Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis would wake up in the morning, do yoga and then strength-train together for two hours before going roller skating until nightfall. It was a bruise-inducing journey of female camaraderie, a two-month-long, check-your-ego-at-the-door boot camp for Barrymore's directorial debut, "Whip It." And as Lewis told MTV News as part of our weeklong fall movie preview, it was a chance for these actresses to become their own versions of superwomen.
"We all felt like action heroes!" the actress/singer said.
The film follows Page as a small-town Texas teen fed up with the beauty-pageant circuit who finds her way into an all-female league of roller-derby divas. Wiig and Barrymore play her tough-talking teammates, while Lewis portrays Iron Maven, the bullying rival team captain who becomes Page's nemesis.
And although they're adversaries in front of the camera, they're best of friends everywhere else. "It was tough to be an out-and-out bully, to shove Ellen Page into a locker," said Lewis. "I'm very nurturing and embracing of the underdog. But it was pretty f---ing fun!"
After shooting wrapped each day, they'd all compare their "big old nasty bruises," as Lewis put it. Page even shows off her war wounds as the movie's credits role. The actresses were just following the example of the real-life derby girls who played additional teammates in the film.
Female roller-derby culture, Lewis explained, is "a bit of wrestler culture, rock-and-roll culture, band culture and sports, because they're all incredible athletes."
Lewis has worked with first-time directors before — Dominic Sena in 1993's "Kalifornia," Scott Kalvert in 1995's "The Basketball Diaries" — but she singled out Barrymore for her extensive preparation before and during "Whip It," which comes out on October 9.
"She was so visually prepared," Lewis said. "You can talk about scenes and emotion and acting crap all day, but at the end of the day, you have to shoot the shot. She knew what she wanted cinematically."
Lewis had stayed away from Hollywood for four years as she recorded music and toured with her band. Now she's got a new album, Terra Incognita, ready to drop in September, and then her roller-derby flick to promote.
"I feel like a rapper now," she joked. "Except I don't have a shoe [line]. But don't worry, I'm going to release a tennis shoe!"