 15 – 20 minutes in you or you just get that much more focused.
Then of course there was all the really technical stuff of sprinting correctly, the arm movements and all these things about your body that you’d never notice or highlight. Sprinting is very precise and there isn’t an ounce of muscle or movement that’s a waste of energy, so it was about running the most effectively and convincingly.
Noel Clarke (above left) co-wrote the movie and stars as the team coach, Tommy.
Four female leads is kind of a rarity, but four female athletes is quite the statement. Why did you feel this was the right time to make this?
Damien Jones was always saying to me ‘we should do this thing Fast Girls, I’ve had this idea for years,’ and I was always like ‘I don’t wanna do that man.’ He kept asking me for years and once the Olympics hype started building I said yeah, we should do it. I think it’s very important, ’cause it could’ve just been ‘Fast Guys’ or just ‘Fast’ and just had men but it was important that it was girls because I feel that girls aren’t put in the spotlight enough. Especially for female athletes, regardless of how many people watch the female 100m, it’s always about the men, the men, the men – so it was really important to get the women out there.
Also, in our industry, as actresses, it’s rare that you’re the lead. You’re always supporting the man or getting rescued by the man and for me it was really important to have something really aspirational, really inspirational where women and actresses could be like ‘ahh yes! It’s about us! I’m not being saved again!’
Lily James (above right) stars as Lisa Temple.
Obviously the training was really intense. Did you find it impacted on any other areas of your life?
Oh yeah, everything! For that six weeks, I was a recluse. Your food was so strict – six meals a day, every two and a half hours, protein shakes – so you couldn’t go meet a friend for coffee or go have lunch or go out for drinks, all of that went. And you’re tired and you’ve been pushing weights with Jeanette screaming at you, pushing through further than you ever thought you could go – you just wanna go home and sleep!
For the six weeks before filming it was great because I got mentally into the right mind frame of an athlete as well. It really showed me that if you don’t keep a sense of reality and you don’t have friends around you, which my character Lisa doesn’t, it is too much.
Has playing this role affected your own views on women in sport?
Yes definitely. Complete respect for female athletes. They are incredible, incredible human beings and they’re so strong and fierce and determined. I’m just in awe of how they live their lives and what they do. I think they’re great, positive role models for girls and young women.
If you were going to compete in the Olympics for real, what would your event be?
Lily: I’d like to do gymnastics.
Noel: Some of the combat stuff, like Judo. Or maybe some athletics, I’m a pretty fast runner.
It was at this point I challenged Noel and he said he could beat anyone in the crew I run with, Run Dem Crew – them’s fightin’ words!
Fast Girls is released this Friday, June 15th.