The central thread of Warner Bros.’ new, family adventure “Dolphin Tale” is the link between the dolphin Winter and Sawyer, the boy who saves her life. So before he won the role of Sawyer, young actor Nathan Gamble had to win over Winter.
Gamble recalls, “It was funny because I went through four or five auditions with [director] Charles Martin Smith and the producers, but they still had to make sure Winter was okay with me. I flew down to Florida and it was one of the best experiences of my life; we clicked right away. When they said I had the part, I was thrilled because I knew I would get to spend the next few months with Winter and the other animals, which was really cool.”
Gamble was only 12 years old when he was cast as Sawyer, but, Smith comments, “I’ve seldom seen actors of any age who can do what Nathan can do. The entire movie revolves around Sawyer’s relationship with Winter, so he had a big burden for someone so young. But he is a consummate performer with a confidence and skill some actors work their entire lives to achieve.”
At the start of the movie, Sawyer is anything but confident. “He is really shy and doesn’t have any friends, and he seems to fail at everything,” Gamble relates. “His dad left when he was younger and now his cousin Kyle, who is like a big brother to him, is leaving, too, so Sawyer feels lost. But then he meets Winter, and it totally changes him.”
Sawyer first encounters Winter after the dolphin has somehow become entwined in the ropes of a crab trap. Unable to swim, she ends up beached and is barely alive. Mustering his courage, Sawyer approaches the stranded animal and cuts the ropes binding her. In that instant, a different bond is forged.
Sawyer’s tie with Winter helps to fill the void left when his cousin Kyle, who is his hero, is deployed overseas after enlisting in the Army. Kyle, a champion swimmer, had dreamed of competing in the Olympics someday. But that dream ended in an explosion that spared his life but destroyed any hopes he had of returning to competitive swimming.
Cast as Kyle, Austin Stowell describes his character as “an outgoing, likeable guy, who was a role model for Sawyer. But then Kyle goes through this tremendous, life-changing event where he is injured and loses the strength of his leg. He’s thinking, ‘What now?’ He comes back very cold and cut off, even from his family, but Sawyer pushes him. He wants to reignite that spark in Kyle.”
Gamble affirms, “That’s when the characters switch places—Kyle was always motivating Sawyer and now Sawyer is the one trying to motivate Kyle, especially by introducing him to Winter.”
Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 5 in 3D and regular theaters, “Dolphin Tale” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.