We recently had the chance to sit down, and get the low down, on the movie SOUL SURFER with one of the stars, Ross Thomas. Ross is a ridiculously talented actor who plays Bethany’s older brother in the movie, and he somehow still has time to play the drums in a band, surf, and save the world. No, we’re not kidding, he’s legit. Read on, and you’ll see why he’s a amazingly talented, passionate, and inspiring person. This is one of the most interesting interviews we’ve done in a while. Go check out the movie and support Bethany and Ross! And as always, you’re welcome.
DAILYSTOKE: You play Bethany’s older brother Noah, how did you get selected for the role?
ROSS THOMAS: I had already had a working relationship with Sean McNamara (Director of “Soul Surfer”). We did a film called “The Cutting Edge: Going For The Gold” and a surfing TV series called “Beyond The Break” (also shot in Hawaii) together. Sean and I great friends and take every opportunity we have to work together because we have so much fun and are such a collaborative team. Not to mention we both have a deep passion for surfing. He is a really talented filmmaker and loves the process; his enthusiasm makes for a really great set to be on. Back when we were shooting “Beyond The Break”, both Sean and his partner David Brookwell mentioned that they were
trying to make Bethany Hamilton’s story into a movie. I was immediately intrigued by the idea, knowing what a powerful and inspirational story Bethany’s was. I asked them to keep me in mind if there were any roles that might be right for me. A few years went by and I finally got a call saying the movie was happening. They brought me in for the role of “Noah Hamilton”, Bethany’s older brother, and I landed the job.
DAILYSTOKE: When you read the script, and got to know the Hamilton family, what about Noah did you find most interesting? and Bethany?
ROSS THOMAS: Noah has been a huge advocate for Bethany’s professional surfing career since they were children. I come from a large family (three sisters and one brother) and I know there can be competition amongst siblings. Naturally brothers and sisters vie for attention and the spotlight. But the interesting thing about Noah is his humble, selfless attitude toward life and his sister’s success. Rather than focus on his own surfing or striving for a professional career for himself, he commits himself to Bethany and puts his heart into helping her succeed. I find that very honorable. When Bethany suffers the shark attack, Noah steps up as a protective older brother to both encourage his sister and shield her from the aggressively intrusive media.
I think Bethany speaks for herself. Just look at everything she has endured and the good that she has created in the wake of losing her arm. She is a powerful woman and uses that power for the good of mankind. It is refreshing to see such a globally recognized and famous person using their voice to help spread positivity and hope.
DAILYSTOKE: Where did you guys shoot, and did you get some time in for some waves or was it all business?
ROSS THOMAS: We shot on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawai’i. I love it there…it’s paradise. The icing on the cake is that we were there during peak big wave season, so we got to experience some epic swells. I took every opportunity I had to surf while I was there. If I wasn’t on set, I was in the water. Chris Brochu (Timmy Hamilton) and I dialed our breaks in right away. We rented an old surf truck with racks for the two of us and hit the waves almost every day. We loved surfing a break called “Freddies” and occasionally we’d drift over the “V-Land”. I was on cloud-nine for months after getting back to the mainland. I still daydream about how awesome that experience was. Hawai’i is the place to be!
DAILYSTOKE: What’s it like to work alongside Anna Sophia Robb, and did she have to cut off her arm for the role!? How did they actually do that, just editing?
ROSS THOMAS: Haha! Jokester! No, Anna Sophia didn’t have to cut off her arm. It’s incredible what they can do in Hollywood these days! They painted her arm green and CGI-ed it out. I have to say, I saw the movie and thought, “wow…that is real deal!” They did a great job with the effects. Anna Sophia is a superb young actor and a true pleasure to work with. We became great friends on the set of “Soul Surfer” and I am really excited to watch her career as it continues to take off.
DAILYSTOKE: Tell us about your band, and your philanthropic activities?
ROSS THOMAS: I am a major advocate for indigenous rights and rainforest preservation. A large part of my spirituality is influenced by indigenous shamanism and and ancient tribal philosophies. Through my personal experiences with indigenous people, I have learned so much about life and the earth we live on. In my opinion, many of the remaining indigenous tribes really understand what it means to live harmoniously and sustainably with
the land and it’s natural resources. Last year I shot a short documentary film in the Peruvian rain forest called “Extraction: The Plundering of the Amarakaeri Reserve”, which documents first hand, the effects of oil exploitation on an indigenous people. I also collaborate with both the Survival International and Amazon Watch organizations. I recently met with Surfrider Foundation and plan to volunteer my time and efforts toward their “Rise Above Plastics” campaign, to help spread awareness about the harmful effects of plastics on our marine environment.
DAILYSTOKE: and what about the band?
ROSS THOMAS: I play the drums in an indie folk rock band called “The Outlaws & Astronomers” (http://www.myspace.com/theoutlawsandastronomers). The band is comprised of myself and three of my really good friends. Our lead singer, Jamie Roberts, writes most of the material (and is easily the best musician out of all of us). It’s funny because we always joke with him that he should fire us and link up with true career musicians and really take the show on the road. But he likes our camaraderie and the fusion it has with the music we make. We don’t get to play together as often as we’d like, but it makes for a really great creative outlet to let loose and rock out. One day we are going to pile into an old Winnebago and drive across the U.S., playing a bunch of small towns a long the way and howling at the moon!