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About The Production (Continued)

The intense rivalry leading up to the national championships is between the Toros champion cheer squad and first-time competitors the Clovers, led by captain Isis. Gabrielle Union, who most recently appeared in the feature films Ten Things I Hate About You and She's All That, was chosen for the role of Isis.

"Gabrielle is an amazing actress, and she brought a very grounded quality, an elegance and class to this character," notes Reed. "Gabrielle and I collaborated on what we both did and did not want this character to be, and she was invaluable in bringing Isis to life."

"To me the characters of the team captains, Torrance and Isis, are very similar. They both have to shoulder the burden of being strong leaders and deal with several sticky situations along the way," continues Reed. "I felt strongly that this story should focus on two determined and talented athletes, rather than on the issue of race. I thought of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at the peak of their competition. One was white, one was black, but that wasn't what it was about — it was about two amazing athletes who put on their game face and said, 'Hey, bring it on!"'

Both Dunst and Union had a bit of cheerleading experience prior to joining the cast of Bring It On, as both had been cheerleaders in eighth grade.

"I did it because I wanted to be popular — I wanted to be with the cool crowd because I was always gone working," laughs Dunst. "We never did hardcore cheering like this film portrays — we had the easiest, two-word cheers, like 'Go team' and 'We got spirit!' — not too taxing."

Union echoes Dunst's experience, noting "The last time I was a cheerleader was in eighth grade, where talent was not a requirement — it was all about being popular!"

Of her character, Union says, "Isis is extremely dedicated to her squad and to her community, a bit of a control freak, very ambitious and very goal oriented. When she sees that this other squad plans to use her group's routines, she gets fed up, and organizes her squad. She pulls it all together so they can attend and compete for the first time at nationals against the Toros."

Union, who switched from cheerleading to basketball in school, says, "This is the first movie of its kind to really showcase cheerleading as a sport, rather than portraying a bunch of ditsy girls prancing around.. .this story shows how much athleticism and dedication go into the sport."

Although many think of cheerleading as a female endeavor, the squads in Bring It On are coed, as are many high school and college championship squads across the country.

"As we traveled around doing research, we discovered that coed cheerleading squads in college are the norm — and many high schools are beginning to lean that way as well," notes Reed. "And in some of the squads we encountered, some of the guys played football in the fall, and were part of the cheerleading squad during the off-season. That was a real surprise."

The men of the coed championship Toros include Nathan West as the libidinous Jan, who really enjoys the view as he hoists his female teammates aloft, and Huntley Ritter as Les, who, well, does not.

Before joining the cast of Bring It On, Ritter had been fairly unaware of the whole cult of cheerleading.

"I'd played sports in high school, and the cheerleaders were always female," says Rifler, who was a series regular on the television series Redemption High and who also appeared on the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful. "Then, reading the script in my a

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