In it’s opening weekend Bethany Hamilton’s biopic, Soul Surfer, grossed $10.6million at the box offices. That’s good enough for fourth nationwide, despite being in less theaters than each of the three movies ahead of it (and most below it, too). Needless to say, there’s a ton of buzz right now about Bethany and Soul Surfer, so we decided to give you the top 5 online stories all in one place. But first, here’s a quick Q-n-A with did with Bethany a little bit ago when the movie had finished filming. For more on Bethany Hamilton’s Soul Surfer head to ripcurl.com/index.php?soulsurfer.
TransWorld SURF: How did the project go from idea to completion?
Bethany Hamilton: Well, it’s been an idea and a possibility for a long time. It went through the hands of several filmmaking companies, and we saw many scripts. It really took a lot of persistence by my agent, Roy “Dutch” Hofstetter, who was the one who really continually pursued the movie.
What was it like seeing someone act as you?
It didn’t really seem like she was acting like me. But Anna Sophia Robb, the girl who starred as me, did a great job.
Do you think this film will have the same impact Blue Crush did?
I think that it will have a more positive impact and a better massage, one to lift people up.
We’ve seen you do tow‐ins and big-wave surfing, and been in total awe. How do you do it with just one arm?
I’m just starting to tow in, and I’m hooked on it! I’m still figuring out the best way. But it does get really tiring having only one hand to hold on to the rope with. We got this special vest that has a place where I can hook the rope on it, that’s been very helpful. Tow surfing is extremely demanding physically, so a lot of off‐water training is necessary. As far as surfing in general, I’m used to one arm now.
You’ve just missed out qualifying for the WCT the last couple years, what are your goals this year?
Yes, the close calls for qualifying have been frustrating, but I really have had more time to fine tune my surfing and have improved, which is really rewarding for me. I intend to qualify this year, but I really just want to enjoy the year with the movie and all, not too many expectations. Plus, my love for tow surfing is growing and I would love to spend more time doing that.
“To lose your everyday life of surfing and being creative on waves, enjoying the ocean — that’s scary to me,” she says. “It was essential to at least try surfing again and get out there and see how it went.”
Tom Hamilton, Bethany’s father, said, “In my heart of hearts I wanted as many Christians as we could get to play parts in the movie. They just have a different spirit about them. … Craig T. Nelson, who is a really strong Christian and goes to our church in Kauai, I called him and begged him to be in the movie. A lot of the producers didn’t want to go too overboard because they thought Christianity doesn’t always sell well.”
In the film, a despondent Hamilton turns to her youth group leader, Sarah Hill (played by country music star Carrie Underwood) at the seaside church pavilion and asks that most difficult of questions: Why would God let this happen? “I don’t know,” Hill answers. This is usually where people, in films and in real life, try to give a well-intentioned answer that nonetheless always falls short of providing any real solace.
When asked if Bethany relives the shark attack she says, “I’m past it, and I feel really blessed that I was able to heal well after that experience. I’m enjoying life now as a pro surfer and going on surf trips all around the world. I have a pretty exciting life. It was a terrible thing that happened to me, but so many good things have come out of it that it has turned into a beautiful thing.”
“Soul Surfer offers a ghastlier sight than your wildest 127 Hours–meets-Jaws nightmare: barefaced Christian pandering that pretends it isn’t.” — Aaron Hillis, Village Voice.