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Riding High on Life's Waves: AnnaSophia Robb, 'Soul Surfer'

How did you prepare for this role?
I read Bethany’s book [2004’s “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board“] and I just got to know her. Bethany’s been so great because no question was off-limits. She really welcomed me into her life. I went out a couple weeks before we started filming and hung out with her in Kauai, where she lives. Then, during pre-production, she came out and stayed with me for a week.

How much training did you do for the surfing scenes?
I trained for six weeks before filming and almost every day when we were shooting. During pre-production, I would surf every morning, and then I’d work out later in the day in the gym. I changed my diet so I could gain muscle.

Were you afraid of a shark attack while filming?
Sharks have been my No. 1 fear ever since I was little. But Bethany really helped me. We were surfing one day and I was looking in the water, looking out for sharks, and she said, “Don’t look down.” She has a greater fear of not surfing than of sharks.

Who is this film for?
If my dream had been seemingly stolen away from me the way Bethany’s was, I would have been a wreck. But she has no regrets about it. I think teens will enjoy it, but it’s made for everyone who has gone through difficult times.

“Soul Surfer”
The film tells the real-life story of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), a promising young surfer who loses her arm in a shark attack. Hamilton’s parents (Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid) offer support as she attempts to regain a normal lifestyle and readjust to the world of competitive surfing. In her film debut, Carrie Underwood plays Hamilton’s church youth group leader and confidant.

Photos by Mario Perez/FilmDistrict/TriStar
Video courtesy SoulSurfer4811