Three decades ago, a group of disaffected, overlooked nobodies rebelled against society by putting some wood and wheels beneath their feet, and the pursuit of the ultimate adrenaline rush above all else. They taught the world how to stand out, how to define a culture and, most of all, how to have some fun. When Hollywood decided to tell their story in the movie "Lords of Dogtown" — which opens Friday — the world-famous Z-Boys got to teach a few more lessons, with both their skateboards and their keyboards.
It began, as it did 30 years ago, with Stacy Peralta, a Southern California beach bum with sandy blonde hair and a smile that makes any stranger feel like his best friend. Years after he and fellow Zephyr Team members Tony Alva and Jay Adams had redefined skateboarding, Peralta found himself caught up in the Hollywood scene and overseeing a critically acclaimed documentary about the group, entitled "Dogtown and Z-Boys."
"We had something going for us that was really amazing," Peralta said. "The [chairman of the motion picture group] of Sony [Pictures], Amy Pascal, grew up among these skateboarders. She knew this life; she knew this situation. It was very close to her, and she wanted to see to it that this film got made, and that it stayed true to the story" (see "Ledger, Farrell, Tony Hawk On Board For 'Dogtown' Premiere").
With the documentary behind them, Sony put Peralta to work on his first dramatic screenplay, retelling the Dogtown story, but with actors now recreating that magical time when the swimming pools were empty and every move gave birth to five more. Once Peralta had banged out his script, it was time for his old friend to bang up the actors.
"I took them first," smiled Tony Alva, the legendary skater who oversaw the training of the young actors portraying the Z-Boys in the movie. "[They] would just be throwing up dry heaves and couldn't hang at first. I was like, 'Dude, I'm 47 years old, you're how old?' I was like, 'You better be able to hang, 'cause this is just the beginning.' "
The toughest lessons may have come to Victor Rasuk, who portrays Alva in the film. "It was insane," admitted the young actor, "because I'm this kid from the East Coast, and I came all the way out here. I thought surfing and skating was all about 'Dude!' and 'Surf's up!' — but I got my ass kicked."
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The Z-Boys knew that Rasuk and co-stars Emile Hirsch (as Adams) and John Robinson (Peralta) could bring some dramatic chops to the movie. What they were about to find out, however, was that these kids were willing to put their bodies on the line.
"I got a really bad back," Hirsch remembered, grimacing. "I threw out my back in training, and I was like walking with a limp for a month and I thought I'd have to quit. Luckily, I didn't."
"I got myself a black eye the second week of rehearsing," said Hasuk, who had never even stepped on a skateboard before. "But the more injuries I endured, the more respect I got from Tony Alva."
When it came time for the actors to gather some much-needed personal research for their non-skating scenes, all the Z-Boys stepped forward and opened their homes — even the enigmatic Adams. "Jay is such a great guy — such a wild, free-spirited guy," Hirsch said. "I went to Hawaii for my 19th birthday and hung out with him there. He's such a trip. His two biggest pieces of advice for me were 'Don't have an ego' and 'Find a girl you love.' "
Ironically, it was the one telling the Z-Boys story who had the least to say. "Stacy was difficult, because he doesn't like talking about himself," Robinson said. "I had to continuously pick his brain and get him to tell me stories. He'd be like, 'Well, what do you want to know?' He wouldn't just tell story after story; I had to get into him to really understand him. But having him there on the set really helped me, especially when it came to the skating, because he was such an amazing skater; to have him there, showing me each move, was great."
"It was so cool," Rasuk smiled. "We were skating and surfing and getting paid for it, too."
"The endless teenage summer," Hirsch agreed.
For these three actors, and the groundbreaking rebels they portray, the summer will never end.
Relive everything big, bad, hairy and awesome from the last 365 days in film when the 2005 MTV Movie Awards air Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. The action kicks off a half an hour earlier with MTV News' pre-show when the red carpet action, celebrity interviews and surprises begin at 8 p.m.
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Relive everything big, bad, hairy and awesome from the last 365 days in film when the 2005 MTV Movie Awards air Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. The action kicks off a half an hour earlier with MTV News' pre-show when the red carpet action, celebrity interviews and surprises begin at 8 p.m. Check out the 2005 MTV Movie Awards site for more.