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You know the mighty mighty Toros like you know your own high school fight song — They’re sexy! They’re cute! They’re popular to boot! — and maybe even better, considering how often the original movie still airs on basic cable 15 years after its release.

But once upon a time, Bring It On was just a low-budget teen comedy with an uninspired working title (Cheer Fever), a largely unproven cast (Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union), and a whole lot of jokes about spanky pants. EW recently reunited the film’s stars — including Dushku, Bradford, Union and Kirsten Dunst, the only cast member, Union recalls wryly, who didn’t expect to be “back in the unemployment line” after shooting wrapped — to reminisce about the pom poms, the off-set parties, and the time they may or may not have gotten arrested in Mexico.

KIRSTEN DUNST (Torrance Shipman) [I was shooting] in Prague, and I remember not turning it down, exactly, but not being super sure about it. I was like, ‘A cheerleading movie?’ It sounded like it could have been just a cheesy teen movie, but what sealed the deal for me was talking to the director, Peyton Reed, on the phone — he was just so smart. I agreed to do it mostly because of Peyton.

ELIZA DUSHKU (Missy Pantone) I was a tomboy growing up and kind of an anti-cheerleader in real life. But I begrudgingly showed up for the audition, probably a little hungover. There were girls doing flips in the lobby, and I kind of cringed and dodged them and went in, and I guess Peyton just found that hilarious. He asked me if I could do a split, so I got onto the ground into a split, and that was it.

GABRIELLE UNION (Isis) I actually didn’t have to audition. I had done a lot of teen-oriented films — 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That, Love & ­Basketball — and I had a recurring role on 7th Heaven… A lot of those leader-type popular-girl roles, so I think I was on their radar.

JESSE BRADFORD (Cliff Pantone) I was 20 or 21. You see the words Cheer Fever [the original title], and as a dude I was kinda going, “I don’t know, is this for me?” But then I met Peyton, and it was so clear to me that he was a smart guy and that he had a vision.

Read the full interview in our gallery, in the Entertainment Weekly scans

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