Chasing Mavericks is about to hit UK theaters, so if you’re there and you want some cool big-wave relief for those hot summer days, chase this.
And here, direct from Hollywood, is all the info you could ever want about the film:
CHASING MAVERICKS is the inspirational true story of surfing phenom Jay Moriarity (newcomer Jonny Weston). When 15 year old Jay discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is near his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to train him to survive it. As Jay and Frosty embark on their quest to do the impossible, they form a unique friendship that transforms their lives, and their quest to tame Mavericks becomes about more than surfing. CHASING MAVERICKS was made with the help of some of the biggest names in the surfing world, and features some of the most mind-blowing wave footage ever captured on film.
Fox 2000 Pictures and Walden Media present a Gran Via / Deuce Three production, starring Gerard Butler in CHASING MAVERICKS. The film also stars Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, and Abigail Spencer. The music supervisor is Andrea Von Foerster, the score is by Chad Fischer, and the costume designer is Sophie De Rakoff. Scott E. Anderson is the visual effects supervisor; John Gilbert, A.C.E. is the editor; and Ida Random is the production designer. Bill Pope, ASC is the director of photography; and the executive producers are Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Georgia Kacandes, and David Weil. The film is produced by Curtis Hanson, Mark Johnson, Brandon Hooper and Jim Meenaghan. The screenplay was written by Kario Salem, from a story by Jim Meenaghan & Brandon Hooper. The film was directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted.
There is a saying that if you hail from the Northern California town of Santa Cruz, you are born with a surfboard in one hand and a skateboard in the other. But that isn’t the only adage the seaside community abides by. The residents are also fiercely true to the motto “Live Like Jay,” a saying – and a lifestyle – dedicated to the memory of a local surfer named Jay Moriarity. Jay was a rising star in the world of big wave surfing when his life ended much too soon. And while he gained international notoriety for his fearless wave riding, it was his personal spirit – driven by kindness, an infectious enthusiasm, and an absolute fervor for life – that was truly unforgettable.
Jay’s neighbor was Frosty Hesson, a surfer who became a friend, mentor, father figure – and so much more – to Jay. Michael Apted (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”), who shared directing duties with Curtis Hanson (“8 Mile”), explains: “The initial relationship between Frosty and Jay is mentor and pupil. As the story develops, their bond becomes more complicated, more emotional, and more in the territory of father and son. By the end of the story, the child is father to the man. So the movement of the film is a bit of a role reversal as to who is the mentor.”
Gerard Butler and newcomer Jonny Weston bring Frosty and Jay to life on the big screen. Butler, who following his triumphant success as a peerless warrior in “300,” has become one of today’s most versatile and in-demand actors, is, says Apted, “a movie star and the rock on which we built CHASING MAVERICKS. He dramatized the internal struggles that Frosty must navigate in the course of the film. A lot of the cast were young and were able to learn from Gerard’s experience.”
Jonny Weston was among those benefiting from Butler’s experience and talent – especially given the fact that CHASING MAVERICKS is the young star’s major motion picture debut. Apted elaborates: “Jonny brings a freshness and curiosity to the role. He could have been intimidated by the challenges, but he had the ability to listen and learn. Once Jonny saw the way through a problem, he doggedly stuck with it.”
“Jonny is Jay,” adds producer Brandon Hooper. “There was just this purity in his eyes and in his spirit.”
Butler notes that one of the film’s key themes is: connections. “In many ways, the film is about connecting with nature, to spirituality, and connecting with another person. The connection that grows between Frosty and Jay is the most compelling aspect of the story. But there are several more relationships that shape both Jay and Frosty, including, notes director Curtis Hanson, “Jay’s relationship with his girlfriend and future wife Kim; Jay’s relationship with his mother; and Frosty’s relationship with his wife and his little child.”
“There are interesting relationships in this story, which help dramatize the emotion of the piece,” says Apted. “I’m drawn in by that emotion and look for unusual relationships to help express it. But I also thought that big wave surfing was a spectacular and unusual world in which to set the story. I felt we were in original territory.”
The connection between Weston and Butler mirrored the one they were depicting. “From the second Jonny screen tested, everybody fell in love with him. We really had a kind of Jay-Frosty / mentor-friend relationship; it was very much life imitating art.”
