Less than year ago, Gerard Butler underwent a near-death experience while filming the surfing film Chasing Mavericks when he was swallowed into the ocean by a wave nearly stories tall. Fortunate enough to live to tell about it, the actor recounted the frightening incident.
The Scottish actor recalled that he was shooting at Mavericks, a popular surfing spot in Northern California, where he had shot a few previous days, and was filming a scene in which he was paddling out well beyond the shoreline. With winter waves regularly reaching over 20 feet, Butler says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"We just got caught in the wrong place and we saw this wave coming from half a mile away and we're trying to get past it and paddle [away]," he revealed. "It just came and I saw it and I went, 'I am in big trouble,' because I already had no breath, and [the wave] took me down and it just went on forever."
When faced with a dangerous situation, surfers are usually able to use their surfboards, which are strapped around their legs, as a life-saving device, but Butler couldn't rely on the board because he had coincidentally removed the strap prior to the wipeout. Already fatigued from trying to out-paddle the monstrous wave, he was in dire need of swimming up to the surface for a breath of air.
After a series of waves kept him underwater for a while, Butler was rescued and taken to shore. He was later taken to the hospital only for doctors to find that he had luckily incurred no serious injuries in the wipeout. Upon his rescue, the 42-year-old actor recounted that his head was pounding from a lack of oxygen and he was uncontrollably grunting from the water in his lungs.
Although he was thankfully saved by rescuers, Butler revealed that the sheer force of the towering waves keeping him underwater nearly made him decide to let himself pass out and hope that someone would eventually resuscitate him.
"I actually at one point thought, 'Just let me pass out; maybe they'll get me later,'" he said.
Despite the terrifying wipeout, Butler divulged that he still enjoys surfing and has returned to the ocean a few times since wrapping the project. For his full version of the story, check out the video above.
Chasing Mavericks is in theaters October 26.