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EXCLUSIVE Dolphin Tale 2 Interview: Nathan and Austin

August 08, 2014

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By: Lynn Barker

In Dolphin Tale 2, big changes are in the wind and both dolphins and humans must learn to adjust. Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) who has grown so close to injured dolphin Winter (she of the cool prosthetic tail), is worried when Winter needs a new poolmate or she might be moved to another aquarium. He wants to protect her. He has also been offered the on sea study semester of a lifetime. How can he choose?

Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) converses with WinterSawyer (Nathan Gamble) converses with WinterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Sawyer’s cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) lost a leg in combat. In Dolphin Tale, he was bitter but adjusting. In Dolphin Tale 2, Kyle has mastered his handicap and is working with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to rescue and release more needy sea creatures.

Kidzworld talked with the two actors, who are much like big bro/little bro in real life. How did the story for the second movie come about? Did Winter remember Nathan from “acting” with him in their first movie? Check out these answers and more. Nathan is with us first. Austin joins us later.

Kidzworld: Did dolphin Winter remember you from the first movie?

  • Nathan: You would like to say “yes, she does remember me” but you really can’t tell. I’d like to think that she does. On the second movie, me and Winter’s trainer Abby (Stone) were just hanging around with Winter, petting her, chilling out, right? I did this thing where I tilted my head a little to the right and she bubbled at the surface and sank to the bottom. That’s weird. Abby remembered that (the head nod) was a command we gave her on the first movie! Winter remembered.

Nathan Gamble at our interviewNathan Gamble at our interviewCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: Very cool! Were you always an animal lover and has appearing in these movies made you appreciate animals even more?

  • Nathan: Oh yes and it strengthened it. There are a lot of people out there who don’t think animals have souls which is wild to me. If you see what Winter does for so many kids, so many people, how she inspires them, it’s hard to believe that. You have to respect dolphins like humans because their brains are as complex as ours.
  • I do like animals. We have sort of a farm at our house in Seattle. We’ve got two dogs, 12 chickens, one turkey, three ducks and a cat.

Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) talks to aquarium trainersSawyer (Nathan Gamble) talks to aquarium trainersCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: What was your most challenging scene in this film?

  • Nathan: Probably with Morgan Freeman. I needed to focus. You’re like “Holy smoke, I’m working with a legend right now!” He’s truly one of the greatest actors to ever be in film. I was so honored to be one of the people he’s worked with. Between takes, me and him would chat and the wardrobe lady took a picture of us talking. She framed it and gave it to me at the wrap party. I have that picture next to my bed. It’s a friendly reminder that I got to work with one of the greatest.

Morgan Freeman returns as Dr. McCarthyMorgan Freeman returns as Dr. McCarthyCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: Have you met a lot of the people Winter has helped and inspired?

  • Nathan: Oh yeah. There is this kid named Cody who has two prosthetic legs. In the first movie when they show the real footage, he’s the kid walking up to the pool. He’s a lot bigger now. When I made the first one, I didn’t have any idea of the impact Winter had on people. I really realized it after the first movie. David Yates (who runs the Coldwater Marine Aquarium) got over 10,000 e-mails the first week it came out from families telling him how inspired they were.
  • On this one, we got to see a lot of kids from the Make a Wish Foundation. Their last wish was to see Winter. It was rough really but so great for us as a cast and crew to know why we’re doing this movie. It pumped me up to make this movie one of the best.

Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) plays with WinterSawyer (Nathan Gamble) plays with WinterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: At one point in the film, Morgan Freeman’s character tells Sawyer that sometimes you have to shake things up to get life going or you get stuck in a rut. Has that happened to you?

  • Nathan: Oh yeah. I think a lot of kids in general, you want things to stay the same then you realize that change is good and not a bad thing. That’s sort of the moral of Dolphin Tale 2. When you grow up, especially for Sawyer and Hazel, things are going to change and you have to learn to accept it. I think all kids go through that at some point in their lives; with family members, friends and they have to start thinking about work.

Kidzworld: Have you ever been in a situation like Sawyer is in the film? He is offered one great choice but also wants to make another, maybe more moral choice?

  • Nathan: Yes. There are some projects (I’m offered) that I think are going to be really, really good but there is some content in it that I don’t feel comfortable or right doing. Then I’m going to have to make that choice.

