Australia’s up-and-coming action girl Sharni Vinson talks ”Blue Crush 2”, learning to surf and the raw beauty of the South African coastline with Moviehole’s Ashleigh.
So, surfing: Did you do a lot of it yourself?
Yeah. We learnt… We all learned how to surf in the movie.
How long did it take?
Wow. You must have picked that up really quickly.
I got up on the fourth attempt which I felt was pretty good. But funnily enough I got up on the left foot forward.
I water ski with my right foot forward, so that’s why I just thought I would be a right foot forward surfer. They said don’t think about it, just do it naturally and my left foot was forward naturally. Then I got to South Africa and my surfing double was a goofy foot or a right foot, so I had to switch.
Learn how to switch here.
How long have you water skied for?
I water skied since I was about four.
How did you find South Africa?
It was like… Kind of like an experience like no other really. It kind of like the most perfect time for me because it took me out of Hollywood. I’ve been there for two and half years, it’s such a stressful kind of high paced environment there. To go to somewhere like South Africa, it’s the complete opposite. It’s like coming back in time back to Australia. And the people are just amazing and the country is absolutely stunning.
Oh, I know, as I was watching it I’m going, “Oh my God. I just want to live here.”
Exactly. And I think the movie really depicts the beautiful elements of South Africa including the animals and the people. And it was such an amazing spirit country. You had poverty, you have people living in huts and really struggling to just get by and have a roof over the head but these kids, I’ve never seen smiles so wide and so happy as this kids. So it’s like a really refreshing, grounding experience coming out of Hollywood to sort of be thrown into that… I had like South Africa depression for three weeks when I went back to Hollywood, we all did, we didn’t want to leave, this was just so beautiful.
It’s kind of funny because I had never heard a lot about the surfing culture in South Africa and then to see it…
Because Jumper’s Base is like main break in the surfing world. And I don’t know…
Yeah, well, the thing is, it’s funny, like the movie almost was going to be called Blue Crush Wild Coast.
Because it is a sequel but it’s nine years on, it’s new cast, new everything, country, it’s almost… It is but it’s not but it’s the same message. So all of us wanted to call it Blue Crush Wild Coast because the South African wild coast is just incredible, the coastline.
It’s so beautiful there. And the surf spots, all up and down that coastline.
Yeah, the first one was shot in Hawaii and it’s very picturesque and like a postcard but like this is so much more… Raw?
It’s raw and it’s pretty.
Right. It makes me miss the beach.
The first movie because of the pipeline-esqe and Hawaii thing it was more Americanized. And this movie is just all about… It’s just diverse, it’s multicultural, and you’re just seeing so much more elements within it too.
So what was your favourite part of making it?
Like the entire experience really because I was only there for… I was there for four weeks, one week of surf training, three weeks of shooting. The other two girls and pretty much everybody else within the film they’re there for three months. So I only got a taste…
Why were they there longer?
Because they’re in the movie like throughout from start to finish. And the original script of Blue Crush 2 did not have my character in it; that character was actually written for me to be a part of the movie which is very flattering.
Oh, that’s really fun.
Yeah. So it was really nice. And then I flew in late, they had already been there for a month and then I shot out what I had to shoot. And then they stayed another month when I went back to LA, for the premiere of Step Up 3D. So they kind of worked me into this schedule.
Wow, it’s awesome that you get to do that.
It’s very flattering, yeah.
What was the most challenging part of it?
Probably the conditions, the elements, the weather, the surf, how cold it was. The fact that it was winter and we’re in bikinis. And at six o’clock in the morning you’re going out there and it’s hard because… Even if it’s really cold and you’re in bikini and we kind of paddle out, if you’re constantly moving you can be okay, you get through. But when you’re wet and you’re just sitting on top of the surfboard and the wind chill factor is hitting your chest and your body just literally like… We were at that point like mild hypothermia we were brought in a couple occasions and it’s really difficult to contend with those elements and make the scene look like the way it’s supposed to.
Like it’s summer and you’re warm, and getting a tan, but really you want to be in a blanket?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Kind of. We just were aching for that hot shower at the end of it. So I think the hardest part, really the only hard part of this film because it really was a breeze and a piece of cake for me because I just got to sit on the beach, be in a bikini get up every now and then say some snarky remarks, it’s fun. It’s just really fun and simple but the parts that were hard really were the fact the we were supposed to be warm and it was freezing.
But you can’t tell so that’s always good. I would have never guessed actually that it was the middle of winter.
That’s again, with something filming like Home and Away as well, they shoot all the beach scenes in winter. The reason is through the camera, it’s very crisp, everything is usually clear like in winter it’s just a crisp of air and it’s just really visually stunning through a camera
How is Mike Elliott as a director? This is his second film isn’t it?
Honestly, he’s just… I just was saying to somebody just now. His sense of humour, him as a person he’s such a character, he is the best to work with. I’ve been so blessed with working with really amazing directors but Mike takes the cake because he’s so funny, and he’s so laid back and he’s so willing to hear your input and really include you in the making of the film. He is respectful, you respect him and he’s just yet so laid back and easy going on set. There’s no stress and the director’s personality is really what is going to determine how a shoot runs completely. And with someone like Mike on set, it just made it like one huge vacation. Like he’s hilarious. Like we’ll be turning out the set and the three of us will walk on the set in bikinis and we’ve just done like a work out and he’s looking at us, he’s like, “You’re quite fit girls!” [laughter] And then we’re like… Yeah, yeah, he’ll be looking like at me like, “Huh!” and he’ll just drop on the ground and just start doing sit-ups.
All of a sudden he will look at me like, “Move! Move!”
And what’s next for you?
I’m off to China to shoot some additional scenes for a film I’ve been doing called Bait 3D; it’s an Australian film that’s released in September. Then I’ll come back and spend my birthday here in Melbourne with my family – for like the first time in five years!
So you’ve been based in L.A for about 5 years?
Three-and-a-half. I went to L.A as soon as I finished my contract on Home & Away. [Moving to L.A] is something I had to do; it’s where all the work is. After about twelve months in L.A I landed Step Up 3D.
Did Mike Elliott see you in ”Step Up”? Is that how you scored the ”Blue Crush 2” gig?
No, I’d auditioned for one of the other parts in the movie. I didn’t end up accepting that part. But later on, much later on – when Mike was in South Africa – he, because he apparently liked what he saw, wrote a character specifically for me. So within a couple of days I was on a plane to South Africa.
“Blue Crush 2” is now on DVD and Blu-ray