Gerard Butler opens up about Chasing Mavericks near-death experience

Scottish actor Gerard Butler has talked about caused a splash on set and scaring his co-stars when he was dragged underwater filming surfer movie Chasing Mavericks – having to be rescued and later hospitalised.

The film is the inspirational true story of surfing phenomenon Jay Moriarity, played by Jonny Weston.

Gerard Butler plays a local legend who agrees to train Jay and prepares him to tackle one of the biggest waves on earth, Mavericks.

The Scottish star joked at yesterday’s L.A. premiere: "I was world champion before but I didn't put a lot of time into it.

"No, I didn't really. I think maybe I surfed in my life three times.

“I did actually many, many years ago with my cousins who live down in San Clement,e and I remember them trying to put me in the water and I was so embarrassed.

“I was 17 years old. I was over from Scotland and thinking, 'what am I doing here?'"

One day for the shoot Butler pushed himself too hard. Accompanied by the crew and professional surfers, Butler was hit by a wave that nearly drowned him.

"It was terrifying," remembered co-star Jonny Weston.

"I had no idea if he was going to come up to be honest.

“When the wave cleared he wasn't there, and he wasn't there, and he wasn't there. He basically went a hundred yards in the water. He popped up and we were hoping it wasn't a seal or something, you know? He made it back and the look in his eyes, I think it changed his life forever."

Director Michael Apted also feared for Butler's life. "I think he was underwater for 40 seconds, which doesn't sound very much but imagine, it would be terrifying," he said.

"You don't know what's up, what's down, where the surface is. You are being pushed around. Horrifying."

Butler was hospitalized and later released. When asked if he regretted pushing himself so hard, he laughed and replied, "No, not at all’."

"I probably never really learn from my mistakes. In the next movie I'll be doing something else stupid. 'Gerard Butler just broke his leg doing this.'"

  • Chasing Mavericks opens in the UK on November 2.

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