The Inertia Founder
John Philbin AKA Turtle from North Shore

John Philbin (AKA Turtle) talks North Shore 2. That’s right. A sequel!

The Inertia

Of all the people you could watch Pipe Masters with, Turtle, aka John Philbin, from the cult classic surf film North Shore, tops the list. So when I realized I was sitting beside Mr. Philbin, we struck up conversation, which inevitably meandered to discussions of North Shore (as I imagine it often does) and the prospect of a sequel: North Shore 2. And this one, as Mr. Philbin explained, might star surfing’s golden child, John John Florence. So here’s a little beachside conversation (at PIPELINE!) with Turtle. Enjoy.

So tell me a little bit about North Shore Two. It’s happening, huh?

We want John John Florence in it. We’ll get Laird and the girls playing cameos, but we want John John to be the lead guy.

What about the plot?

Rick’s not in it right now. Turtle’s a shaper. He’s got his own shack. He makes real boards, you know? One of his sons is an incredibly successful surfer, who will be played by John John Florence who’s riding Chinese boards, and they’re giving him a ton of money.

I’m an old school shaper like Chandler. I just became exactly what I wanted to be. But we have another son, who I want to be played by Jamie O’Brien, who’s more of a backyard charger and he rides his dad’s boards. And at some point, I try to get John John, who’s winning the Triple Crown that comes down to Pipe to start riding local boards. The Chinese get wind of it and they burn down my shack and my factory and means of production. At that point, John John comes around and decides to get back to his roots and surf hometown boards out at Pipe. He’s the only guy who could win all three events of the Triple Crown and that would be the climax of the film at Pipe.

It would only take place during the Triple Crown. We would definitely involve the ASP and the guys who are taking over the ASP. It’s just interesting sports content. It’s a sports drama. Our sport has gotten so interesting. They’ve found so many interesting ways of filming it. It’s a formula piece. It’s really a sports prodigal son drama.

What’s the likelihood of it really happening?

We’re pretty excited about it. We’re just running these ideas by people in the position to make it happen.

And what about Rick?

Rick is going to come back. He’s not the lead character like he was 25 years ago. He went to New York. He’s been in New York, not surfing. He’s an artist.  Laird’s Laird. And Keoni, I’m not sure what her deal is.

Does John John Florence know he's the lead in North Shore 2? Well...he does now.

Does John John Florence know he’s the lead in North Shore 2? Well…he does now.

Do you think John John could act in a leading role?

I think he could. He’s awesome.

Well, there’s a difference between being an actor and being a great guy. Things change when there’s a camera on you.

I know. I did a movie where I played myself, and it’s difficult reading lines someone writes for you. I wasn’t myself. So yes, there’s a lot of work that would have to be done. I just think he would be amazing. You know, we had Occy, Shaun Tomson, Gerry Lopez, Robbie Page in the original and that’s what gave it a lot of interest. The local color. All the local Hawaiians and the surf community. Gerry Lopez is a great actor.

Acting isn’t something that everyone can do, but I’d love for John John and Jamie O’Brien to be in it surfng pipe. Getting in arguments. It’d be awesome. Laird standup paddling by saying, “Yeah, I quit.” It’d have to be comedy right? Comedy with a little sports drama.

How often do people “Turtle” you?

Oh…Everyday. I teach surfing in Malibu. I live in Los Angeles so it happens everyday. In some way.

Does it get you psyched? How do you feel about it?

It doesn’t do anything. It depends. Ten to twelve years ago, I quit acting and I was reinventing myself and teaching surfing is manual labor. It’s in the service industry. And I missed acting. And I asked myself where that was coming from. I did a couple of made-for-TV movies with Kai Borg and I was staying with Terry O’Quinn from Lost and I asked him if it bugs him when people call you John Locke or a compliment? He said if you’re ever lucky enough to be in some movies and someone knows your character’s name, you should not take offense to that. That does not make sense. And I think he’s right. So I’m stoked. Ever since then I’ll be like, “Alright. It’s a good thing no matter what.” I love everything I’ve had to do with that movie. I think maybe when I stopped acting, I thought to myself, “I’m not that guy. I’m not him anymore.” And then I had a bunch of actors tell me to be proud of that. So I’m proud of it. You get older and things get a little more mellow. If someone means something bad by it, then it’s not my business.

Mick or Kelly for the 2013 World Title?

I think that Mick’s going to win, but if Kelly were to win a 12th world title…man. Mick’s such a great surfer, and I love him. He’s a great guy. But Kelly. He’s Kelly Slater, and I’m an old man, you know? Kelly changed the sport forever, and I love him, and if he did win a 12th world title, it’s astronomical odds against him for a sporting event accomplishment we may ever see in our lifetime, so, yeah, I’d love to see that happen.


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