QUESTION: Your hair is dark in the movie but it appears lighter in real life.
NATHAN GAMBLE: It was crazy because everybody started getting used to my dark hair. When I changed it at the end, everyone was like, ‘It’s not the real Nathan.’ I was like, ‘No, it is the real Nathan.’ I’m blonde. They had to dye my hair every week for three months.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: And your eyebrows. They put mascara on his eyebrows.
QUESTION: Was that so you would look more like…?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Ashley, yeah.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: And so we wouldn’t look like siblings.
NATHAN GAMBLE: They did something to your hair too, right?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: They made it lighter. I got dyed four times. My hair was really like Florida, kind of Platinum blonde in the movie. So, my hair’s darker. It’s still trying to get back to its normal color. My hair’s like honey blonde.
QUESTION: Nathan, since you were the police commissioner’s son in the Batman movie, had you ever met Morgan Freeman before you made this movie?
NATHAN GAMBLE: No, I’d never actually met him. This is my second movie with him. I should have, right? But, no, I didn’t. Actually, I was doing a press junket for a Stephen King movie called The Mist and Heath Ledger was doing a movie too in the same building and we’d just done The Dark Knight and the same person who did my hair did his hair too. So, that was as close an encounter as I’ve ever got with anyone else.
QUESTION: Could you tell us how was the first meeting with Winter, each of you?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: It was funny because I was looking forward to meeting her the whole time, but she wasn’t quite ready for the first couple of days that I was there. So, I swam a lot with a dolphin named Panama. I love Panama. She’s like Winter’s great aunt. She’s almost 40 now, so she’s getting up there. But I love her so much. I swam with her and I was swimming with her when they kind of said, ‘It looks like after this you’re going to swim with Winter.’ And I went, ‘Woo-hoo,’ which you’re not supposed to do because the dolphins will freak out. Panama’s deaf though, so I that’s the best dolphin to scream with. So, I was like, ‘Thank the Lord, she’s deaf.’ But I was so excited to meet her and, definitely, it was wonderful.
NATHAN GAMBLE: I auditioned like three times before I actually met Winter. And I actually had to audition with Winter before I actually got the part.
QUESTION: To see if you guys had chemistry?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Yeah, we had to make sure that we connected. So, when I first saw her, I was really nervous because if I don’t I’m not going to get this. ‘Get this kid out of here.’
When I first met her, she was just so amazing. She’s so intelligent and she’s smart and she has her own sense of humor. I was like, ‘Wow, if I get this I’m going to be spending three months with this amazing creature,’ and that was fantastic to even think about that.
QUESTION: Did you already know how to swim?
NATHAN GAMBLE: You know, what? I didn’t tell them this, but I have asthma and I’m a terrible swimmer. But I did some physical training before they actually started shooting underwater and stuff for that.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I have asthma too, but I took a lot of swimming lessons before the movie. Like after the final call back I took a bunch of swimming lessons because they told us initially that on the final call back we would have to swim. So, I practiced so much that I could tread water for like 20 minutes, but we didn’t have to do it. I was glad when I came there, they were happy with my swimming, which I didn’t really have to do. I just crouched and held an animatronic dolphin for a lot of the scenes.
QUESTION: You didn’t have to swim for the movie at all?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I had to be able to crouch and hold a dolphin.
NATHAN GAMBLE: At the end.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: And my treading water saved my hide at the very end because the water’s 60 degrees. I have asthma. Literally, I felt like I couldn’t do it. I think just to tread water for three minutes took so much energy; it felt like you were weighted down because I was in my clothes and an insulated thing inside my clothes. It was like, ‘You’re just going to sink in this biggreen mass of water.’ So, I think treading for three minutes is like treading for 20 in a light pool in a little swimsuit.
QUESTION: How is it for both of you as actors to feel like you’re going to be upstaged by a dolphin?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Well, that’s the only kind of actor that I would want to be upstaged by because Winter’s just really amazing. And she deserves that stuff. The whole set revolved around Winter. If she was angry, we were angry. If she was happy, we were happy.
QUESTION: Was she ever unhappy?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Yeah, there were a few times when she got a little grumpy, just like everybody in the world.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: When dolphins get angry they swim in circles, but it’s like a big wiggly jagged circles. I forget what they call it.
