'Gerard Butler Almost Died Surfing' - Gerard was in the water filming at the big wave surf sport called Mavericks in Half Moon Bay California for the Hollywood movie 'Chasing Mavericks'. The story is based around former pro surfer Jay Moriarity from Santa Cruz California. Jay was born in 1978 in Santa Cruz who made the famous cover shot of Surfer magazine at 16 years old with his wipeout. Jay later died a day before his 23rd birthday in 2001 in a free diving accident while on location in the Maldives for his wetsuit sponsor O'Neill. *A biopic of Jay's life was created in 2012.

The image below taken by surf photographer Bob Barbour is the real cover shot of Jay attempting to drop in on a 30ft monster of a wave (Chris Brown in the foreground). Hollywood hired multiple surfers to surf Mavericks in hopes to recreate this wave which is not easy. For a surfer to get their surfboard in this position is not done on purpose. On this wave the wind is howling from the north which makes the wind 'offshore' and as Jay is attempting to drop in moments after getting to his feet the strong wind got underneath his board and is forcing the board into a more vertical position. Normally surfers love offshore wind, but when these men and women are surfing giant waves it makes the difficulty level much greater.

Howard Stern: The movie Mavericks, that was the surf movie

Gerard Butler: Yeah, yeah.

HS: Did you almost drown on that movie or something I read

GB: I did yeah

HS: You actually had to surf for the movie

GB: I had to surf and and it was mine dream to actually go and surf that wave even though the movie is all about just the people have no idea how dangerous and how much training and what mental it takes to go surf 

HS: Have you ever surfed before that

GB: I just learned I wasn't even that good, but I knew what I learned I actually learned to surf big waves before small ones cause if I could be towed in learn to tow in because its hard to on a board your lying on a board they pull you and then you go to stand up you got to get on the board while your going and then they got to do it in perfect time so that you catch the wave as it builds

HS: In other words they give you an assist cause this is a high difficulty thing 

GB: Yeah, their hard to paddle into I thought if they can just get a few seconds of me on that big wave. I said if I can just go out there and surf Mavericks so at first they were like listen "if you get caught in Mavericks theirs nothing we can do". We can't go in cause the waves are to big we got to wait for them to past that might be twelve waves thats three to four minutes you're done.

HS: So if you didn't know how to surf at all could they just faked it and used a body double (which they did - Dan Malloy was the stand in surfer for Gerard and Hollywood put Gerard face onto Dan's body) and then be done with it or did you in order to get the part you needed to know how to surf

GB: No, I mean they offered it to me and said the movie is not going to happen if you don't do it so they said you do whatever you want if you can surf a bit if you can surf a lot if you can't even surf we'll work something out so but you know the thing is its just the difference it's the suttle difference you want to do it and if you see the guy doing it. It's the same in a fight sequence if you know its him you have to do quick cuts if its a body double and it's just not the same. So I wanted to do it, but that's not when the accident happened it was the next week and we were doing a part where we were paddeling out and its the first time the kid you know is Jay and played by Jonny (Weston) he's watching me paddleing out and its the first time he's seen Mavericks and it's awesome. So we're paddleing out its the first time he sees Mavericks and these huge waves are coming out and to get over the top we we're in the worst postion theres this wave we saw a 1/2 a mile away and suddenly even as Im talkinbg about it you get those butterflies your stomach the guy goes "paddle Gerard paddle, paddle" and you start paddeling and your paddeling and your paddeling about 70 yards to try and get out of the way of this wave and its getting bigger and its getting bigger it's the size of a three story building

HS: I'd sh_t my f_cking pants

GB: Right and then you realize you've taken a gamble because now your excausted and the waves goeing to hit you your going down and I went down and I just didn't seem to come back up and im like why

HS: Im going to die

GB: ...because it's at the end of the wave cause we were so deep theirs so much gas in the water that literally it's the whitewater is about like five foot deep you can't you're not coming up

HS: It pushes you down

GB: You just don't rise above it plus I'm spinning spinning spinnning then I realize it ripped my board off me so im not being pulled up Im out of breathe Im litteraly "gagging noice" i'm going this is horrible and then the next wave comes so I didn't even get to the top then I knew

HS: Did you think your going to die

GB: Then I started thinking either I was going to die or they would hopefully find me and revive me after I came in from the water he filmed me even though I almost drowned "gagging noice" and my head was thought my head was going to blow up

HS: Did they use that in the film

GB: No, they didnt use it in the film i'm suppose to be a good surfer

HS: What a waste

GB: Grant (Washburn) was on a jet ski and to see him, this guy's six foot five he's invinceable to see him looking at me he was terrified and I knew I'm in trouble and he couldn't get to me and I went down again I came back up and there was nobody their and I went down again and the when I came back up and they grabbed me but when he was pulling me the next wave was coming I'm right at the rocks and when these waves hit these rocks they go 50 ft in the air they smash so they had to get me out of the way but the water is now going over my face cause he's holding my hand and pulling me and I knew if I let go I'm dead

HS: Oh man

GB: But I can't breathe still cause the water is going over my head so that was about a good 200 yards pulling me around on the sled

HS: Imagine dieing for that movie you know that would be crazy like die for a movie

GB: That's what I started thinking is it went from ok this has become a story you know amongst us thinking oh my god this has now become a disaster like there going to 

HS: Your right and there are dudes that die on movies... you know these action movies films their asking you to do more and more crazy stuff you don't know what the hell is going to happen.

GB: You don't know

*We wanted to also mention the likes of Sonny Miller, Peter Mel, Greg Long, Zach Wormhoudt, Ryan Augenstein, Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Ion Banner, Holly Beck, Jeff Clark, Shawn Dollar, Colin Dwyer, Tyler Fox, Mark Healey, Noah Johnson, Flea, Larry Haynes, Mike Prickett, Shane Dorian, Carlos Burle and Matt Warshaw.

December 20, 2022 — Jack English