Isabelle Fuhrman revealed her physical, mental and emotional journey to playing a college rower in The Novice in her new uInterview.

The actress plays the main character Alex, whose interest in her college’s rowing team turns into an all-out obsession when she decides she must make it onto the varsity team.

“Alex is a young woman who’s, you know, a freshman in college, you know, has a list of things she wants to do while she’s in school, and is a very ambitious, a little bit OCD,” Fuhrman told uInterview Founder Erik Meers. “[She’s a] really smart young woman who becomes seduced by the sport of rowing and falls in love with the sport to an almost obsessive degree and has a toxic relationship with it.”

The movie is based on director Lauren Hadaway‘s own experience on her college rowing team. Fuhrman said she received “so much” insight from Hadaway during production.

“When she sent me the script she also sent her image book and in that was a statement that she had written about her own experience in college. And how she wanted to really capture this sport and this obsession that she herself kind of went through. And how she wanted the film to feel, which is very different than anything I — you know when you receive a you know script and a look book usually they want to show you how it’s going to look — she really wanted to capture a feeling.”

The 24-year-old actress revealed how she related to her director through Alex: “I myself have my own, you know, drive and ambition and grit as a young woman myself, and I really deeply related and felt seen by this character. And then meeting Lauren, we both realized that we had that same kind of like creature within in us that would like stop at nothing, and had such passion and literally break your own back over trying to make something really special. ”

“She was just there every step of the way with me,” Fuhrman said of Hadaway. “Kind of I trusted her and she trusted me and we held each other’s hand and we made this baby together really.”

Fuhrman said she rowed the entire movie, without a double, and practiced for six hours every day to prepare for the role. She also spent time researching and learning from Hadaway and other rowers about the unique competitiveness of women’s rowing.

“Because you have to have equal funding for men and women’s sports women’s rowing became like this kind of trough of scholarships,” she said, “and if you could get into the varsity boat you got a full ride.”

“This sport is like completely ruthless and relentless,” she said. “I mean your hands are bleeding on a daily basis you’re touching these oars that other people have touched, they’re getting infected, the minute you get a blister and it calluses over it like rips off and you’ve got like your hands bleeding again. And I got to experience that.”

“It’s a mental game,” Fuhrman said. “You’re staring at the ponytail of the woman in front of you for hours on end, your legs are literally turning into bricks, and you’re getting jacked. I mean when I made this movie I gained 12 pounds of muscle preparing for this role, and my body was completely different than it had ever been.”

“It really gave me so much respect for female athletes,” she said.

The Novice is in theaters and On Demand on December 17. Check out the trailer below.

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