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Filming underway on biopic about surfer and shark-attack survivor Bethany Hamilton

February 8, 2010 |  2:57 pm


Carrie Underwood had a busy weekend. After singing the national anthem at Super Bowl LXIV, she hopped on a plane bound to Oahu, Hawaii.

The five-time Grammy award-winner is not there for a vacation, but to make her film-acting debut in a biopic about surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at age 13 survived an attack by a tiger shark that ripped off her left arm just below the shoulder.

Tentatively titled "Soul Surfer," the movie is based on Hamilton's autobiography of the same name.

In 2003, Hamilton was surfing off Kauai with a friend when she was attacked. Had the shark bitten two inches further in, the incident would have proved fatal.

Despite the trauma of the attack, Hamilton was determined to return to surfing, and just three weeks later was back on her board and in the ocean.

Hamilton Underwood will play the part of Sarah Hill, friend and church counselor to Hamilton, whose support played a huge role in the surfer's comeback.

Hamilton, now 19, will be involved in the filming as well. Though AnnaSophia Robb will portray her in the film, Hamilton will be doing stunts as well as most of the surfing scenes.

"They wanted a one-armed person doing it and that's not easy to find," Hamilton told the Herald Sun in January, when she was in Sydney, Australia, competing in the Billabong World Junior Championships.

Hamilton's best friend, Alana Blanchard, who was with her when the accident happened, will be played by Jack Nicholson's daughter, Lorraine. Sean Brosnan, son of Pierce, will play Hamilton's brother, Noah.

The film also stars Academy Award winner Helen Hunt and Golden Globe nominee Dennis Quaid as Hamilton's parents.

"I am excited about the role. But it will be intense seeing people playing my family and me," added Hamilton.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photos: Top: Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm in a shark attack in 2003, takes to the waves in a competition at Trestles in 2004. Bottom: Hamilton heads towards the waves. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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