Jeri Jacquin, Movie Maven
Jenise Jacquin, Film Brat

Coming to theatres this Friday is the true story of surfer Jay Moriarity, who was captured surfing a Maverick at Half Moon north of Santa Cruz. Photos taken by a photographer brought Jay worldwide attention making the cover of Surfer magazine. Along with this, Jay became a competitor winning many awards during his short career.

The film tells the story of young Jay, meeting Frosty Hesson and the relationship that followed between the two. The story centers on surfing yes, but also the lessons they learn from each other that brought them close.

Playing the role of Jay Moriarity is Jonny Weston, a young actor who has come onto the scene with his 2011 role in ABOUT CHERRY and JOHN DIES AT THE END. In the film CHASING MAVERICKS, its Weston’s first opportunity at not only taking on a major role, but also portraying a real person.

We had the opportunity to speak with Weston about his role in the film, working with Gerard Butler and his own turn at chasing a maverick!

Thanks for talking with us today Jonny.

Oh absolutely, I appreciate you both coming to talk with me. Are you two related?

MovieMaven: Yes, she is my daughter.

Seriously? That is so cool!

FilmBrat: That’s how we roll.

Wow, you got her into the family business?

FilmBrat: I really love this.

That’s great!

MovieMaven: First we have to tell you that we so enjoyed the fact that the film was done in Santa Cruz.

FilmBrat: I loved it having lived there for three years.

Really? You did?

FilmBrat: Yes! The first scene where you and Gerard are walking down the hill with your boards…

Yes, the cliff street.

FilmBrat: Yes, you know the train tracks that cross to the boardwalk?

Yes, I do.

FilmBrat: That was my house right across the street from there, the old Victorian.

The one that’s slanted?

FilmBrat: Yes, that’s the house.

That is so incredible! We actually shot more there but it was cut from the film. It’s such a beautiful town. We had our screening there with Jay’s family.

FilmBrat: Did you surf before you made the film?

I surfed for ten years but I certainly needed special training.

FilmBrat: Did you train with Gerard?

Yes, we trained at the same guy but had to train us separately for some things. There was a point where I surfed a Maverick one day.

FilmBrat: I was going to ask you that.

I was a monster paddler and strong for that but they made sure that I knew what I was doing.

FilmBrat: Especially that part of the beach. I use to go there and watch from the cliffs.

If you think they looked big there, imagine them close up.

FilmBrat: No, I’m good

I have a life long invitation to go out during all the contests and go on Jeff Clarks’ actual boat.

FilmBrat: Did you get to do anything else in Santa Cruz?

Yes, I went everywhere for about four months. I made sure I got out.

FilmBrat: Did you like Pleasure Pizza?

Pleasure Pizza was great, I loved it there and I worked there. They taught me how to make their recipe. I figured I had all this time on my hands I might as well learn how to make Pleasure Pizza.

MovieMaven: Of course, I mean in case this acting thing doesn’t pan out you can always make pizza right?

Absolutely , I’d have another job waiting for me. Can you imagine that? I’d eat there all the time.

MovieMaven: You worked so close with Gerard, when it came time to do the scene before you paddle out to the Maverick is such a touching scene. Did you feel it was more emotional that you thought it would be?

I don’t think Gerard knew how he was going to approach that and neither did I. We shot that very late and he came up and started saying it and got extremely emotional. It was one of those unexpected clutch scenes in the movie. I don’t think we realized how touching the story was. We intended to make it inspirational obviously but it all came out so naturally. We got some of the best footage too so its legitimate stuff.

MovieMaven: In the film there is a close encounter with a shark, how was that for you?

Oh yea, we did have a couple encounters with sharks there and it could be very dangerous.

FilmBrat: So this is your first lead?

Yes, I’ve done some indie films and they are coming out as well but this is my first lead and true story. I’m starting another film soon as well in San Francisco. The indie film is called JOHN DIES IN THE END which is a legendary cult film directed by Don Costarelli who did the PHANTASM series.

FilmBrat: How did you get this role?

I throw myself out there and auditioned. I so understood Jay and captured his spirit early on even before the auditions began so they couldn’t hire anyone else. I think I got in over my head with a real life character but I pulled it off because of Jay’s family and their support.

FilmBrat: You got me and I’m not easily got.

Right on! For Frosty and Jay’s wife Kim they came for the screening in Santa Cruz and told me Jay would be proud. That was it for me, that’s all I needed hear.

MovieMaven: How is it working with Leonidas?

I woke up every morning, walked out and screamed 300! He could have done anything he wanted to and I think in a way we both needed each other to make a good film. I needed him to be unselfish and open-minded actor and really open his heart to me. In a way he needed me because I came in with a raw purity and that inspired him and reminded him of when he started.

FilmBrat: Do you feel a bond with him now?

I see him as an older brother in a lot of ways. During filming I think we understood that we couldn’t be buddy-buddy or the chemistry wouldn’t work. It would have made a different film. Now that the film is over he’s there with the questions I have about my career. He is such a brilliant actor and he’s so aware that it takes more than one person to make a movie.

MovieMaven: He gets a chance to be really emotional in this film.

He gets to be a tough guy in this film but in a totally different way.

FilmBrat: Did you get to keep the surfboard? I’m dying to know!

I got to keep six or seven surfboards after the film was over. I got the short and long board. When I first moved to Santa Cruz to start filming, Bob Pearson was Jay’s board shaper and his best friend. He pulled me into his shaping studio warehouse and he said, “you and me are going to shape a board like me and Jay use to”. He helped me shape a stringer and took me under his wing.

MovieMaven: You said you got to surf a maverick. You can’t even say something like ‘how was that?’

I know, I don’t have 20 minutes to explain it. It’s hard to remember exactly what it was. I just remember the general feeling and going fast as well. One thing I do remember specifically is trying not to buckle when I did the bottom turn. Trying to pull that off was amazing and I’ll never do it again.

FilmBrat: Yes you will.

Surf mavericks? No way! I was in the best shape of my life.

FilmBrat: But you are still really young.

Yes, I’ll be out there watching with Jeff Clark on his boat.

MovieMaven: You are going to want to jump out of the boat.

That’s what I was telling Mikey Hart, Jay’s boy and they were always partners on the jet skis and he said, “you’ll get closer and closer till you are in the water again”.

FilmBrat: It had to be a great experience.

I couldn’t go the rest of my life without seeing it again. Its one of the most beautiful things that nature has to offer. Being down at the bottom is not, that’s nature telling you that you’ve crossed the boundary. But what’s cool at the end when “Jay” is surfing the wave, the pop ups and everything you can see me on the Mavericks wave. That’s not special effects. That’s so different from BLUE CRUSH and such.

FilmBrat: You can tell that you had a connecting with the surf, love for the water.

Absolutely, that’s my home.

And it showed in every seen Weston is in the water. Playing the legendary Jay Moriarity seemed to come naturally to this young actor and his performance is well done. This Friday from Walden Media is CHASING MAVERICKS.

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.

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