Hollywood comes to Teahupoo for Point Break II
Australian stunt-man Laurie Towner bounced off the Teahupoo reef yesterday and sprung his jaw in two. Pop! Holes in his neck! Holes in his head! Body all cut up! The second wave got him, too, and he blacked out and came to in the lagoon a few hundred metres in with tow-pal Laird pulling him out of the drink.
That’s the kinda thing that happens when you’re a stuntman on the remake of a schmaltz classic like 1991’s Point Break that requires the hero to ride the offspring of a “50-year-storm.” In this case, it was an ultra-long period swell which meant it was ultra-powerful but also ultra-slow.
And Laurie, 28, who prefers his tubs on the deep side, wasn’t going to have arm-chair jockeys telling the world he coulda got deeper. How many chances was he going to get?
Laurie is, or at least was, ’cause it’s the past tense now that he’s sitting in hospital waiting for his gal to arrive from Australia, the stunt double for Johnny Utah, the film’s FBI agent protagonist. Laurie can’t fly ’cause “so much water rushed into his head and into his sinuses,” says Dylan Longbottom, the other major stunt surfer, who doubles for the film’s conflicted surf guru villain Bohdi.
Bruce Irons stepped in for Laurie and for the rest of yesterday, and today (Friday, Tahiti time), he and Dylan doubled in tubes. Dylan, 40, who also shaped all the tow and paddle boards used in the movie, says the pair got “some crazy, drain-y ones. I was so deep and I was pumping and pumping and flying and I’m thinking…shit… he’s gone and I look back and I see him right at the end come flying out. I couldn’t believe it!”
For the past two-and-a-half weeks all the home-stays, pensions and hotels near and around Teauhupoo as well as hotels in the Tahitian capital of Papeete have been filled with that wonderful mix of Hollywood investors, directors and actors and production crew along with the hardest-edge watermen water patrol guys (Brian Keaulana, Raimana Van Bastolaer, Vetea “Poto” David) as well as camera men (including the most enduring Don King) and surfers.
Laird Hamilton stars as a vagabond tow driver and was also Laurie’s tow driver, now Bruce’s. Dylan has Raimana, who also acts as coordinator for all the boats, cranes, skis, drones and everything else that comes with a movie that ain’t bringing home a shekel in change from a hundred mill.
Such an event doesn’t come without casualties, even with Laurie excepted. Poto’s ski sunk ’cause of a too-heavy camera attached to it and another ski was flipped and the 200-gee camera strapped onto the sled was drowned.
There was even a fight! At least according to one photographer.
“It’s been a hilarious couple of days with Hollywood trying to shut it off to the locals which failed miserably, Hawaiian water patrol flipping skis, a fight out the back amongst a couple of very well-known riders and basically all the superstar riders being dominated by a 16-year-old local.”
The kid was Manoa Drollet’s little bro, Matahi, getting the deepest and biggest tub.
“He’s only 17, man, and he looks younger,” says Dylan, “and he went off, mate. He got the wave of the day. The biggest drainer. He went deep and made it. On one of my boards too!”
And what does Dylan think the movie going to be like? Cheese or Rock? Well, for one, he can’t give away too much, ’cause he’s read the script and it’s secret and shit, but he’s seen the rushes. “This one’s for real,” says Dylan. “This movie’s going to be sick, man!”