Olivia Alexander and Jena Sims play Brittany Andrews and Cassie Stratford in Roger Corman's homage to classic sexploitation films, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, debuting on Epix on August 25th. The stars happened to be at San Diego Comic-Con and spared us some insights about the film and the future of 3D movies.
Jason Sacks For Comics Bulletin: So, this is a good-girl vs. bad-girl fight, you two just happen to grow to 50 feet tall?
Olivia Alexander: We both do grow, eventually.
Jena Sims: Some more than others.
Alexander: Cassie, Jena’s character, is an ugly duckling; I mean, it’s quite ridiculous.
Sims: I think you could say that; I have pimples on my face.
Alexander: They de-glammed her and her mother who is played by Sean Young.
Sims: She really pressures me into cheerleading and being in a sorority, things I'm not necessarily wanting to do, and I created this serum that I gave myself, with this idea that nothing could go wrong. I become beautiful, but as a side effect I continue to grow and grow and grow throughout the hours.
Alexander: She's the antagonist; I am the captain of the cheer squad and the president of Zeta Mu sorority. And not only is there a new beautiful, smart girl in town, but now she’s a cheerleader too. Brittany, she is not happy about it. The main power struggle with my character is that she’s small, like I am in real life. So when she hears that Cassie over here is growing, crazy things begin to happen. If Brittany has one goal in life, it’s to be big!
Sims: It teaches a lot about empowerment, confidence, and self esteem.
Alexander: It’s a lot of relatable undertones. Self esteem, power, and insecurity, and then obviously “sexploitation” is a word that people discuss when they talk about Roger’s films, and B-movies. There’s obviously some nudity in the film, and I think we both felt really empowered by training and cheerleading.
Sims: There's dancing and science experiments and monsters. There’s like everything you would want in a b-movie, all your favorite parts from your favorite b-movies are all jammed together in one giant movie, and that’s Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader.
CB: Did you like to antagonize each other on and off the set to try and get that feeling on film?
Sims: No, we’re BFF’s now.
Alexander: Yeah, I always tell people, like I’m the only person on the entire planet who can be mean to this girl. If not, they’re going to have Brittany Andrews to deal with. And trust me, you don’t want to mess with her. I actually injured Jena during a fight scene, and I felt horrible. But you know, she's a professional, and the show went on. We’re actually really good friends.
Sims: We actually really do lay in bed together and watch Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
Alexander: It starts to really happen.
Sims: Yeah, Roger’s been really great to us; he took us to an Oscar party and we’ve been having meals and dinners over here. He’s been taking really really good care of us. It’s been a blessing to be able to work with him. It’s totally changed my life.
CB: What kind of stunts have you had to do in the movie?
Alexander: The fighting, obviously. Cheerleader stunts.
Sims: I was a cheerleader through high school, a competitive cheerleader, so I can tumble and do stunts. We can both dance, so actually I did a back handspring and back flips. Part of the fight scene was like kung-fu cheerleading, so there’s elements of cheerleading and kung-fu in there. So we did all of our fighting. We had five minute fights choreographed to every slap.
Alexander: I think it’s twelve minutes, actually.
Sims: Are you serious?
Alexander: It’s really epic.
Sims: It felt like twelve minutes.
Alexander: I went out there thinking that I was a badass. I went home feeling completely like we were trained by a real Ninja Turtle and two Power Rangers. We walked in there all confident in our work out gear, and we were like “We work out! We’re buff!” and they were like “Hah!”
Sims: We were in bed all the next day.
Alexander: We were stiff as a board, but it was awesome.
CB: How is filming 3D? Is it that much work, was that much of what you guys were doing? Did it take longer?
Sims: It had everything to do with it. Since it was filmed in 3D, I think the most important thing that I’ve learned about that is focus. Like when you have those true 3D moments where it’s like where something is jumping out at you, it’s all about changing the focus on the moves, someone in the front, someone in the background, etc. Once you set that shot up, you cannot move. If you mess up where you’re standing, it changes the focus and you have to start all over. It takes twice the amount of time.
Alexander: There’s also an element of performance too, because the film is in 3D. There are definitely some scenes that my expression and choices I’ve made as an actress that were definitely affected in 3D, and everyone is walking around with glasses on set, and checking them out.
There are two lenses actually in the camera because it’s not converted in post, it’s in true 3D. I know we worked really hard with Kevin O’Neill to get those 3D moments because 3D has become a gimmick, and I think this is why it’s great for Roger’s first 3D film. It actually compliments the story, and I think it really adds something to it.
We didn’t want there to be too many of those moments, but we also wanted them to be important to the story, and to the comedy of it.
Sims: Yeah, you want to feel like you’re watching a 3D movie, not like- I watched Titanic in 3D once it was done in post, and I was like “come on.” You could tell. Which our film, I haven’t seen it yet, but I imagine it’s going to look like a multi-million dollar film.
Alexander: And for Epix! Which is a television show so we’re more on a computer screen. And to bring a 3D experience to a smaller screen and into people’s homes, I think it’s really interesting, because there are people that just do not go to the movies. I think it’s a really interesting combination of the future and the past with the B-movie legacy and Corman, and with Epix streaming in 3D, and then you’ve got legends like John Lennox and Treat Williams mixed in with people like us who are just auditioning actresses, major noobs.
Sims: Future legends.
Alexander: (Laughing) Hopefully! It’s that perfect juxtaposition that I think is really going to come across in the film and hopefully make it something special.
CB: How many times have you seen the original Attack of
the 50 Foot Woman?
Sims: This is crazy, I go to bed watching it during the nights that we were filming it.
Alexander: Well, and then there’s Attack of the 50 Foot Centerfold. There’s so many of them. Then I mean I just started watching so many B-movies in general, and then Sexploitation films like Faster Kill Pussycat Kill Kill, things that really inspire I think, the films that helped the genre. So yeah, you could say we're a bit obsessed
CB: What are your favorites of those? You mentioned Attack of the 50 Foot Woman…
Sims: I love that one. I think my favorite Roger Corman movie is Fire on the Amazon, because I love Sandra Bullock. I mean, I would love to have the career that she has.
Alexander: I’m so torn. Obviously Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and Sharktopus; I like the creature movies.
Sims: It’s one of our guilty pleasures.
CB: Do you like to pretend you’re stomping around big cities now?
Sims: It’s always a joke now. Like whenever we say something, it’s almost like “that’s what she said” now. Oh, there’s a giant joke in there somewhere!
Alexander: Yeah, this weekend’s been really big for us.
Sims: Har har har.
Alexander: I mean, I’ve always wanted to be Godzilla, so this was pretty much like a dream come true for me.
Sims: And I’m a fan of The Hulk. It’s exactly like that. We grow, but our tops don’t.