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Sandra Oh and Anne Heche Do Brutal Battle in Their New Dark Comedy ‘Catfight’

Where to Stream

Catfight

In their new film Catfight, Sandra Oh and Anne Heche play a pair of old college frenemies, Veronica and Ashley, who meet again at very different points on their life curves. Veronica is successful, with a husband and a kid and some money; Ashley is a struggling artist and is a cater waitress at the party Veronica is attending. Neither one of them is particularly happy in their lives, though, and after enough alcohol and a chance meeting in a strairwell, a fight breaks out. Not an argument; not a war of words. And nothing quite so genteel as a “girl fight,” either. Punches are thrown. Blood is drawn. Bones break. This is a FIGHT.

And so begins director Onur Tukel’s Catfight, a movie that goes to some incredibly interesting places with a concept that could have easily turned silly or exploitative. Neither the story nor the fighting is done from there, but for the rest of it, you’ll have to see it for yourself as it opens in select cities and on all digital platforms TODAY. A big part of the film’s success is that it’s drawing upon Heche and Oh, two actresses of considerable ability who are nonetheless frustratingly underutilized by Hollywood. Back in September, Catfight screened as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, where Decider was able to sit down both actresses and talk about fight choreography, trusting each other, and being “soul naked” on screen.


“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect,” Heche said about beginning the project. “Period. Like, fuck it; you meet Onur, you don’t know what to expect. And then we show up and everybody knows that Sandra and I are gonna do a scene, but you have absolutely zero understanding of how that’s gonna go. Our first scene where we talk was the first scene that we shot, and then the fight happens.”

Heche also talked about how the depth of the characters’ anger was something that took both actresses by surprise. “No one understood how emotional [it was going to be]. We were coming to do a comedy. Yes, we’d understood that Onur had wanted to say this, but we didn’t know how that was going to be expressed. We were in tears. I mean, I remember Onur saying one time, like, he was sitting outside with the monitors, and we were in the stairwell, and he yells, ‘This is supposed to be a comedy! I’m weeping!'”

Oh talked about filming those fight scenes themselves, and how it contributed to the general vibe of the film. “The fight scenes could have been all our stunt doubles,” she said. “But because it wasn’t, because Anne and I are the actors and the people that we are, then you get what you get. I will say the moment where I thought — which was actually [the moment that appears on] the poster — where I thought, ‘Oh, this could work. This could work.’ That fucking chokehold! That chokehold was the moment when we were just going for it.”

Heche jumped in to agree: “Like, ‘Oh my God. We are gonna push this as far as it needs to go in order for this movie to work.'”

The three fight scenes are the structural pillars of the movie, with much of what takes place around them taking on a deadpan, almost absurdist comedic bent. One character’s fortunes rise while the other’s falls, both to delightfully absurd degrees. But the movie would fall apart if the fight scenes weren’t as emotionally complex and disarmingly brutal as they are.

“It was exhausting and thrilling, and really, really challenging,” Oh said of the fight scenes in total. “It was challenging for us not only physically, [but] it was extremely challenging emotionally.”

“We were soul naked,” Heche agreed. “They were obviously, intentionally, incredibly brutal.”

“The fights that you see,” Oh said, “the first is blood and the second is war, because they have weapons, and the third one is earth. We approached them differently. ‘No, we don’t really need blood here […] we want mud, we want dirt, we want leaves, we want twigs. That’s what we want.’ So, in a very gentle way, we were all kind of using those tools to tell that story.”

After watching the film, all you want to do is to ask these two fierce, funny, phenomenal women from where they summon the energy and the rage and the pathos to film these fight scenes. When we finally just asked that very question flat-out, Heche and Oh gave the same unequivocal answer: “From the depth of your soul.”

Where to stream Catfight

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