If you don’t think the idea of a big comic book movie with Sandra Oh and Anne Heche beating up supervillains is a great movie idea, then you haven’t seen “Catfight.” The two acclaimed actresses go at it three separate times in the indie comedy. They coldcock each other in the face. They do body slams. They bust out sleeper moves. By the end the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Hung” alumnae have transformed into bloody, exhausted, feral messes.
“I want us to be superheroes,” Heche says, laughing. “I want someone to come after us and put us in a hot, big budget movie, where we’re pounding on other people, and not ourselves.”
In “Catfight,” Oh plays Veronica, a SoHo trophy wife who runs into Heche’s Ashley, a struggling abstract painter. Neither are very happy with their lives, and what starts out as a mild tiff explodes into a knock-down, drag-out fight. It was a first for both Oh and Heche.
“The most important thing in the world to me was being nervous that I would accidentally punch Sandra Oh out,” Heche recalls. “Fortunately I didn’t. We got hurt, we got beat up, we put everything into our fights. But neither one of us hurt the other.”
There was another uphill battle to fight, though.
“This is a very tiny film,” Oh tells us. “We had no rehearsal and no budget. It’s not the kind of thing where you say, ‘Oooh, Matt Damon trained for six months to be Jason Bourne, that’s awesome!’ We did not have that.”
“We had our morning coffee and then started punching each other,” Heche adds.
The film’s very title conjures up less enlightened times — an era of grindhouse exploitation cheapies in which women beat the crap out of each other for the enjoyment of a male audience. The smackdowns in “Catfight” don’t feel like they’re only there for dudes.
“There’s a lot of energy here that you don’t get to see women express so physically in films,” Oh says. “Even the title ‘Catfight’ is both demeaning and gives you demeaning sexual connotations. I don’t think a woman came up with that term to describe fighting women.
“But it’s also one of the reasons I liked this script,” she adds. “I thought it had a point of view and a tone.”