Adrift in trou­bled wa­ters

Sunday News - - CRICKET -

Their chem­istry in Adrift is pal­pa­ble, but Sam Claflin says he and Shailene Woodley got off to a rocky start on the Fiji set of the movie.

Speak­ing ahead of the ro­man­tic-thriller’s de­but in New Zealand cine­mas on June 28, the 31-year-old Bri­tish ac­tor said he was hor­ri­fied to dis­cover that she couldn’t re­mem­ber meet­ing him pre­vi­ously.

‘‘We got off on the wrong foot,’’ he laughs. ‘‘I def­i­nitely opened with, ‘it’s good to see you again’, and she opened with, ‘nice to meet you’.’’

While he could for­give her for­get­ful­ness sur­round­ing a brief en­counter dur­ing a du­elling in­ter­view jun­ket (he for ro­man­tic drama Love, Rosie, she for fan­tasy flick Diver­gent), Claflin ad­mits to feel­ing a lit­tle hurt in her fail­ure to re­call a pho­to­shoot they did to­gether early in their ca­reers.

‘‘I was shoot­ing the first Hunger Games and she had just fin­ished The De­scen­dants. We were sit­ting on sun loungers dis­cussing how dis­gust­ing the decor was in the house we were shoot­ing in. There was all this taxi­dermy – loads of an­i­mals hung on the wall – it was re­ally gar­ish. I re­mem­ber us dis­cussing that for about 90 min­utes solidly. We had a re­ally good con­ver­sa­tion – it was a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for some­one to re­mem­ber some­one.’’

How­ever, it was a slight the Me Be­fore You and Their Finest star re­cov­ered from so that he could play the real life Richard Sharp who, along with his fi­ancee, Woodley’s Tami Old­ham, em­barked on an ill­fated 6400-kilo­me­tre voy­age from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983 as Hur­ri­cane Ray­mond bore down on them.

‘‘Truth­fully, it was re­ally easy to pre­tend to be in love with her,’’ says the fa­ther-of-two, who mar­ried fel­low ac­tor Laura Had­dock in 2013. ‘‘We have the same kind of ideals, be­liefs, out­look. We are both spir­i­tual peo­ple, love fam­ily, Hawaii, ad­ven­tur­ous to a point and work­ing hard.’’

De­scrib­ing Woodley as an ‘‘in­cred­i­ble team leader’’ (the 26-year-old was also a pro­ducer on Adrift), Claflin says she helped es­tab­lish a ter­rific on-set at­mos­phere.

‘‘She was so pas­sion­ate and gen­er­ous. She wanted to make sure that, no mat­ter what depart­ment some­one was in, they were be­ing looked af­ter.’’

For his own part, Claflin says that it was the phys­i­cal de­mands of the role that ap­pealed to him.

‘‘The fact that I had to learn how to sail was one of the draws for me. One of things I’ve al­ways said is that every job I do, I want GETTY IMAGES to chal­lenge my­self in some way, shape or form in a new way that I haven’t done be­fore. I was com­ing off the back of a job called The Nightin­gale [an Aus­tralian-shot gothic pe­riod thriller sched­uled for re­lease next year] for which I put on a tonne of weight, so for this I needed to lose a lot as quickly as pos­si­ble. That it­self is a huge chal­lenge.

‘‘But, I also liked the fact that this was quite light-hearted gen­er­ally, es­pe­cially the ro­mance side of it.’’

How­ever, while Woodley lapped up the op­por­tu­nity to talk to the real-life Old­ham when she vis­ited the set, Claflin found him­self tongue-tied.

‘‘I think I’d make the worst jour­nal­ist. I had so many ques­tions, so many things I want to ask, but I’m overly sen­si­tive and in­se­cure, and kind of didn’t just want to push the wrong but­tons, or ask some­thing that was overly dif­fi­cult, so I found it eas­ier to not ask any­thing.

‘‘I read the source ma­te­rial, her book, read the script and a cou­ple of ar­ti­cles that we man­aged to find on him.

‘‘What re­ally made me feel at ease though was when we went for lunch I was telling this story and I no­ticed that she had stopped talk­ing and had started lis­ten­ing and was star­ing at me and had tears in her eyes. Some­one asked if she was OK and I had that im­me­di­ate thing of, ‘what have I said, I said some­thing wrong?’. But she said, ‘No Sam, you just re­mind me so much of him’.’’

De­scrib­ing him­self as a quick learner, Claflin says the abil­ity to do more than one take helped him to get to grips with the sail­ing side of things. But was it in­tim­i­dat­ing know­ing that his direc­tor, Ever­est’s Bal­tasar Kor­makur, was a com­pet­i­tive sailor?

‘‘He spe­cialised in one spe­cific type of sail­ing, but we had to un­der­stand the en­tire boat, which pre­sented more chal­lenges and re­quired more knowl­edge than even Balt knew. We were re­ally for­tu­nate to have a great marine and stunt team, who would throw in­for­ma­tion our way when we needed it, and any ques­tions we had would be an­swered im­me­di­ately. We were re­ally sup­ported in that sense – I never felt in dan­ger, or out of con­trol.’’

The crew’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism also came in handy be­cause, as Claflin puts it, ‘‘we were slaves to Mother Na­ture for 90 per cent of this film’’.

‘‘We just had to be ready to go at any given mo­ment and also had to be very pa­tient at times, be­cause the weather could turn in a mo­ment.’’

Iron­i­cally, the only time the weather was truly aw­ful was af­ter they had left Fiji to shoot some of the more de­mand­ing ac­tion se­quences in­doors, at a stu­dio in Auck­land in Septem­ber last year.

‘‘We’d spent three months in beau­ti­ful Fiji, then we land in Auck­land just when win­ter ap­peared to hit. It was just cold and lots of rain. It kind of aided us in a way be­cause we were shoot­ing all the storm se­quences.’’

Not that the weather has put him off New Zealand. ‘‘My best friend in the world is from Auck­land, so I’m fa­mil­iar with the cul­ture, peo­ple and hu­mour. I love it, man, it’s a beau­ti­ful place.’’

Would he come back for work, or plea­sure?

‘‘One hun­dred per cent, be it with a film or not. I gen­uinely want to go and ex­pe­ri­ence it. I never got to go to the South Is­land, so there’s so much else I want to see and do. Hope­fully, the op­por­tu­nity comes where I can bring my fam­ily out and do it prop­erly.’’ ● Adrift (M) opens in New Zealand cine­mas on Thurs­day.

Claflin mar­ried Laura Had­dock in 2013.

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