Brandon Hooper and producer Jim Meenaghan – who together wrote the story – went directly to Frosty Hesson and Jay’s widow, Kim Moriarity, for permission to bring Jay and Frosty’s journey to the big screen. Other filmmakers had previously approached them, but Hooper and Meenaghan’s enthusiasm and ideas made Kim and Frosty comfortable with the idea of a film inspired by Jay’s life. Hooper notes, “Kim and Frosty have been supportive throughout the entire project, and we were grateful they entrusted us to tell the story. We wanted to do justice to them and, especially, to Jay.”
When director Curtis Hanson came on board the project, he joined Hooper and Meenaghan in Santa Cruz for scouting expeditions and research. “I met Frosty and Kim, and had long talks with them,” Hanson says. “We told them our film would resonate because everyone will identify with the struggles of these characters, and knowing that they’re based on real people will strengthen that identification and the emotional connections.”
Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston, like the producers and directors, immersed themselves in the world of Jay and Frosty. Weston shares, “I came to Santa Cruz and basically got adopted by Frosty and Kim and by some of Jay’s closest friends. They took me in and they told me everything they know about Jay.”
CHASING MAVERICKS was filmed on locations where much of Jay’s life unfolded, including Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Mavericks itself, as well as residential streets where the real-life characters’ actual homes had been situated. “It’s beautiful that we were able to film where everything really happened,” says Butler. “It’s great for the story because it gives it an additional layer of verisimilitude.”
LIVE LIKE JAY
In addition to Frosty and Kim, many others who crossed paths with Jay participated in the film, including legendary surfboard shaper Bob Pearson, photographer Bob Barbour – and one thousand Santa Cruz locals who served as extras in a scene that reenacts Jay’s legendary triumph at Mavericks. The Santa Cruz community was thrilled to celebrate and share the legacy of “Live Like Jay.”
Hooper explains, “Ten years after Jay’s passing, there’s so much love still out there for him. These people did not turn out for the scene because this was a big Hollywood movie; they turned out for Jay.” Gerard Butler adds, “I’ve never heard people talk about anybody so positively as they did about Jay Moriarty. He touched people’s lives, had a kind word for everybody, and he affected an entire community. They all just wanted to be a part of that and were so proud that this story is being told.”
Weston adds, “Everybody recognized Jay’s purity and his selflessness. And whatever it was that made people love seeing Jay, whatever that energy he was putting out, people couldn’t really describe it. Everybody just knew what it meant.”
The filmmakers did not have to look far to find an impressive list of big wave surfers who wanted to participate in the making of CHASING MAVERICKS. In doing so, they paid tribute to an impressive legacy: When Jay had what was considered the biggest surfing wipeout to date and shortly thereafter rode the perfect wave, it changed the world of big wave surfing forever.
ABOUT THE CAST
GERARD BUTLER (Frosty Hesson, Executive Producer) solidified his leading-man status when he starred as the bold and heroic King Leonidas in Zack Snyder’s action blockbuster “300.” The film broke box-office records in its opening weekend and went on to earn more than $450 million worldwide.
After “300” Butler went on to star in “The Bounty Hunter,” opposite Jennifer Aniston; “The Ugly Truth,” opposite Katherine Heigl; “RocknRolla,” with Jeremy Piven; “P.S. I Love You,” with Hilary Swank; “Nim’s Island,” with Jodie Foster; as well as “Gamer,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Dear Frankie,” and the award-winning drama “Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown,” also starring Judi Dench.
More recently Butler has been seen in Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, “Coriolanus;” Gabriele Muccino’s “Playing the Field,” alongside Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones; as well as in Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher.” Additionally, Butler gave voice to, Chief Sotick, the leader of the Vikings, in the Oscar®-nominated animated film, “How to Train Your Dragon,” and will reprise his role in the forthcoming sequel.
In association with his longtime manager Alan Siegel, Butler launched a production shingle in 2008. He also starred in their debut project, “Law Abiding Citizen,” which grossed more than $100 million worldwide.
Born in Scotland, Butler made his stage debut at age 12 in the musical “Oliver,” at Glasgow’s famous Kings Theatre. As a young man, his dreams of acting were temporarily deferred when he studied law for seven years before returning to the stage in London. In 1996, Butler landed the lead role in the acclaimed stage production of “Trainspotting.” He later starred on the London stage in such plays as “Snatch” and the Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer,” opposite Rachel Weisz. Butler is a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ), established in 2009 by Paul Haggis to encourage peace and social justice. It also raises funds to address issues of poverty in communities around the world, with a current focus on Haiti.