Oscar-nominated actress Shailene Woodley plays Tami Oldham in the true-to-life story
AP photo
What made Shailene fall in love with Adrift
Raymond de Asis Lo (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  “This movie is so important to me because I just find Tami so damn inspiring!”

Oscar-nominated actress Shailene Woodley told this writer during our short chat before the premiere in Los Angeles of Adrift, the acclaimed adaptation of Red Sky in Mourning: The True Story of a Woman’s Courage and Survival at Sea, the bestselling memoirs of Tami Oldham Ashcraft.

Adrift tells the inspiring true story of Tami, who in 1983, together with her boyfriend Richard Sharp, set out to journey across the ocean from Tahiti to San Diego to deliver a yacht. They didn’t anticipate they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope for rescue, Tami must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.

Tami’s unforgettable story of resilience and will to survive against all odds are what inspired Shailene to produce and star in the film.

“I am in love with the ocean and always have been. I am a sucker for love and I love the love that Tami and Richard shared and I had the honor of playing a woman who, despite all adversity that she’s experienced in her life, she was this joy and optimism and seeks out the laughter and the humor despite the fear and vulnerabilities she experiences and I find that just astounding.”

 The actress paid tribute to Tami by calling her a “light” and praised her “authenticity.”

“This woman has been through arguably some of the harshest, most difficult experiences one could conjure in her lifetime and yet she can’t go on a sentence without smiling,” she said. “She finds the optimism in everything and is light and effervescent about her disposition and yet also isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, isn’t afraid to speak the truth that sometimes is hard to talk about and I find that really refreshing.”

Tami’s smile was infectious. Indeed.

Tami graced the red carpet premiere of the movie together with her daughter. She glowed under the spotlight and humbly threw smiles at all the journalists wishing her success of the movie and celebrating her remarkable story.

“To do the movie has been absolutely a dream-come-true for me,” Tami said. “I wanted to see the story up on the big screen and also show the world what happened.”

Shailene Woodley (with Sam Claflin in the film): I am in love with the ocean and always have been. I am a sucker for love and I love the love that Tami and Richard shared and I had the honor of playing a woman who, despite all adversity that she’s experienced in her life, she was this joy and optimism and seeks out the laughter and the humor despite the fear and vulnerabilities she experiences and I find that just astounding.

In trying to bring her story to a wider audience, Tami was able to make a new friend in Shailene.

“Shailene was just amazing! That girl! She just works so hard and she was just perfect and you just couldn’t have picked a better actress to portray what happened in the situation,” she said.

The movie, which celebrates a woman’s true and remarkable story of courage and survival, is coming out in a most opportune time. We are in the middle of #MeToo era in Hollywood and women are finally getting their stories told.

“Women are strong. This is just another example of the strength that us women have. Everybody has a story, everybody has bad times and I am hoping that people will walk away from this movie with inspiration that even though you get put into this bad situation, there’s survival strength and I think that resonates throughout the movie.”

For the curious, despite her near-death experience, Tami still continues to sail to this day.

British actor Sam Claflin, who plays the part of Richard, Tami’s boyfriend at the time, echoed what both Tami and Shailene said about the story and its importance today.

“It’s an incredibly inspirational story, filled with hope, filled with love and filled with adventure!” he said. “I hope people, despite the fact that there’s a shipwreck, I hope it doesn’t dissuade people from taking risks and living life to the fullest.”

Sam confessed to being a fan of the sea now after doing the movie, knowing Tami and filming on location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

“The experience really made me appreciate the water. I fell in love with the water, I fell in love with Mother Nature and, if anything, Mother Nature helped her survive, so that’s one way of looking at it,” he said.

Interestingly, this is the first time that Sam is starring opposite Shailene. Both Sam and Shailene had their career breakthroughs starring in young adult franchises that were the rage in Hollywood until a couple of years ago. Sam starred in the Hunger Games series while Shailene was the lead in the Divergent series.

“She’s an incredible woman and I am very blessed to work with her at this stage in her career,” Sam replied when I asked him how it was working with Shailene. “I think she’s got more to come and I feel very, very lucky and grateful that she was my shipmate on this.”

Adrift is now showing nationwide.

ADRIFT SAM CLAFLIN SHAILENE WOODLEY
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