Actress Leven Rambin had a rather huge year in 2012, with two major releases that hit theaters. She portrayed the District 1 tribute Glimmer in the spring blockbuster The Hunger Games, and starred as Kim, the love interest of Jonny Weston’s Jay Moriarty in Chasing Mavericks, which is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD. I recently had a chance to speak with the talented actress over the phone about stepping into the world of surfing for Chasing Mavericks. Here’s what she had to say.
I read that you weren’t an avid surfer before taking on the role. What can you say about this surfing boot camp you had to go through before production?
Leven Rambin: Yeah. I had never really surfed before, and I didn’t know anything about Santa Cruz. I went to surf boot camp, and what I didn’t know was I was going to get this whole community of people that I love, and am still very close to. Santa Cruz is a very tight-knit community. Along with the surfing, I really got a wonderful experience with the local people, who took Jonny (Weston) and I in like we were their own. They are such a strong body of people, and I didn’t know any of that.
It must have been interesting playing a real person. Did you meet with the real Kim a lot?
Leven Rambin: Yeah, I got to meet her. The first time that I met her, she just started crying. All of her life was coming to this. Her whole story was coming to this, after years of living it, and she just had so much emotion about it, and had to much to say about her relationship with Jay, and how they were. I can’t imagine having to explain my story to some random actress, you know, and trusting her enough to make it right. She was so thrilled that I was determined to play her, which was a huge honor for her to indulge me like that. We still keep in touch. I learned so much from her, as a person, and a woman. I was really lucky to have met her and know her.
Was there one thing in particular that surprised you about the sport itself, aside from the community you spoke about?
Leven Rambin: I didn’t know I was going to love surfing so much, and be actually good at it. I didn’t know that I would be a surf groupie and go to all the competitions around the country. It’s just something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. It’s always something that’s gnawing at me, ‘I wish I was surfing, I wish I was surfing.’ I just learned a lot about letting go, and being carefree. When you’re connected to the ocean, you really don’t think about what’s going on with your email or texts or any of that. You’re just a lot more liberated. That was a really amazing aspect of it.
This is one of Jonny Weston’s first major roles. What can you say about working with him, and what he brought to the set?
Leven Rambin: He is a very complex person, and I do not envy his position of being a very green actor and carrying a huge studio movie. I’ve been working for 10 years, approximately. I thought he really went full method with it, and he became this person who was so open, just these huge eyes that invite everyone in. He really became the character. People don’t know that, because they don’t know him, at all, because he’s so new. He turned out to be nothing like that. I thought he did a great job, and I wish him luck in the future.
It was reported that director Michael Apted came in for Curtis Hanson. I know that’s very unusual for any film. Can you talk about that process, and how that altered the dynamic on the set?
Leven Rambin: We were all going in one direction, and then all of the sudden, it was different. It was not typical. It was a hard transition, because we were all so in love with what we were already doing. Michael Apted is a super-gracious guy, and he did his research to try and understand what we were all experiencing. I think the movie had it’s spotty points, but Michaeldid the best he could with it.
That was towards the end of the shoot, correct?
Leven Rambin: Yeah. I can’t imagine how difficult that was for him to come in at the end and then edit the whole thing, having not been there before.
I read that a bunch of cameras were actually lost during the surfing scenes.
Leven Rambin: Yeah, we lost like eight cameras in the surf. We did some pretty heinous stuff, with the actors and cameramen and the DP. Surprisingly, everyone turned out OK at the end of it, but we did some pretty gnarly stuff with the people involved. Luckily, everyone was super down. I did some pretty crazy stuff that I never thought I would do, for the sake of a movie, like surfing in eight-foot waves in pitch-black darkness, where I can’t see anything. That still haunts me, kind of, in my nightmares, but it was worth it, it was fun. It was totally out of everyone’s comfort zone, but everyone did it, because Jay would have done it.
What can you say about seeing these massive breaks for the first time? Was your training actually on these huge waves as well?
Leven Rambin: Yeah, it was in Santa Cruz. I got to go to Santa Cruz and surf every day for six months. I got to the point where I would go out on my own or with friends. My lifelong best friend now lives there, and I never came back to L.A. when I had a week off or something. I was there every day.
Gerard Butler has such a presence on screen. Was there anything in particular that you took away from working with him?
Leven Rambin: He’s been in the business for so long, and he’s so passionate and energized. He has so much to offer. He wasn’t a surfer either, but he became so enraptured with the people, and it was so important to him to be truthful to the story and connect with these people. Instead of just being an actor who’s showing up to a job, he went above and beyond and made it something really special for him. I was really glad to work with him, and I would love to work with him again.
You have a few projects coming up that are interesting, like Two Night Stand. That sounds like a fun, different kind of way to go into a movie like that. Can you talk about who you play in that?
Leven Rambin: Yeah. In Two Night Stand I play Daisy. The movie takes place over two days, and Miles Teller, who is fantastic, is in it. I play his ex-girlfriend who comes in the end and kicks his ass a little bit. I try to bring him down to earth. It was fun to do something with an actor like that, who is so comedic. I haven’t really done comedy in awhile, so it was refreshing.
It must have been a nice change of pace.
Leven Rambin: Yeah, and just working with Miles was fun because we got to improvise and do a bunch of stuff. That’s always fun, as an actor. It’s going to be hilarious. I’m so excited to see it.
You also play Clarisse in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. There hasn’t been a trailer released for that yet, so I’m still waiting to see what this is going to look like.
Leven Rambin: It’s going to be epic. That’s all I can say. It’s going to be epic, it’s going to be funny. I play a different character than I’ve ever played. She’s kind of like a mean girl, but she has her reasons, and I think it’s going to be really great. I can’t wait to see it.
A mythological mean girl.
Leven Rambin: Yeah, yeah.
What would you like to say to those who didn’t get to see Chasing Mavericks in theaters, about why they should pick it up on Blu-ray and DVD this week?
Leven Rambin: I think that it’s a great story, whether you love surfing or not. It’s so inspiring to young people and old people alike, to really appreciate your life, and live your days like it’s your last, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. That’s what I learned to do during this movie. It’s just really heartfelt and I think it’s a good message to send out there. It’s about relationships, it’s about fear, it’s about insecurity, and I think everyone can relate to those things. I personally really enjoyed watching it. I’d love for the movie to keep growing and for people to keep loving it.
Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
Leven Rambin: Thank you.