Gerard Butler Joins Surfing Picture ‘Mavericks’

Almost a year ago we heard that Curtis Hanson (The River Wild, L.A. Confidential) would make a film about the late surfer Jay Moriarty, who rode massive Northern California wave breaks called ‘mavericks,’ but died at 22 in a diving accident.

When we first reported on the film Sean Penn was rumored; the role he was very vaguely linked to is Rick ‘Frosty’ Hesson, the young surfer’s friend and mentor. Now Gerard Butler will play that role instead.

Deadline has the details, saying that the Walden Media film will be based on a script by Kario Salem and Brandon Hooper. (Gerard Butler, by the way, is now an exec producer, too.)  The search is on for an actor to play Jay Moriarty. We don’t know to what degree that actor will be required to show some surfing skills on screen. I imagine it would be a lot harder to do the sort of CGI head-swapping that we saw in Black Swan for someone moving against a variable, uncontrolled background like the ocean. But that’s never stopped those who’ve made surfing pictures in the past.

Other than the casting of Gerard Butler, not much has changed about the film since we reported on it in March 2010, so here’s a recap of what I said then:

Moriarity’s obituary at The Independent gives a lot of the young surfer’s history, and offers a quote from the surfer about what will likely be the real core of the movie: “A lot of the training is mental. You’re learning to control your fears. You don’t get to be black belt in a day.” More from the obit:

Born in Georgia in 1978, the son of a skydiving Green Beret, he learned to surf at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz, in northern California, at the age of nine. Moriarity achieved unintentional fame when, in the winter of 1994, as an unknown 16-year-old barely apprenticed into big-wave surfing, he paddled into a smoking 20-footer at Maverick’s (some say 30ft), took off, hovered, and was pinned back to the face of the wave by an updraft, his arms outstretched, in a moment of crucifixion, before being flung down into the pit.

A photo of that spectacular wipeout with its impression of martyrdom made the cover of Surfer magazine, appeared on posters worldwide, and turned the teenager into a surfing icon. Four days later, with a smaller wave, Maverick’s succeeded in drowning one of Hawaii’s legendary big-wave surfers, Mark Foo. That death both secured Maverick’s murderous status among surfing cognoscenti and spurred on Moriarity.

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