Sawyer's mom (Ashley Judd) picks him up at schoolSawyer's mom (Ashley Judd) picks him up at schoolCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Austin Stowell enters and joins us.

Kidzworld: Hi Austin, same question. Have you ever felt like you had to shake your life up to get things moving?

  • Austin: Absolutely. I used to work out on an island called Martha’s Vineyard. I ran a pizza oven, I caddied, I worked on a fishing boat and life is very easy out there. It’s a vacation lifestyle all the time. You can wear your hair long and have bronze skin but it wasn’t my passion. Eventually, life got pretty mundane for me and it was actually the guy who is my agent who kept badgering me. Every e-mail he’d say “When are you moving to L.A.?”  It was big risk. I didn’t know anyone out there. Just like the movie, it was time to shake things up. If life is too easy, it’s not worth doing.

Nathan Gamble and Austin Stowell at our interviewNathan Gamble and Austin Stowell at our interviewCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: You were out on the boat when dolphin Mandy is released, right? So, having worked on boats, that was very familiar to you?

  • Austin: Yeah. I didn’t want to come in. Very familiar. They kept saying “Do you want to come in?” I was out there for hours. I said “No. I’m happy as a clam out here”.

Kidzworld: Your character Kyle seems to be adjusting to his war injury very well now. Did you and director Charlie (Martin Smith) talk about it?

  • Austin: Yeah. Obviously Kyle is in a different place in this movie and has really found himself in his life post-military and post injury. All the military people I’ve met, these men and women, I’ve gotten to work with since the movie, a lot of them are amputees. For them, the mission doesn’t stop.
  • People think of the military as being about guns and fighting wars but it’s really about service to country and community. That’s how Kyle sees himself at this point in his life. He’s trying to give back to his community through his younger cousin Sawyer who is doing all this wonderful work with the dolphins.

Kyle (Austin Stowell) out on the rescue/release boatKyle (Austin Stowell) out on the rescue/release boatCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: Talk about the amazing coincidence that you two were at the wrap party for the first film and the staff got a call that a baby dolphin needed rescuing. This was the inspiration for the second film.

  • Nathan: Yeah. It was sort of like the movie. All the trainers from the first movie were there celebrating with us then, slowly we saw them all talking and they migrated over to the aquarium. I, for some dumb reason, thought they were still shooting some extra scene. I had no idea. They told me the next morning.
  • Austin: I was told at the party that they were out rescuing a dolphin right now. We were in the middle of it all and I guess they didn’t say anything because they wanted us to enjoy our time there but I wish they had. That’s the true life movie going on there. The real life footage you see (over the end credits), they really did carry that little dolphin right into the aquarium. It’s not joke or a PR stunt that this inspired our second movie.
  • Nathan: The timing is so weird. And there is a new dolphin now at the aquarium that was found on the 4th of July. One of the photographers on Dolphin Tale 2, Bob Talbot, happened to be there at the time so he filmed it all with fireworks in the background at night.

Austin Stowell at the L.A. Premiere of Dolphin Tale 2Austin Stowell at the L.A. Premiere of Dolphin Tale 2Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: Wow, the work goes on.  Okay fun question. What could a girl do on a date that would just make you not want to go out with her again?

  • Nathan: Well, I’ve never been on an actual date but it would probably be if they didn’t laugh at what I was saying. You need to fake it.  I don’t like boring people. They need to have a sense of humor.
  • Austin: I would say I don’t like people who are really into themselves or are very materialistic. Just always talking themselves up. Not being real is the pet peeve. Be true to yourself.

Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) trainer (Austin Highsmith) worry about WinterSawyer (Nathan Gamble) trainer (Austin Highsmith) worry about WinterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Kidzworld: What do you think tweens and teens are especially going to get out of seeing Dolphin Tale 2?

  • Nathan: Before I did these movies, when I’d see an amputee, I’d be like “Whoa”. I would think of them differently but they are human. I want people to see this movie and the first one with Kyle’s injury and realize that everyone’s human with different personalities but amputees are a lot braver.
  • Austin: I think this movie is a lot more about release and letting go and letting life take its course. Teenage years, having gone through it all, I know it’s a rough, rough time and I would say to accept that message of letting go, letting it happen and accepting that things don’t always happen for a reason or you may not understand the reason but it’s all part of the journey and try to enjoy the ride.

Dolphin Tale 2 PosterDolphin Tale 2 PosterCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Dolphin Tale 2 is in theaters September 12th!