AnnaSophia Robb stars in Soul Surfer (out April 8), the real life story of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm in a shark attack. J-14 sat down with AnnaSophia to talk about her inspirational movie, her hobbies, and her biggest insecurity.
J-14: What was it like playing a real person, as opposed to a fictional character? Did you study with Bethany Hamilton?
AnnaSophia Robb: When I found out about the Soul Surfer, I read and annotated Bethany's book. I had notes and questions -- all sorts of stuff. As I got to know her, I realized that I just needed to hang out with her. I needed to spend time getting to know her. We've actually become very good friends. I love spending time with her and hanging out with her. She was very open with me, and if I ever had a question, she would answer about how she felt about or how the attack happened, or how her relationships changed. She's also an extremely determined person. You have to be to be able to live that lifestyle and be a competitive world-class surfer. She loves the ocean. That was kind of something I got to develop, got to learn from her and gain my own love for the ocean as well through her.
J-14: Had you surfed before at all?
AnnaSophia: I had one lesson with my dad three years ago, which barely even counts as surfing. I trained for about six weeks for the movie. We'd only have one day off on Sundays, so I would always try to go surfing then. Sometimes I'd go paddle after work. I didn't always have time, but I tried. But I love it now. I do it any chance I get.
J-14: What was it like working with Carrie Underwood? Are you a fan of her music?
AnnaSophia: Oh, for sure. I love her -- I mean, obviously. I don't have anything bad to say about any of my cast members because they were all so wonderful. Carrie was amazing. We only had one week to shoot all of her stuff, and she really rose to the occasion. She's such a performer and such a really sweet, humble woman. I have a lot of respect for her. I wish she could have been on the shoot longer.
J-14: After the shark attack, Bethany begins feeling a bit self-conscious about her arm. Have you ever felt self-conscious in your own life?
AnnaSophia: Oh, for sure. I think all girls (and boys also), all go through their own insecurities and struggles about their bodies and being uncertain like if you're comfortable with your weight. I always think I'm too short, or my legs are too short, or I'm too flat, or all sorts of different things. But you really have to remember that everybody is made differently. My parents have been a huge help in making me confident and not making me feel bad about myself. Work to do your best but be happy with yourself ultimately.
J-14: What do you do when you're not working?
AnnaSophia: School -- I'm a junior (in high school) right now. I live in Denver. I'm actually on my way home from school right now. But I hang out with my friends. I snowboard. I went snowboarding last weekend. I love it. I don't love it, however, as much as surfing.
Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Sheehan