Soul Surfer stars AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) in the role of Bethany Hamilton, an irrepressible spirit who lost her right arm to a shark while surfing but who managed to turn something so devastating into a positive: Within months, she was circling the globe to help tsunami victims in Thailand, and within a year, she stunned the competitive surfing world, returning to the sport with championship-caliber skill. “Surfing with one arm is challenging, but I just have to use my brain a lot more and position myself in the best possible spot for catching the wave,” Hamilton explains. “It has helped me really focus on technique.”
But Hamilton’s story is more than just a biography of a woman overcoming her own personal tragedy. “A big part of the film is that there is so much more to life than what your body is,” Hamilton says, seemingly taking her accomplishments in stride. “What matters the most is who you are inside and how you treat others. It’s really important to accept yourself as you are. I have one arm and a lot of people think, ‘oh, no,’ but I accept myself for who I am. To me, real beauty in life is being kind to other people and that’s what the filmmakers and AnnaSophia really understood.”
“I thought it was such an uplifting story,” says Robb. “It was so unbelievable that I kept wondering: Did this really all happen? Is it really true? I met with [writer and director] Sean McNamara … and he said, ‘Yes, it all really happened.’ Then he told me that Bethany had wanted me to do the role, and I was so honored.”
Hamilton gave Robb surfing lessons and commented on her prowess. “Surfing takes years and years to learn, and she only had about a month or so, so she did really well,” Hamilton says of Robb.
At first the waves terrified Robb, but she says she reminded herself, “If Bethany could face her fears after the shark attack, I can face this.”
“Soul Surfer” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.