[The Wavelength Drive-In Cinema is back for 2021, bringing you a range of surf cinema, cult classics and family favourites from the clifftops of Cornwall, including two screenings of Blue Crush on the 18th of July and the 7th of August. Browse the full lineup and get your ticket here. Or, subscribe to Wavelength now to get free entry to a screening of your choice.]
It’s nearly 20 years since the Best Film Ever Made (according to this writer, ahem), aka Blue Crush, blasted into our consciousness, capturing an entire generation of teenage girl’s imaginations. Fronted by the infamous, girl-power heavy trio of Kate Boswoth (in her break-out role), Michelle Rodriguez and real-life pro-surfer Sanoe Lake, Blue Crush presented a strong take on women’s surfing – sorely lacking in popular culture at the time, which conflated surfer girls with participants in Reef’s bikini butt competitions.
Bosworth’s depiction of a beach dwelling surfer intent on breaking out as pro and surfing the Pipeline comp, helped by her on-screen buddies and roomies Rodriguez and Lake, continues to top best surf movie lists in popular culture. As we prepare to screen Blue Crush at this summer’s Drive-In Cinema we’ve rustled up 10 wild facts you may not have known about Blue Crush…
1. Blue Crush was based on an article, “Life’s Swell”, featured in Outside Magazine by Susan Orlean in 1998 about a real-life group of young teenage surfer girls in Hana, a small town in Maui, Hawaii. Blue Crush was screenwriter Lizzi Weiss’ first film and in an interview with Screenwriters Utopia in 2002, she details how, after writing a couple of drafts, the director sent her to Hawaii, “to soak up as much authenticity and texture to that world as possible.”
“I met with the real girls from the article,” she says, “interviewed housekeepers at all the luxury hotels, got all the great stories. I got all my best stuff from that trip.”
2. Kate Bosworth was just 18 and had only recently finished High School when she auditioned for the role of Anne-Marie Chadwick in Blue Crush. After reading for the part a few times, the producers told her they liked her, but said they really needed someone who could surf. So, Bosworth hired herself a coach and after three weeks of scratching on the inside at Malibu, invited the producers down to watch her shred. She apparently spent the whole hour eating it in the sand, but her determination changed their minds, and they were convinced to take her on.
3. In an early interview, Bosworth explained how the producers told her, “I don’t know if you can play a surfer believably. You’re going to have to put on some muscle.” I was like, “Okay, anything you want!” Boswowth was committed to the part, “weight training and learning to surf seven hours a day, seven days a week, for four months. I gained 15 pounds of muscle, which is a lot for me. It was a completely different body shape…like putting on a costume to get into character”. All the footage of Anne Marie being sucked over the falls and taking heavy wipeouts actually is Bosworth, and Keala Kennelly, who played herself in the film, recounted how Bosworth was actually paddling out into the lineup at Pipe herself. “Kate got hammered,” according to Director Stockwell.
4. In one of the film’s opening scenes, eagle-eye viewers may remember Anne Marie (Bosworth) getting ready to paddle out at Pipe and feeling nervous, spotting a surfer running up the beach with a nasty bleeding gash above his eye. This was a totally candid, real moment captured on film, and it happened to be no other than Tom Carroll according to to Cory Hamblin’s 2009 book Serket’s Movies: Commentary and Trivia on 444 Movies, which stated “This was a real injury; Carroll had wiped out on the reef just seconds earlier.”
5. Sanoe Lake was the only genuine surfer of the 3 stars, and did herself go on to sign a contract with Billabong, which Bosworth’s character Anne Marie was gunning for in the film.
6. Michelle Rodriguez, a self-confessed gear-head (known most famously for her role in the Fast and Furious franchise), admitted to the L.A Times when the film came out “I don’t know about surfing, man…Just give me something with an engine and I’m cool.” Her stunt double Megan Abubo, another one-time runner up to the world title, was responsible for Rodriguez’s surfing, though Rodriguez did actually do her own ski stunts, towing Bosworth’s double Rochelle Ballard.
7. Kate Bosworth was so committed to surfing in the film, she actually lost consciousness after being struck on the head by film love interest Matthew Davis’s surfboard. She was taken to hospital, but her noggin was fine with no serious damage. “It was the number one movie I became most method, just became a surf girl” she told Build Series in a recent interview.
8. Look a little closer and as well as Keala Kennelly notably featuring and the stunt doubles tearing it up, fellow pros Carol Ann Philips, Layne Benchley, Brian Keaulana, Tom Carroll, Jamie O’Brien, Bruce Irons and Makua Rothman all appear in the film.
9. Though Bosworth did learn to surf somewhat, it isn’t her you see dropping in at Pipe in full-send mode. Her stunt double, pro-surfer Rochelle Ballard (a runner up to 2004’s World Title) stepped in, with Bosworth’s face actually digitally superimposed onto Ballard’s body. On the biggest waves you see in the movie it’s actually diminutive (5ft5) pro surfer Noah Johnson in a wig and bikini taking on Pipe. Johnson told Surfline years ago how he and fellow stunt double Kate Skarett surfed 8-foot Pipe alone for an hour during filming; “it was insane, like a dream…(Kate) ate it on a pretty big one”.
10. Fans of Blue Crush have been hankering for a sequel with the original stars for years, and in a recent Zoom reunion with fellow actors Lake and Rodriguez, Bosworth teased fans, asking “everybody wants to know, would we be up for a sequel?”, before Lake, 41, jumped in with “yes, obviously. 100 percent.” “For me,” Bosworth recounted during the catch-up, “Blue Crush is the one that everyone, and especially young girls, come up to me and say, ‘You inspired me to do this! You guys are all my heroes!’ It’s so incredible.”