Working on “The North Shore.”
I surfed pipeline for the first time in 1976; I guess I was in junior in high school. I’d been surfing Palos Verdes for 5 years and I thought I was pretty hot. Oahu’s north shore was and still is the “Mecca” proving grounds for any surf stoked kid. I think I was in love with Hawaii before I even got off the plane. From surfer magazine posters on my wall, to the way I’d imitate on my skateboard the big wave pro surfers of the time, the Hawaiian waves and surfers and lifestyle ad captured my imagination in my most impressionable years.
Relative to the hard-core locals, I was just another kook from California trying to make a dream come true … but in my heart I felt a respect and love for the Hawaiian experience that still lives in me to this day.
Ten years later I was a professional actor living in Hollywood and spending all my time in the city. A director I’d worked with before was producing a surf movie and he called me in for an audition. After reading the script, I knew I wanted to play the part of Turtle more than any other character I’d read for. I had to audition seven times and do a surf test.
Basically I had to convince the film makers that I could play a surfer but I knew I related to the character in ways I wasn’t even aware of yet. The film was cast with the greatest surfers on the planet; Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton and Mark Occhilupo are still performing at the very top of the surfing world. Needless to say, these guys were legends then.
I was in awe of the talent around me. I rented a house at pipeline and moved in with Brian King, a local Hawaiian who was the inspiration for the part of Turtle. We went over every line in the script, sometimes between shots, in an effort to bring as much aloha into the character as possible. I am forever grateful to Brian King for sharing the character of Turtle with me.
One of the highlights of filming “The North Shore,” was surfing perfect 4 to 8 foot pipeline with Gerry Lopez and Laird Hamilton. These guys were and still are my complete heroes. They dominate any spot they surf, but I needed Hawaiian water patrol “Blockers” to help get me into waves without anyone on them. Don King, the best water camera man of all time was shooting in the lineup. There were two cameras on the beach and with the help of the Hui water patrol, I could go on any wave I wanted for about one hour out at pipe. This truly was a dream come true.