NATHAN GAMBLE: And then with their blowholes they go [blowing sound].
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Like they get so mad, it’s kind of like a little kid going [angry sounds]. Everyone kind of gets out, ‘Okay, Winter’s not in the mood right now.’ But usually a fish will get her happy again. It’s all about the fish.
QUESTION: What were your shoot days like? Were they long?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Out of the three months that we shot, I only had one day off. Yeah.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I was a little luckier than that. Towards the end I had a couple days off. But they can only work us for nine and a half hours. So, that’s a relief.
NATHAN GAMBLE: That’s a long day.
QUESTION: But does nine and a half hours include like two or three hours of school?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Yeah, three hours of school and an hour of break.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
NATHAN GAMBLE: I think those are the rules.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Yeah, and after six hours they have to feed us lunch.
NATHAN GAMBLE: I don’t know if that’s a rule, but that’s my rule. They have to feed me.
QUESTION: What grade are you in?
NATHAN GAMBLE: I’m in eighth.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I’m going into eighth too.
QUESTION: You’re both going to be in eighth grade and can you tell us how old you are now?
NATHAN GAMBLE: I’m 13.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Thirteen.
QUESTION: How was it working with Harry Connick, Jr.?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Harry, what a guy. He’s fantastic to work with. He was such a blast.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: So much fun. The movie would not have been the same without him.
NATHAN GAMBLE: Yeah, definitely not. He made the set so fun and comfortable.
QUESTION: Was he singing?
NATHAN GAMBLE: You know, you would think he would.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Morgan Freeman sang. Harry didn’t sing and Morgan Freeman and I connected because I do so much musical theatre. So, he’d go down the hallway, ‘Shall we dance?’ And I’d go, ‘On a bright cloud of music. Shall we fly?’ But he’s always singing a jazz tune under his breath. You know, ‘Straighten up and fly right.’ He’s just always singing something. And I know a lot of old jazz songs so I would kind of freak him out every once in a while by knowing those kind of things.
QUESTION: How do you know old jazz tunes?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Well, my mom loves jazz and my dad loves jazz. And my mom and my dad were in a band together and they performed at the Ritz Carlton and a lot of places and weddings and things like that. And then she introduced me to Natalie Cole and things like that. So, I just got used to those kinds of songs. We love Latin music too. We got the soundtrack from Rio that just came out and that’s so much fun to sing too.
QUESTION: I hear you’re very good. Harry said you were very musical.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Oh, that’s very nice of him to say. I would love to work with Harry musically in the future. That would be so amazing because I play piano too. So, we got to do stuff like that. He would teach me a couple of chords and stuff like that. I play piano every day.
QUESTION: Is your dream then to be in a Broadway show, a musical?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: That is definitely one of my dreams. I love theatre. It’s like when I do a show I go, ‘I love this more than movies.’ When I do a movie, It’s like, ‘I love this more than…’ I can’t decide. I feel so at home with musical theatre.
QUESTION: And, for you Nathan, what’s your dream?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Well, I love acting. I think it’s fantastic and I have such a blast doing it. It’s a passion that I’ve always had, but when I get a little older I would absolutely love to write screenplays with my dad because he’s a really good writer and I thought that would be a really cool team-up, just to write stuff together.
QUESTION: Have you done anything yet together?
NATHAN GAMBLE: No, I have not.
QUESTION: How did you both get started in acting?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Well, I did a lot of musical theatre. When I was seven I was cast as Annie in Annie and then I did a lot of shows, and about a year later we found a little acting school.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: In Orange County, [California]. So, we did it there and one of my teachers surprised us by coming up to my mom and saying, ‘Your daughter’s really good and I’d like to manage her.’ And we were like, ‘What?’ Because my sister had auditioned before.
And I just remember hating it when I was four—being so sweaty. Our car had no air conditioning, our little Volvo. And it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is awful.’ So, I didn’t want to do it. And we said, ‘She’s not ready to do it.’
