When is it not fun doing stunts, surfing, doing what you do, and then seeing it on the big screen? I’ve done a bunch of stuff in films and whatnot, and this one was a lot of fun because we got to just surf. I’ve been doing a bunch of stunt work for ten or fifteen years, and this wasn’t getting run over by a big football player, or some stunt that leaves you feeling sick.
The first time I surfed Jaws I was really young and did some surfing for The Big Bounce, some stuff for Blue Crush, and a lot of others. I was 4 years old doing some acting on the North Shore. I don’t remember every single movie or every single stunt, but I’ve done anything from bodies falling from the sky to riding a street bike and having a car blow up next to me. Basically, everything that hurts. This time I got to surf and have a good time.
For this film I had a little injury when they filmed the scenes at Teahupo’o. So I handed that opportunity over to my nephew, my little protégé, Billy Kemper. I called him up and asked him if he wanted to go work and he was stoked to go do that. If I can’t do something, I always hand it off to my boys. But I didn’t miss the day of shooting at Jaws. It was awesome. It was easily the biggest day Jaws had seen in ten years, so to tow in there when it was pretty much too big to paddle was fun. But it wasn’t just me. I got to pick up Laird that day. I called him knowing he wanted to surf because he hadn’t been to Jaws in a while. I said “Uncle let’s go surf.”
“I don’t know, they’re out filming,” he said.
“So what if they’re filming? Let’s just go. What, are they going to tell you not to surf Jaws?”
So we towed each other into some fun waves that day. And then we got to paddle into some more waves there the next day, which was pretty interesting – paddling around with a 4 millimeter wetsuit at Jaws. But like I said, it was all really fun because in the end, it was just another day of surfing, another day at work.
The film crew had specific shots they wanted from us, like asking some guys to paddle in and just go straight. We told them, “Hey, let’s send one of your guys out, and we’ll push them over that cliff and watch him go straight on a 50-foot wave.” We just figured we’d do what we do and if it happens it happens. We told them when we get those wipeout shots you have to be ready to film because it’s not like you ever want to intentionally paddle yourself over the falls at Jaws. That’s a wave you want to try and spend as much time above water as possible. So in the end we really just surfed and let them get the shots. They’d ask for two guys on this wave or they’d ask for specific looks so we definitely did our best for the movie, wanting to help the director and the crew tell their story. There’s a technical side to surfing for the camera, putting yourself where you know you need to be, helping them get their perfect shot and remembering the number one thing is just to always know where the camera is.
I love doing this. And if the opportunity presented itself, I’d love to do some more big surfing stuff for Hollywood. There’s a new iMAX film I’m a part of where I’ll be surfing the hydrofoils with Laird. And hey maybe one day, you never know, I could be the next Tom Cruise. I’m young, I have a lot of life ahead of me and I’m blessed with a lot of opportunities. I always figure, “Why not?” If something fun and exciting comes to you in life you should go for it, because that opportunity might not come around again. To me, that’s the difference between just living life and actually being alive.