Actress Elizabeth Mathis discusses playing Pushy in Blue Crush 2, learning how to surf, shooting in South Africa, and more.
Elizabeth Mathis is an actress you may have seen pop up in big moves over the past few years. She portrayed Tess in Enchanted, Nicole in Unstoppable, and one of the "sirens" in the sci-fi hit Tron: Legacy. The actress will surely get a big push from her latest project, Blue Crush 2, where she plays, ironically, a character named Pushy. The story follows a young surfer named Dana (Sasha Jackson) who journeys to South Africa to fulfill her recently-deceased mother's dream: to surf the legendary waves of Jeffrey Bay. Elizabeth Mathis' Pushy is one of the South African surf locals Dana gets into adventures with along the way.
Blue Crush 2 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 7, and I recently had the chance to speak with Elizabeth Mathis over the phone about this surfing drama. Here's what she had to say.
Were you a fan of the first movie before hearing about the sequel, and can you talk about your first reactions to the script?
Elizabeth Mathis: Yeah, I was a big fan of the first movie, Blue Crush. It was one of those movies where, as a young girl, you would watch and just say, 'Oh, they're so cool. These women are so strong and powerful and sexy.' Reading this script, the story line was extremely different. It was a whole different story with new characters, but the whole element that surrounded it was the same as the first, these strong, beautiful female surfers. It was really great. I loved that aspect of it.
Do you have any background in surfing? Was there a lot of training you had to do for this?
Elizabeth Mathis: No, I didn't have any background at all. We went through like three weeks of full-on boot camp, which included surf training, breathing courses, you name it, we did it. We prepared ourselves as much as humanly possible, before we started shooting the water scenes, especially.
How confident do you feel about your surfing abilities now, after this experience?
Elizabeth Mathis: You know, I'm not doing 360s on the lip of a curl or anything, but I'm definitely getting out in the water and having a good time, catching some waves.
Is that something that you want to keep doing? Have you caught the surfing bug, so to speak?
Elizabeth Mathis: Absolutely. It's funny because you can't be out there, surfing for three months continuously, in South Africa, of all places, and not catch the bug. It was crazy because all of our crew was from South Africa and they all loved the water. Any break they had, they would just grab one of the boards that were laying around and just go surf, and come back, ready to shoot. Surfers truly love the sport.
Did you have a lot of time with the rest of your cast members to get together before shooting? Were you all training together?
Elizabeth Mathis: Yeah, we were all training together, which was really nice, because it gave us a chance to create this bond and camaraderie with each other, and this whole love for the surf family.
Can you talk a bit about the experience of shooting in South Africa? When I first read about this movie, I was intrigued that they were shooting and setting this movie in South Africa.
Elizabeth Mathis: I really feel that South Africa is just one of those places that everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime. I've been to South Africa before, but I've never been to the places that we were able to go to here. It was beautiful. There were places we went to that not even people on our South African crew had ever been to. It was great that we were able to tap into that part of South Africa, and really make it home. Also, Pushy's character is a local South African, so to really vibe into where she's from and really make that country my own, was really important to me. I really enjoyed it. It was beautiful and the beauty really comes out in this film. You really get to see South Africa in this film.
Since you had to play a South African native, were there a lot of things that surprised you about the culture down there, or things that you really embraced?
Elizabeth Mathis: It's funny, because nothing really surprised me, I guess. I'm originally from Detroit (laughs), so not too many things surprise me, I guess. We were there during the World Cup, and the country was extremely alive. The energy was extremely pure and positive. Maybe going through where Pushy is originally from, the shantytowns and things like that in South Africa, maybe that was a bit eye-opening for me, to see how people really do live like this, and not necessarily by choice. Seeing that first-hand was definitely an eye-opener. It really was an amazing experience, to get to see the different sides to South Africa.
Can you talk about the things you enjoyed about playing Pushy. It's an awesome name, first of all.
Elizabeth Mathis: I know, right?
Can you talk about the things that you could most relate to the character, and things that aren't quite so similar to your own self?
Elizabeth Mathis: OK. To be honest with you, there is no way that you're going to catch me surfing, or in water, every single day. Elizabeth, her hair would get messed up a lot, and that's just not conducive to Elizabeth's lifestyle (Laughs). Pushy is all for it. She's in the water every single day, she lives for surfing and for the water, lives for the thrill of catching that wave. Those are our differences. The one thing I love about Pushy is she's a fighter and, although she didn't make the Roxy team before, she was just pushing as hard as she could to make it happen again. She's loyal to her friends, which is really beautiful to see. She just has those characteristics that I think every guy or girl would want in a friend or a girlfriend.
There is a lot of bonus features on the DVD. I was wondering if you've had a chance to check that out yet, and if you have a favorite special feature?
Elizabeth Mathis: No, I haven't had a chance to go through the bonus features yet. People keep mentioning how it's like 40 minutes long, so I'm wondering what's on that little bonus feature. I'm a little nervous to press play. No, I'll have to go through it and, from what I hear, there are some great things on there that didn't make it into the movie. We shot so much film for this movie, and so many great scenes. I think the first cut of the movie was like four hours long, so they cut a lot. One of my favorite scenes of the movie is the elephant scene, which actually made it into the film, which I was really happy about. It was a very serene, peaceful, calming experience, and one of those things you'll probably never get to experience again in your lifetime. It was so cool.
Can you talk a bit about working with your director, Mike Elliott? What kind of style did he bring to a movie like this?
Elizabeth Mathis: Whenever you say Mike's name, my immediate response is to laugh. He's so funny and he really kept the energy of the film light-hearted, and easy and fun. I don't think he took anything over the top, or too serious. That's always great and, the one thing that Mike was really great about is he kind of let us do our thing, in a way. He really allowed us to play and have a good time. He was really happy with what he got at the end of the day.
Is there anything that you're working on now or that you're looking to join, that you can talk about?
Elizabeth Mathis: Not anything specific that I can speak about right now. I'm just enjoying the process. I've been really blessed and happy to have this ride so far, and this is a really great film which I hope everyone enjoys. I'm just excited to see how it turns out.
Finally, what would you like to say to fans of the first movie about why they should check out Blue Crush 2 on Blu-ray or DVD this week?
Elizabeth Mathis: Because it's fun. There are hot girls and hot guys! I think it's truly a love story to South Africa. The country plays a major role in this film and it's a story about friendship, and the journey of these girls and what they go through. Any surfer or athletic person will really love this film. It will speak to a lot of different people.
Excellent. That's about all I have for you, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for your time, and best of luck with anything else you have coming up.
Elizabeth Mathis: Thanks, Brian.
You can watch Elizabeth Mathis portray Pushy in Blue Crush 2, which you can currently find on Blu-ray and DVD shelves everywhere.
Blue Crush 2 was released June 7th, 2011 and stars Sasha Jackson, Sharni Vinson, Tiffany Hines, Elizabeth Mathis, Gideon Emery, Ben Milliken, Rodger Halston, Benny Ou. The film is directed by Mike Elliott.