Point Break Interview: Luke Bracey on Johnny Utah and Hacksaw Ridge

Johnny Utah hunts for Bodhi in Point Break
Johnny Utah hunts for Bodhi in Point Break

I’ve been so excited to see Luke Bracey in Point Break that even a year ago, when I was writing about The November Man, I accidentally typed Luke Break. I corrected it before I published but my subconscious was telling me something. So I was excited to finally get a chance to talk to Bracey about playing Johnny Utah in the new Point Break.

This Johnny Utah has to do more than surf and skydive. They’ve included every extreme sport of the last 24 years, and gotten the world’s best athletes to perform the stunts in the movie. Point Break opens Christmas Day.

Nerd Report: You might appreciate this. When I was writing about you for The November Man I accidentally wrote Luke Break. 

Luke Bracey: Maybe you helped me get this.

Nerd Report: You had already been cast so I was thinking Point Break and I wrote “Luke Break.”

Luke Bracey: Yeah, that’s great.

Nerd Report: Did you fight for this part?

Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break
Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break

Luke Bracey: I said to the producers and Ericson when I met them, when I was being considered for the role with a handful of other guys, I said, “Look, I’m your guy. I’m not here to waste your time or my time. I’m your guy. I grew up surfing. I grew up skateboarding. I watched this movie my whole life. I know what this is about.” I certainly went in with a certain amount of bravado and confidence, but that’s only because I really trusted in the fact that I love this movie so much and that I knew what this movie needed.

Nerd Report: Were you able to try any of the extreme sports, at least in a safe, contained environment? 

Luke Bracey: With all the sports, the thing is with this movie, these are the world’s best doing it because they’re all very, very dangerous sports in their own rite. The amount of respect that these world class athletes show to their sports is really eye-opening. Not eye-opening. I already knew it but it’s true. You can’t take these things lightly. I didn’t disrespect these sports or these things that people have trained their entire lives to do good at. I didn’t want to come in swatting in going, “I’m the young actor who can do it all.” No, no, no, that’s not how it works. But I got to talk to them all. I got to stand on the edge of the cliff before they jumped. I got to see them jump.

Getting ready to snowboard in Point Break
Getting ready to snowboard in Point Break

I got to hang out with the rock climbers. I got to do a bunch of rock climbing. I got to do everything except catch the wave surfing. I got to stand on top of Mont Blanc with the snowboard and talk to the snowboarders and really immerse myself in all these different disciplines, all these different sports and meet the world’s best in all these things which is just fascinating anyway. To meet someone who’s the best in the world at something, for me is a great thrill and something that I felt pretty privileged to meet a number of people who are the best in the world at their sport.

Nerd Report: Motocross is a fairly reasonable sport. Did you get to do any riding?

Luke Bracey: Yeah, I did a little bit of riding when we were in Utah, a tiny little bit. But then again, you saw some of the stuff at the start of the movie. You can only do it if you’re the best of the best. I got to do a tiny little bit and all that, but we wanted it to be 100% legitimate. That’s why getting these people to do it was so important to the movie, important to me in terms of making it and important to everyone in terms of making the movie. If we’re going to do Point Break, we’ve got to do it properly. There’s no faking it.

Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break
Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break

Nerd Report: Is the American voice easy for you? Utah sounds different than you did in November Man.

Luke Bracey: Yeah, for me, the American accent is something I was lucky, I could always do it but there’s still a lot of work that goes into it. With November Man it was a certain thing and with Utah, I actually did a lot of work in terms of how he sounds at the start of the movie and how once he falls back into his old world, how he goes into that accent. When he’s at the FBI, I really concentrated on the very round Utah sounds they use in their vowels and stuff like that. With my ability to do the American accent, I could then delve further into it and not have to just worry about sounding like an American. I got to concentrate on what stage is he more connected to the Utah part of him and what stage is he more connected to the extreme sports world part of him? The kind of Californian drawl. For me, the accents are very interesting, fun. I enjoy that stuff and they color characters more than a lot of things.

Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break
Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah in Point Break

Nerd Report: What’s next for you?

Luke Bracey: I just finished shooting a movie in Sydney, Australia, a movie called Hacksaw Ridge that Mel Gibson is directing. That’s going to be a pretty special movie I think. Andrew Garfield plays a guy called Desmond T. Doss, who was a conscientious objector who won the Medal of Honor in WWII. He didn’t carry a gun and he saved about 75 people by himself on Okinawa. It’s a true story that I can’t believe I hadn’t heard before and it’s a very special movie I think.

Nerd Report: If you look at Mel’s movies, they’re very intense. Was Point Break good preparation for being ready for that?

Luke Bracey: Yeah, to some degree, absolutely. The commitment, every job you do, you learn something. The thing I learned on Point Break was the 100% commitment needed to make a movie. From the first day, you have to have as much gusto and as much passion as the very last day. I think you learn more about movies every one you make. I got to learn so much on Point Break about making a film, to then move onto Mel and he got to teach me so much as well and I got to view so much. Yeah, every movie prepares you for the next one for sure.

Nerd Report: It’s amazing I’ve never heard that story.

Luke Bracey: It’s an American story. He earned the Medal of Honor and he didn’t fire a gun. He was the first conscientious objector to. It’s amazing, he was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. He didn’t fire a weapon and he’s in WWII in Okinawa, the bloodiest battle in WWII. In the documentary about him, some of the people who were in his platoon, they didn’t really trust him that he didn’t carry a gun and that he didn’t want to carry a gun. Once they got into battle, they realized just how brave a man he was because anyone who would walk into that without any protection is extremely courageous. It’s a fascinating story, it really is.

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