Below I have posted a very fascinating story from Cozi and also and interview from the same site:
The following story is true. A 13-year-old Mission Viejo girl swears to it.
According to Cozi Zuehlsdorff, just after returning from Florida, where she completed filming the movie “Dolphin Tale” about a real-life dolphin that lost its tail in an accident and would have died if not for the work of a marine biologist and a prosthetics doctor, her family was watching some old home movies.
On one tape, a very young Cozi and her older sister were playing together in a bathtub. Her sister grabbed a toy on the side of the tub and said, “Let’s play with the dolphin.”
Her sister held up the toy dolphin, and that’s when Cozi’s father hit the pause button. The entire family stared speechless at the screen. The toy dolphin’s tail had broken off.
“It was freaky,” Cozi said.
“I think it was prophetic,” her father Scott added.
In “Dolphin Tale,” which opens this weekend, Cozi plays the daughter of the aquarium’s owner (Harry Connick, Jr.). She befriends a local boy and the two youngsters care for the injured dolphin. The real dolphin, named Winter, remains a major tourist attraction in Florida.
Q. When was the first time you said to yourself, “Hey, I want to be an actress?”
A. For sure, it started when I was 7 in musical theater. I didn’t even know I wanted to do it but my mom encouraged me to audition for “Annie.”
Q. You had done nothing before that?
A. Oh, small roles in school plays, like Bumble Bee Number One.
Q. I’ll bet you were an excellent Bumble Bee Number One.
A. Thank you. But “Annie” really excited me. It was a tiny stage, the size of that rug, but to be on stage and have people looking at you was really cool.
Q. Was there a single moment when you were on stage that made you realize how much you wanted to do this?
A. Not a single moment, but I got a rush every last performance of every show I’ve done. There’s something about being the last time you can connect with the audience that I love.
Q. How did you transition from local theater to a big Hollywood movie?
A. My mom got me in some acting classes, and I guess I captured one of the teacher’s attention. He went to my mom and said he’d liked to manage me if I wanted to go out for commercials, TV and film.
Q. Were you excited?
A. Not really. My sister used to go up to L.A. for auditions and I remember sweating in the car because we didn’t have air-conditioning. Well, we do have a better car now, and we do have air-conditioning so I assumed it would be better this time. Still, I didn’t want to do it at first, but then I said I’d do it. Then I got an agent, and started getting some commercials.
Q. How often were you going up to L.A.?
A. Well, it started off slow. I did three commercials the first year. There were a lot of auditions, although most of the time it has nothing to do with your acting. It’s a matter of looking like the right daughter for the parents in the commercial. If they’re looking for a girl with dark hair, I’m out before I start. From that, I realized that just doing commercials wouldn’t satisfy me. I wanted to do something more long-term.
Q. Excuse me for interrupting, but which commercials did you do?
A. I did two insurance companies and a bank. Then I did a Nestle’s commercial, and a Hallmark voiceover for a Father’s Day commercial. And I just shot a Trident commercial that hasn’t come out yet.
Q. So, how did you get the dolphin movie?
A. I went out on five TV and movie auditions, and then I got the script for “Dolphin Tale.” It said they were looking for an 11-year-old Caucasian girl with freckles, blond hair and a big personality. Well, hello.
Q. How did the audition go?
A. I felt so good about it that I took a picture of myself when I left the audition so that if I got the part, I’d have a picture of the moment. Two or three weeks later, I got a callback to meet with the director, Charles Martin Smith.
Q. Were you familiar with his acting career?
A. After I met him, I got to see “Never Cry Wolf” and some other movies. He’s amazing. He was even on “The Brady Bunch” when he was 16.
Q. What happened next?
A. I waited forever. Then we called my agent, and she said she thought they went with someone else. The next day, she called and said I was in the final three. I went up to L.A. for another audition. I met with the three boys who were up for the role of Sawyer, and when I met Nathan (Gamble), I knew he would get the part. And we worked well together in the audition. We had the same rhythms.
Q. No animals were involved in the audition?
A. No. But they did ask if I ever swam with dolphins before. I told them I got to touch a dolphin’s chin at Sea World.
Q. After you got the part, how much time did you have before you left, and what did you do to prepare for the role?
A. We had about 14 days, and I took some swimming lessons. I wanted to make sure I could tread water because the script kept saying that my character was in the water all the time. It turns out that I only had to sit in the tank holding the dolphin, but somebody said I swam like a fish and I was so excited.
Q. Describe what’s like to swim with a dolphin.
A. The first time wasn’t with Winter. It was with an older dolphin named Panama, and it was magical. Dolphins are so big and grand. The water was about 86 degrees, and I put on goggles and watched her swim underwater. It was really amazing. Winter was a little smaller, but she was so personable.
Q. What else did you do when you got there?
A. A lot of chopping fish. They wanted me to get used to being around an aquarium. I knew all about chopping fish.
Q. What was your life like in Florida?
A. We did all our shooting at the aquarium, and when we weren’t shooting, I’d literally walk through a door and attend school. I had to go to class for 3 ½ hours a day, and I worked nine hours a day.
Q. How long were you there?
A. Three months, and I loved every day of it.
Q. Was it your first trip to Florida?
A. It was. I remember getting off the plane, and my first thought was I couldn’t believe all the car exhaust. Somebody told me it wasn’t car exhaust; it was humidity. It’s really humid in Florida.
Q. Was it ever dangerous during the filming?
A. Not really, although it was a little scary jumping into the lagoon at the end of the movie. Usually we were in the dolphin tank and the water was warm. But the lagoon’s water was about 60 degrees, and I was a little worried. But I kept telling myself, “Cozi, there are lifeguards all around and you’re not going to die. Just play the part and keep swimming. “