“ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”The Aussie actress Teresa Palmer overcame her fear of water when filming Point Break by concentrating hard—on becoming a mermaid
Born in Adelaide, Australia, Teresa Palmer always knew she was destined for Los Angeles living. The 29-year-old mum of one has worked hard to establish herself as a Hollywood actress, but never more so than in upcoming film Point Break, an action-packed remake of the Keanu Reeves classic in which she stars with Édgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey and Ray Winstone. Meditation, mindfulness, motherhood and mermaids all helped her go deeper than she ever thought possible.
THE RED BULLETIN: Your son has the same name as one of the main characters in Point Break. Is that a coincidence?
TERESA PALMER: Yes, as my son was born before we started shooting the film. But both were named for the same reason; in Buddhism, Bodhi means ‘enlightenment’.
So one of the main stars in an action-packed blockbuster is linked to Buddhist enlightenment?
In Point Break, Bodhi follows the beat of his own drum. He knows it’s important to love yourself and follow your own path. It’s a philosophy that my husband and I and our close friends follow.
Was it difficult to find that path? After your parents’ divorce, you lived with your manic-depressive mother in social housing, which can’t have been easy…
I certainly didn’t have a traditional upbringing, but that helped me find my grounding. Having to rely on myself equipped me to navigate through life’s peaks and valleys. But in the past, I also made a lot of decisions out of a sense of fear. Instead of having faith in myself, I looked for comfort in external places.
What do you mean by external places?
Relationships, mainly. I found comfort in other people, not in myself. I found it in my career and the attention I was getting from being an actor. All these fleeting and unstable things. But when I started cultivating self-love, I recognised that this was the only way to move through life in a healthy and conscious way. That was thanks to my husband. He taught me to break out of the old patterns.
What do you have to do to adopt that mindset?
I read books, I meditate and I surround myself with people who live consciously and think in a similar way to me. I also practise mindfulness.
How does practising mindfulness help you?
I had a pretty transformative experience when I was shooting Point Break. I had to act 6m below the surface of the water for three hours, with weights strapped to my legs, despite the fact I’ve never been comfortable in the sea. They’d only remove the weights while filming. And we didn’t have any oxygen tanks in the scene.
Wait… You were underwater without oxygen?
When you were running out of breath, you gave a sign and someone dived down with an air cylinder. It was really scary. Because you knew that when you panicked, you couldn’t go straight up to the surface. Otherwise your lungs would explode. It was quite a mental challenge for me.
How did you cope with your fear of water in such a stressful situation?
First, I meditated. I learned to understand that my fear was to do with experiences in my childhood and how to let go of that fear. It also helped that I was trained by a freediving champion. She was like a mermaid underwater, so calm and peaceful. I focused on wanting to transform into her. And I thought of giving birth to my son, which happened just before we started shooting the movie, and which was a really empowering experience.
So you work with the power of your imagination?
Yes. I’ve believed in the power of my intuition since I was a teenager. When I was 15, I wrote in my journal: I’m going to star in films, I’m going to be represented by the William Morris Agency, have babies and a husband and live in LA. And that’s how it happened. There’s such magic in the world. Anything is possible. My grandmother taught me that, and it’s something I’ll pass on to my children.