The SurfersVillage Interview
Hollywood's favorite big wave hellman on Point Break then and now
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 May, 2015 - Las Vegas, Nevada - Laird Hamilton is seemingly tireless, ageless, and possibly, truly, fearless.
In the last few months he's braved a barrage of mockery while "Surf[ing] the Earth with the GolfBoard"—a board- / Segway-like golf cart device meant to make golf more interesting/exciting. He's launched a fitness machine, the TotalWave, with his longtime partner, Gabrielle Reece.
And he has braved macking Chopes and Jaws while filming for the upcoming Christmas blockbuster, Point Break—Ericson Core's reimagining of the 1991 film of the same name.
We caught up with Laird Hamilton at Caesar's Palace, during CinemeCon in Las Vegas, at a press event kicking off Point Break's publicity campaign.
Classic shot of Laird at Peahi © Edward Baldwin
SurfersVillage: How was your experience working on Point Break?
Laird Hamilton: Of the Hollywood features that I've been involved in—I was in Descendents with Clooney, and Alexander Paine, who is a phenomenal director, this was the least difficult. Ericson is a phenomenal director. Super down to earth, and in the vein of Alexander Paine. An artist, you know? He's ultimately an artist.
SV: How do you feel about the film as it's being finished?
LH: The people that he got involved and the way he went about it, it was a depiction of surfing that I can stand behind. I mean, let the chips fall as they may—people are crazy about Point Break. But this approach, the way they've gone about it, this is paying the respect the original deserves. And ultimately paying a respect to the philosophy that the original characters had.
SV: What was your involvement in the 91 film?
LH: I was working behind the scenes. I mean, I was blocking for Double-D [Darrick Doerner] at Waimea!
SV: Like keeping people from going on waves?
LH: Yeah! It was a busy day! We were trying to block the guys to make sure they didn't go on him. And then run rescue for him. They had a water rescue, but I was running, like, safety for him.
SV: What was the lineup like at Chopes?
LH: They were a lot more cooperative. Part of it was that we had a lot people from Tahiti working. Most of the best Tahitian surfers worked on the film.
And that lineup is a lot easier to control than Waimea. It wasn't during a busy time that all the guys were there or anything, also.
SV: How does the surfing footage compare to Doerner at Waimea, or Archy and Dino Andino in the original?
LH: I was with Darrick Doerner when he filmed that scene at the end of the film, at Waimaea. And I was at Teahupoo as well. And you know, it's just the next level up. You're at chopes, and you're at Jaws, which are a lot larger waves than Waimea, and the other breaks.
The intensity of the size of surf that they had, and those athletes. I really think everything about this film is just the next level up. The original was a level at its time, and now this is at the level of this time.
SV: Did you ever think you'd be involved with a second Point Break?
LH: No! I mean, I was at Waimea on the first one! I don't know, life has a lot of turns and you never know what's coming next. I would have liked to have been more involved, but the nature of surfing is you can't predict it. I mean, a mountain is right there. You know, waves—the elusiveness. It takes so long to get it, and that's the challenge they had.