NPR logo Alex "Axles of Evil" Cohen, Public Radio's Roller Derby Star

Alex "Axles of Evil" Cohen, Public Radio's Roller Derby Star

If you listened to today's interview with Juliette Lewis, who stars in Whip It, you may have heard Neal ask her about Alex Cohen.

That name is probably familiar to NPR devotees in the audience. For the uninitiated, Alex rose through the ranks here at NPR from intern to co-host of the great, but late Day to Day, which aired on many public radio stations. Nowadays she is at KPCC, in Pasadena, Calif., where she is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered.

In her spare time, she skates with the Tough Cookies in the L.A. Derby Dolls roller derby league. (You can hear Alex, also known as "Axles of Evil," talking about roller derbies, here.) When Drew Barrymore decided to make a movie about the sport, she sought out Alex.

So, how did they do?

They all learned remarkably well. Kristen Wiig, on one of the first days, said she remembered doing a certain move as a kid, and pulled out this maneuver called "shoot the duck," where you're basically in a low crouch and one leg is jutting forward. It was amazing, because there are girls who have been skating for years who can't do that. Zoe Bell, who's a stuntwoman, is ridiculously fit and talented. I remember her asking the training team how to do a 360 degree jump and we said no, because we physically couldn't do it at our level [of skill]. But she fiddled around with it and figured it out on her own, and you can see her doing it in the movie.