Longtime actress Helen Hunt takes on a new role in her latest film, ‘Ride’, co-starring Luke Wilson and Brenton Thwaites. Hunt has been in the movie biz for years, and has now gone above and beyond as the writer, director, and lead actress in this new movie that incorporates her relatively new found love for surfing.
‘Ride’ chronicles a non-stop magazine editor and obsessive mother from NYC, named Jackie (Hunt), who decides to track down her son in California when she finds out that he dropped out of college to become a surfer. The film does a hilarious job of displaying a New Yorker’s perspective of the California lifestyle, and highlighting the challenges that come with being a beginner surfer.
As the story unfolds, viewers get a glimpse of surf breaks up and down the coastline of Los Angeles, and a reminder of the joy that comes with the sport.
The Surf Channel caught up with writer, director, and star Helen Hunt to hear her thoughts on the new film ‘Ride’, and to learn more about her love for surfing:
What are you hoping most people will take away from ‘Ride’?
Helen Hunt: I mean, I hope they have fun. I hope they laugh. I think that’s the biggest thing. I hope they feel inspired to play, whatever that means to them, ya know? I tried to write somebody who’s very good at a lot of things and very bad at enjoying herself and kind of learns the hard way to do that. So I hope it inspires people to try something new, and to not let their kids be the only ones having fun.
How many similarities would you say you have to Jackie’s character in the film?
HH: You know when you make something people want to know if it’s autobiographical, and it is, but the difference is you’re kind of everybody. So, I kind of feel like her, but I also feel like him. I can definitely relate to her getting a good night’s sleep when she’s sleeping at the front of her kids door. I don’t quite do that, but I would. But nothing makes you feel more comfortable than knowing your kid’s okay. So, I definitely relate to that. They’re all me. You know, that’s what happens when you write a movie is you’re everybody.
What kind of response have you gotten from the surf community thus far? You did a lot of filming at local breaks here in LA. What was that experience like?
HH: Yeah, we shot everywhere from Little Dume all the way down to Huntington. People have been really cool. You know we snuck in and out at some places, so they would notice me out there and they noticed our camera men paddling around, but they were… Actually we had a lot of trouble from people on land, but everyone in the water was fantastic.
What would you say made ‘Ride’ so special compared to other films that you’ve worked on?
HH: Well, I mean I’ve directed two movies, I’ve wrote them both. I co-wrote the other one and I wrote this one. So the writing thing makes it closer to your heart, you know what I mean? It’s really something that you gave birth to so that makes it special. And it’s also about things I care about. It’s about this idea of loving the world any way, loving the world even if the world often is a really hard thing, and that’s kind of how I’m trying to live.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience learning how to surf, and how that actually came about?
HH: I always wanted to surf and then it’s one of those things when you live here, [when you see] a surfer, you stare at them out there and they seem very exotic. So, I finally took a pair of lessons and was terribly nervous. They went horribly, [I was] yelled at by these kids for an hour and a half and could barely get myself out of the water. And I thought: Never again, I will never ever, ever, ever do this again. And then, another friend of mine who is a surf teacher said, “Wait a minute, I could give you a surf lesson that’s more fun than that!” I was still pretty scared, and it felt like someone was standing on my head on my second lesson, but I started to enjoy it and I started to realize I could find my own way in the water. I could look where I see a spot that looks okay to me. I could go out for twenty minutes and could do more than I could do. So over time, I was just, love it, love it, love it, love it. But I’m still pretty terrified of it, it’d take a mellow day to get me out there.
With such a busy career life, how did you find time to dedicate to learning to surf?
HH: Well I don’t think I’m that dedicated, like I’m not out there every day, but for years I kept going out, you know what I mean? My boyfriend is out there almost every day. That is not me! I look for an excuse to not get out there. But I have not given up, so that’s the main thing.
What kind of advice would you give to someone who’s learning to surf?
HH: Just be into humility. Pretend you’re a clown in the circus and it’s gonna be silly, and cover your head when you fall.
What beaches in California have you found are your favorite to surf at?
HH: You know, just in my neighborhood, up and down depending where the tide is. I also love boogie boarding, I’ve rediscovered boogie boarding. It’s like all the fun without the 10 feet of fiberglass ready to smack ya in the head. So, I kinda look for the fun.
Surfing must have made a huge impact on your life, just like so many other surfers. It obviously led you to write, direct, and star in a new film that has surfing as the major theme, can you describe that impact that surfing has made in your life?
HH: Well, it’s just a family-fun thing to do. It’s something my boyfriend and I have been able to do together, and not sure this movie came out of it. I think it’s just put me right in the arms of mother nature more than anything. If you can call it a sport, but really, it’s a way to get very, very close to something that’s much, much bigger than you and that’s…that’s the best thing about it.
What would you say to a mom or a fellow working professional today if they told you that it’s too late for them to learn how to surf?
HH: Well I mean, they could look at me. That would good. I learned much later in life, but I think that’s sort of the theme in the movie. Just try it, ya know what I mean? Just try something new. You feel young when you try something new.
Can you tell us about your involvement with the Surfrider Foundation, and how surfing has made you more aware of ocean pollution?
HH: Well I mean, I’ve been very involved with Surfrider. I’ve also been very involved with Heal the Bay for a long time. This is my backyard, my father has been swimming in this bay for like 75 years or something at 80 years, and my daughter swims in there, and now I. It’s been a huge part of my life, so we are all waking up to how much we have to protect all the natural resources around us. For me, it’s really personal. We have a fun thing going, that if you buy tickets by going to my social media outlet, Surfrider gets a piece of that. So anytime you can do even a tiny something to help, and if it’s something you care about, you feel better. So, it’s kind of selfish on my part.