And then I thought about it and mulled it over and when I was about 10 I said, ‘I really want to do this.’ So, I shot some commercials and then I got an agent that was more TV and film-based. She sent me on five amazing auditions for Disney pilots and TV series and huge movies. And it was so much good practice. The sixth audition was Dolphin Tale and I got the part.
QUESTION: Cozi, since you’re so new to this, do you find that you’ve adjusted to being a working actor through the process of making this movie?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I think I’ve changed to where everything’s not quite as surprising and I can be calm. If I have something that I know is going to be really challenging, I have to pace myself because sometimes people say, ‘Oh, yeah, today you’re getting sprayed by raw squid.’ And you’re like, ‘What?’ And just to take a deep breath before I would kind of flip out. You just take a deep breath, you assess everything. I’ve noticed you find out everything that you have to do. You walk in. You do it. You go home. That’s what happens, so, just to see everything and be a little bit more rational and calm.
QUESTION: And Nathan how did you get started?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Well, my mom and my dad used to run a drama camp at my church and I think I got a little of my talents there, but I was in this little agency in Bellevue, a few miles from Seattle, [Washington]. There was this nationwide search for Brad Pitt’s son in Babel and I thought, ‘Oh, this is never going to happen. Why audition, because there were so many kids?’ I started getting close to the final audition, like, ‘Oh, this is kind of getting serious.’ And then I got it and the producers introduced me to my manager and agent and everything’s been kind of great since then.
QUESTION: What was it like working with the pelican?
NATHAN GAMBLE: That little dude’s the goofiest thing I’ve ever seen. There’s this one scene where I just said, ‘This guy is insane.’ It was where the bucket tipped over with all the fish and he sifts through the ice and the fish. He’s just so weird looking, but it’s really funny.
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: They took like two straight minutes of shooting just the pelican chewing because the cameraman was laughing so hard the camera was shaking and Charles was laughing so he didn’t get good audio and everyone was laughing so hard.
QUESTION: Were you comfortable being around animals prior to doing this movie, or does this experience make you more comfortable around them?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: Well, I feel comfortable around animals. I mean, we got there towards the end of the day, like in the late afternoon-evening, and the next morning they said, ‘All right, we’re going to have you meet one of our dolphins.’ Her name is Panama and, of course, I love Panama, but I didn’t know that. So, we had breakfast downstairs at the hotel and we left and I was so scared. What if the water’s so cold I can’t get in? What if all of this stuff? The water was 86 degrees. And Panama is just such a sweetheart. She was really neat to meet for the first time. No one’s really quiet around Panama because she’s deaf and you can just hop right in. But it would not be smart just to think that you can go in and pet a dolphin. That’s not allowed.
QUESTION: How about you, were you comfortable?
NATHAN GAMBLE: Well, I’d never actually seen a dolphin before Winter. I was so nervous. Not only did my audition depend on me having some kind of connection with Winter, I was meeting a dolphin for a first time. But then I got so used to her that it was a blast to work with her. I have kind of a farm at my house. I have sixteen chickens, a rabbit, a cat, and two dogs; we’re going to get peacocks; and a frog and a fish.
QUESTION: And what kind of fish?
NATHAN GAMBLE: A beta fish? I don’t know.
QUESTION: What is Charles Martin Smith like as a director?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: I love Charles. He was so amazing to work with because he’s an actor and a director. So, I think that’s one of the reasons he chose me is because I don’t have any credentials. I don’t have past movies that I’ve been in. I’m not hot off the charts or anything. So, for him to pick me was amazing.
And then, on Halloween, we were shooting and that’s his birthday. So, I decided for a birthday surprise, everyone kind of dressed up a little bit. You could dress up on whatever you wanted and I dressed up as Charles. And we have the most hysterical pictures.
I have glasses and a big baseball cap, the same shirt. We got the same shirt that he was wearing that day and shorts, headphones and I walked in and I went: Hello, Charles. And he laughed so hard. It was so fun.
QUESTION: Was it a t-shirt that you were wearing?
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF: He wore this shirt and on the back, it said, ‘Lights, camera, satisfaction,’ and I got the same shirt. We had the most amazing wardrobe gal and she found the same shirt. And it was just from a film festival in Saint Petersburg. She got it and she altered it and I wore it for the day.
NATHAN GAMBLE: Best costume ever.