By Molly Given
We’ve all seen “Fight Club,” (guess I’m breaking the first rule), and know the story of how an underground group of men came together to spice up their mundane lives in the form of physical force. Now, fighting has had some cathartic attributes connected to it when done consensually, but still, when thinking of those grappled groups, a female version might not be what most people would think. Yet, in Paul Leyden’s latest feature, “Chick Fight,” the therapeutic attributes of physicality to work through self esteem and life’s obstacles gets in the ring with other categorical fight films, and this one knocks it out of the park.
“Chick Fight” stars Malin Akerman, Bella Thorne and Alec Baldwin, and tells the story of a therapist who helps her patients duke it out in the ring to help work through personal problems. Through hilarious moments, energetic fight scenes and combative character dynamics, the film hits home with it’s message—which is mainly surrounded around female empowerment and coming together through the sweat, blood and tears.
Malin Akerman sat down with Metro to discuss what went into making “Chick Fight.”
What was it about this particular project that made you want to sign on?
There are a few elements to it, my dear friend Paul Leyden, who directed this film, I have known him for fifteen years and he is such a supporter of powerful women and when he writes he writes for women. So I knew when he came to me with this project—which was quite a few years ago actually, we’ve been going back and forth trying to get it put together—they brought me the script and I just thought that this is a great opportunity. Not only is it a fun outright comedy, but it’s sort of the underdog story and a comedic version of Rocky where you have this girl that’s down at the bottom and is trying to get on top. I just the loved the sisterhood aspect of it and women sticking together and holding each other up, and I think that needs to be portrayed more in films instead of women being catty with each other. We need to come together, and I just love the idea that historically we’ve been told that certain things aren’t lady-like and we shouldn’t do this or that and this film goes, ‘Well, we need an outlet as much as anyone else.’
What is it about a female fight club that helps bring women together?
All of the characters are clients or patients of a therapist who opened this underground fight club because she realized women didn’t need to just talk it out, they should physicalize things. I myself am a boxer, it’s a great form of exercise for me and it’s almost cathartic and meditative, I feel so great afterwards. Some of the characters even say, I just needed to face my fears and when I got in that ring, it just made me feel powerful in the outside world and that I could take anything that came at me. There’s some truth to that, as women we are vulnerable out in the world and walking down the street in the middle of the night, you feel a bit more fearful on your own than you would in a group. I think that having any kind of power that you can build throughout your life will have you walking out there with confidence and I think that we should all be allowed to express rage and get our emotions out and then shake hands. This is all consensual in this fight club, that’s what’s so wonderful about it. It’s almost like you just need to get all the feelings out so then you can then refocus your energy and tackle what’s at hand. So, I think whatever the outlet is it’s just saying it’s okay to have it to do what you can to move forward in life.
For your character specifically, what do you like about her and how would you describe her?
I think she’s a girl who is trying in life like most of us, but a lot is just piling up and everything is sort of falling apart for her and she’s feeling really down on her luck. I think she’s relatable in many ways and sometimes when you hit rock bottom there is no other way than up, and this is her climb up. I can definitely relate to that, life ebbs and flows and we have our highs and lows and in the movie, we find her at one of her lowest points.
How was it shooting the fight scenes? What did you do to prepare?
The fight scenes were so much fun. We had an amazing stunt coordinator and her stunt girls who were exceptional, but you know it’s a small budget film, so we don’t have the budget to get trainers in to train us months in advance. We kind of were left to our own devices to keep up the work and I definitely continued my boxing classes. But once we got on location, we had a couple days before we started shooting and we rehearsed a few times a few hours a day to go through the choreography for the main fight between me and Bella [Thorne] and some of the montage fights we got in the ring with our coordinator were actually on the fly. It was an 18 day shoot, so it was intense but it was also a lot of fun. I love any physicality, those are the days I didn’t have to learn any lines, I can just go in and get all of my energy out.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film after getting to watch it?
I hope people feel energized and inspired and say I got this, I can do this thing called life and there’s always hope. For women who walk out of it, make sure you got your clan of women, we need to hold each other up especially during this time—we need people we can lean on.
“Chick Fight” will be available in theaters, digitally and on-demand Nov. 13.
This story first appeared on our sister publication philly.metro.us.