Welcome to the island of Themyscira, home of some of the world’s most fit female athletes.
One of summer’s most-anticipated blockbusters, “Wonder Woman” hit theaters this weekend, and in order to cast for the godlike race of warrior women, the D.C. Comics filmmakers sought some of the world’s best female athletes to play the Amazonian women. In the film, the Amazonian women are masters at not only equestrian, but also fighting with swords, spears and are essentially an army that would completely destroy any unwelcome visitors.
So how do you cast the Amazonian women to show where Wonder Woman gets all of her power from? Well, reach out to some of the world’s best female athletes, of course.
Some of the female athletes in the film include former Team GB pentathlete and long-jumper Jenny Pacey, Nigerian heptathlete Moe Sasegbon, Swedish kickboxer Madeleine Vall Beijner, pro boxer Ann Wolfe, martial artists Mayling Ng and Samantha Jo and CrossFit champ Brooke Ence.
After they were cast, the group spent six months in London training with weapons and honing their physique before filming. The group also spent several hours each day practicing swordplay, horseback riding and stunt choreography.
“I had to bulk up, packing on muscle and reducing body fat,” Pacey told the New York Post. “It took me 12 months [after shooting] to reduce the bulk on my shoulders.”
When the group was finally brought together, Beijner, who plays Egeria in the film, said it was truly special.
“When we were put together, this awesome power emerged,” Beijner told Entertainment Weekly. “We were these Amazons we were there to play — just by being us. Strong, powerful, badass warriors. For real. And I believe the audience can feel that authenticity through the screen.”
So how did their athletic experiences help them?
“I know what real pain, like getting injured in battle, feels like,” Beijner said. “I may not know what it feels like being cut by a sword or shot by a German rifle, but I don’t have to pretend that I know what if feels like to have someone snap my collarbone, crack my ribs, or bust my nose.”
But Beijner also said that presented a few problems on set.
“I’ve been training for 12 years not to show anything, even how hard I get hit,” Beijner told EW. “They called me RoboCop because when we were training, they were like, ‘You’re supposed to show that it hurts!’ And I was like, ‘No, I don’t get hurt! I’m a fighter!’ ”
Ence, who plays Penthesiliea in the film, told EW that she was surprised by how easy it was to tap into her inner warrior.
“The first day we were on-set with all of our swords and shields, it felt like a different type of power,” she says. “And we looked awesome.”
[More from Excelle Sports: The real-life Wonder Woman: Jessie Graff makes history on American Ninja Warrior]
In addition to the Amazonians, Gal Gadot’s—who plays Wonder Woman—stunt double, Caitlin Dechelle, is a fighter herself. Dechelle has black belts in three disciplines: Chinese Kenpo, Japanese Goju-Ryu and taekwondo and is also an instructor in addition to some of her roles on the screen.
“I was trained to be like the boys, if not better,” Dechelle told ESPNW. “People say that men can do it better, but that’s not true. This film portrays that.
“Having such strong women attached [to] this [film], I just think it’s going to be fantastic.”