The science-fiction motocross adventure movie A.X.L. is in theatres August 24. Alex Neustaedter plays the main character, Miles, who is an experienced motocross rider; Neustaedter, though, is not.
Neustaedter, who grew up playing baseball, basketball, and football, spent hours working out to prepare for the role; in order to look the part, he had to build up the strength and conditioning required by actual motocross racers. He also consulted with some of the biggest names in the sport: Tyler Bereman and Axell Hodges.
“Bereman and Hodges are two of the biggest stunt riders in the film, and they are some of the best big whips and big air guys in the world,” Neustaedter said. “I learned little basic things from them about how to sit, keep my knees in, have one finger on the clutch and the front brake, and simple things like down-shifting.”
Because of insurance policy restrictions in the industry, Neustaedter was not allowed to ride or try any of the stunts on set. “Once I was done with the movie and on my own, I hit plenty of jumps. I was just in Central America riding in the backwoods, trail riding there.”
Not just riding, flying: Neustaedter said that on a bike he rented, he got up to 90 miles per hour.
He also spent a lot of time watching motocross on YouTube and in person. “I learned perspective. Moto is really a family sport,” said Neustaedter. “The entire family has to be involved, and that’s the case for my character in the movie. He and his dad are just scraping by to supply parts for his bike and to continue to race in these motos.”
That’s a theme Neustaedter knew firsthand. His family has been behind him every step of the way as he worked to become and actor and follow his dreams. “They’re always a little nervous when I ride bikes,” laughed Neustaedter. “But they know I take care of myself.”
The story of a boy named Miles, who first relates better to machines than people, and an intelligent robot dog, A.X.L., is one part teenage drama and two parts science-fiction adventure. Neustaedter promises legitimate stunts and a demonstration of real motocross in the film. “You’ll see Miles interacting with A.X.L. and how good of a rider he is, the tricks he does, and the evasion maneuvers,” he said. “A.X.L. forms a ramp for Miles, and he hits it. It’s sick.”
Photograph by Tony Rivetti Jr.