Kate Bosworth talks horses, acting with 12-year-old Scarlett Johansson, and the importance of perseverance

The actress sits down to talk with ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis.

December 18, 2018, 1:37 PM

Kate Bosworth is many things. Actress, style icon, activist and now producer. The desire to perform and create was apparent in Bosworth’s adolescent life when she performed “bizarre” puppet shows for friends and family, but her sights weren’t always set on Hollywood. Because of the fierce drive instilled by her parents and her determination to succeed, Bosworth has gone on to transcend film genres and avoid typecasting.

“You have to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day no matter what it is that you're doing and say, ‘you know what, I left it all on the field today,’” Bosworth told ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

Bosworth stumbled upon her first acting gig. She was 14 at the time, living in Connecticut, attending a public middle school and enjoying the normalcy of her teenage life. She had a passion for horses and horseback riding, which is how she was discovered for a role in The Horse Whisperer. Casting for the movie was being held outside New York City, and a call when out for teenage girls who loved horses. As word spread around the horse stables that Kate trained at, more and more riders decided to audition, making Kate’s chances slimmer and slimmer. “I was like maybe I'll get the golden ticket,” Bosworth said.

With no prior professional acting experience, Kate auditioned for her first major motion picture and after several callbacks, she landed the role.

“Robert Redford was the director, Scarlett Johansson was the star and she was 12-years-old. She had been acting, by the way, since she was like two, so she arrived on set and was like, ‘oh yeah, I’ve been doing this for ten years,’” which Bosworth admits intimidated her.

“I was totally freaked out because I was truly just like a normal kid who went to middle school and was just worried about if my boots were cool or not,” Bosworth said of her experience meeting Johansson.

Her love for acting only intensified after her first film, but she wasn’t ready to give up her studies for a career just yet, so she decided to only accept roles that let her still go to school.

Four years later, Bosworth decided to defer her acceptance to Princeton University and instead move to Los Angeles, where she quickly auditioned for a surfing film called “Blue Crush.”

“I connected with it so deeply, because you know I'd never touched a surfboard before admittedly, I knew what it felt like to like want something so badly and to have a sense of fearlessness and to also feel a little bit out there and adrift,” Bosworth said.

After multiple readings and an undeniable connection to the character, the producers broke the news that though they liked Kate, but a prerequisite for the role was being able to surf. While the casting team decided to take a couple of weeks to pursue other options, Kate cracked open the Yellow Pages and found a surf instructor in Malibu willing to help her out.

“I said ‘I really, really need to learn how to do this. I need to change my body, I need to be adequate at this at the very least,’ and he said, ‘OK, well it’s going to take every single day, you know six to seven hours a day, it's a mentality thing as well. It’s mental and physical and you really need to get into both,” Bosworth said.

After three weeks, Kate showed off her new surf skills to the producers, but if you’re looking for a fist-in-the-air success story, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

“I remember just paddling out, and I was like you got this, and I just ate it,” Bosworth describes of the experience. “I was out there falling and falling, falling and falling.”

While her surfing skills weren’t up to par, Bosworth still landed the leading role of Anne Marie Chadwick.

“I was later told that everyone looked at the surf instructor that was not mine, that was hired by them, and they said, well what do you think? Like can she do it? And he looked at them and he said, ‘What I can absolutely guarantee you is that you're not going to meet someone more determined.’”

Bosworth’s role in “Blue Crush” helped establish her in the film industry, giving her a chance to find roles she identified with and helping further develop her acting.

“I started to produce things that I wasn't a producer on just by nature,” Bosworth explains. “I started to feel comfortable enough to have more of a voice in certain areas, and to feel like my opinion on things outside of just my role had some validity, or I could share it and sort of see what people thought.”

With encouragement from her husband, director Michael Polish, to take a leap, the couple co-produced the new film Nona, which follows a young woman from Honduras who is sold into sex trafficking in America.

Kate has since become an advocate for CAST, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, and works closely with the organization to take steps in combatting this worldwide issue.

“I think the hardest thing is that it's difficult to find like a real solution for this. I think that's the greatest challenge, that there might not be an answer right now, but there's incredible people fighting the fight,” said Bosworth.

The determination that Kate has to create something that resonates with her is the driving force behind everything she does.

“I always say perseverance is going to edge you out,” Bosworth said. “If you can hang on and you can be the one who's just saying, ‘no I'm going to last,’ that'll be the edge for sure.”

Hear more from Kate Bosworth on episode #115 of the “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.

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