Sharni Vinson, 27, is one of the many former Aussie soap stars enjoying international success since leaving home for the bright lights of Hollywood. She stars in Blue Crush 2, the sequel to the popular 2002 surf flick that starred Kate Bosworth, which is out on DVD today. We had the chance to catch up with the lovely Sharni yesterday, where she talked about her experience of making the movie, the upcoming Bait 3D, and why she’s not worried about Hollywood stereotypes.
Were you a fan of the original Blue Crush?
Yeah, I was a big fan. It’s an incredible film and it’s got a great girl power, girls-out-there-kicking-butt message. It was weird — I was in Hawaii for the premiere of the first film in 2001! I was 19. It’s really weird because I met them all there, and then now it’s like nine years on, you’re in the sequel, and it’s quite funny to watch how a full circle can come back. As soon as the audition came up for the second [movie] I knew in my heart that I wanted to be attached in some way, and I’m very fortunate to be.
Keep reading for more from Sharni . . .
Did you already know how to surf?
You’d think so, coming from Australia! I grew up a swimmer, and for 15 years I was up and down a black line, squad training, I went through the nippers and the life saving club, so I was very comfortable paddling on a board and standing, and I had good balance from dancing, so you’d think that that would all tie in to surfing your whole life, and I live in Cronulla, but I’d never tried to surf until this came up. I had my first surf lesson in Malibu and stood up pretty quickly, on my fourth attempt, and then I got to South Africa and they told me that my double was a goofy footer, and I was a natural footer, so I had to switch feet and then learn how to surf with the other foot forward. So now I’m kind of ambidextrous [laughs].
What was it like to shoot in South Africa?
The best experience! It’s pretty mind-blowing — the country is just exquisite. To wake up every morning and go to work, which is on a beach, and to film in the set that they had created, which was this incredible beach hut — it was just like my dream house. We really did adopt that surfer’s lifestyle the whole time we were there — some nights we slept in the house. And we were up at six in the morning, lying on the beach, absolutely living the surfer’s lifestyle. It was almost like method acting in this film. It was just special, too, because we worked with a monkey in the movie — he was a lot cuter onscreen than he was off. We had rhinos, elephants and really awesome animals which were all about South Africa . . . This film, being in South Africa, is much more international [than the first].
How did you like using your Aussie accent in this film?
It was just too easy! It was like, ‘Is this a job?’ I get to wake up and go to the beach, put in a bikini, lie in the sun, go surfing, and every now and then I’d jump up and say something mean and nasty — that’s fun too, to just play the mean girl. It was really easy to be able to be Australian and not have to think about dialect coaching. I grew up my whole life in Cronulla, and even though I’m not a surfer a lot of my friends are, a lot of the people I went to school with competed internationally in the surf circuit — I know from them that the surfer mentality is quite aggressive, competitive, territorial, there’s many a feud that goes down out in that surf, and I think that’s what this girl [Sharni’s character Tara] is representing.
You showed off your dance skills in Step Up 3D, and now you get to surf in Blue Crush 2 — what are some of your other hidden talents?
I was a dancer from the age of six — my mum was, my grandma was — so that was just a natural thing that people weren’t aware of from Home and Away. It was really nice when that audition came around and I felt like I was supposed to do that movie. It’s like when things that you train for during your childhood come back, like in a circle, and now I’m able to incorporate these skills into my acting. I have a huge passion for horse riding, I’ve grown up on a farm with horses — hopefully a country and western film will be down the line, where I can utilise that too. All in all I’m a physical person, I always have been, and now I’m finding it’s like my niche in Hollywood — the physical girl, the action girl, so that’s where I see myself going — more action movies, more martial arts-type films.
Are you worried about being stereotyped?
Stereotyping as the action girl? I want that! I want the casting directors to literally go, “We’re casting a new action movie,” and they can’t go past my name. You are stereotyped to that point, but I’m happy with that ’cause I wanna do action films. And I don’t think you’re ever stereotyped to the point where you can’t do anything else. But that would be my main thing that I’d wanna do.
What can you tell us about Bait 3D?
It’s my first Australian film. It comes out in September. It was an amazing cast, a bunch of Australians. I hadn’t been back for a while and it was a great opportunity to come back and spend a third of last year in Australia. It was a really incredible film to have worked on — it was my second 3D film but my first underwater 3D film. I love being on the set of a 3D movie — there’s something really special about the way it’s shot and how you can watch your scene immediately afterwards with 3D glasses on, and it’s all happening on set in 3D. And the animatronic sharks are incredible. The money they put into them to make them absolutely detailed was so fascinating to watch.
Do you still keep in touch with the Home and Away cast?
I have them all on my Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is the best way to stay in touch with friends. You can always go on and find out what they’re up to without having to make phone calls because everyone’s so busy. We all live very close together in Hollywood but it’s funny because it’s like you don’t really run into them as much as you would think. And it’s because we’re all fortunate to be working! I’m very close to Isabel Lucas, she’s just around the corner, but it’s very rare that we’re in the same city at the same time. It’s usually at events like G’Day LA and Australians in Film Awards where you see everyone, and that’s your opportunity to catch up, and they’re always great fun.
Who have you been most star-struck by?
The first celebrity I ever saw in America was Britney Spears. It was in 2004 at the Cheesecake Factory — we were just sitting at a booth and she walked in and sat in the booth neighbouring us. Since then, they’re everywhere. Everywhere you look there’s another face. You actually become friends with these people because they are the same events as you. So people like David Beckham, that you would be star-struck by, is like a friend now. You see him and you go, “Hey, how are you?” It just becomes normal and I think that’s cool because you realise that these people are just normal.