Heavy Water Presented By Chasing Mavericks: Gerard Butler Interview
Catching Up With The Star Of Chasing Mavericks—An Upcoming Film Based On The True Story Of Jay Moriarty
Gerard Butler, the Scottish-born actor most famous for his leading role in the movie 300, recently took on the task of playing Frosty Hesson (the legendary big-wave surfer from Northern California), in Hollywood’s forthcoming film titled Chasing Mavericks. In the process, he garnered a newfound respect for the surfing lifestyle. Oh, and he almost died.—Zander Morton
TransWorld SURF: How long have you been surfing?
Gerard Butler: I surfed when I was 17-years old for about 15 minutes with my cousins who lived in San Clemente. I was just this kid from Scotland, and I felt so humiliated that I didn’t go back in the water for another 18 years. But when this movie came along, I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to get into surfing and tell an incredible tale about the surfing world, a surfer’s psyche, and at the same time train with some of the best f—king surfers in the world.
What kind of training did you do to prepare for this role?
To get my stamina up, I did long-distances paddleboarding and then basically just surfing—learning how to be on a board, do turns, get up on a wave… really just learning how to look like I knew what I was doing. It was a lot in a short time, and I did say to myself, “What the f—k have I got myself into?” But I operate best like that. If I know my back is up against the wall, then that’s what kicks me into action. Fear is a huge motivator for me. I went up to Santa Cruz and surfed with Frosty, the character I’m playing. I was just getting in the water and learning to deal with different types of conditions and different types of waves. One of the big things I wanted to do was to learn to tow-in. I was secretly hoping I could tow at Mavericks, which is what I ended up doing. We had a couple days where I got towed into a few waves and I was thinking, “Holy shit, I’m surfing Mavericks, I can’t believe it!” It was maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
That’s quite a quick ascent, from a beginner straight to towing Mavericks.
Oh yeah, and I learned surfing is a thing that consumes people’s lives. When I got into it, I understood why. These guys are the furthest thing away from “dudes” or “f—kheads,” they are so smart and down-to-earth. Maybe my favorite thing about the movie was the surfers I met and spent time with. Surfing is not a well-paid sport, and surfers give up a lot. I’m really glad that I had a chance to get involved. When I saw those surf scenes I thought, “Maybe people that aren’t close to the surfing world will understand and not think that I’m a little softy getting taken down by these waves and getting taken to the hospital.” When they see the waves in this movie, they’ll go, “Now I can understand why something like that would happen.”