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Teen Actress Takes to the Sea

15 Apr, 2007 By: John Latchem

Eye of the Dolphin

When preparing for her role in Eye of the Dolphin, Carly Schroeder wasn't sure how much time she'd spend in the water. Sure, she lives in California, enjoys surfing and has been a certified scuba diver since she was 10.

But when she was 14 and spent a month in the Bahamas to film the movie, the dolphin trainers originally intended to minimize her interaction with the animals. All that changed once Schroeder demonstrated how comfortable she was with the dolphins.

“The trainers taught me the hand signals and started letting me do some of the stunts,” Schroeder said. “I think I was with the dolphins 24-7.”

The results can be seen June 5, when Monterey Video releases Eye of the Dolphin on DVD.

“It's a great family movie,” said Schroeder, best known for roles on “General Hospital,” “Lizzie McGuire” and as Harrison Ford's daughter in Firewall.

Schroeder stars as Alyssa, a troubled teen who has been living with her grandmother since her mother's death a year earlier. She is sent to live with her father, who runs a dolphin research facility in the Bahamas. Alyssa discovers she has an uncanny ability to communicate with dolphins. When the research facility is threatened with closure, Alyssa and a wild dolphin she befriends must come to the rescue. The cast includes Katharine Ross, Adrian Dunbar, Christine Adams, Jane Lynch and George Harris.

The film was a favorite on the festival circuit, winning best drama and best child actor awards at the International Family Film Festival.

The $24.95 DVD prebooks May 1 and includes actor bios, downloadable wallpapers and the behind-the-scenes featurette “Carly's Excellent Dolphin Adventure.”

When filming ended, Schroeder was allowed to do more complicated stunts. One, called a rocket rod, involves standing on the noses of two dolphins as they propel themselves out of the water.

“That's not the kind of stuff you can do at Sea World,” she said.

She also learned enough to conduct dolphin shows for the tourists.

“Dolphins are so spiritual,” Schroeder said. “If you ever have a chance to swim with them — not just pet them, but actually get in the water with them, and let them swim beside you — it's an opportunity you have to take.”

Schroeder, who turns 17 later this year, hasn't had a chance to visit the Bahamas since the film wrapped, but is eager to return.

“I would love to see the dolphins again and play with them,” Schroeder said. “They have their own personalities, and they recognize you immediately.”

Schroeder next stars in Gracie, which opens June 1. In the movie, set in 1978, her character focuses on soccer after her brother's tragic death, and tries to join a boys soccer team. The film is inspired by the life of Elizabeth Shue, who plays her mother.

Schroeder said she trained for three months to prepare for the soccer scenes.

“It was pretty intense,” Schroeder said.

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