Vinessa Shaw had big shoes to fill when she signed on to play Bonnie Carroll in Big Miracle. As an adviser to President Reagan, Bonnie played a major role in the real-life whale rescue spotlighted in the film, and even met her late husband through their unexpected teamwork on the effort. We sat down with Vinessa and Bonnie at a recent press day for the movie, where they said they formed a quick friendship upon first meeting. Check out our interview, and if you missed them earlier, don't forget to watch Vinessa's costar Drew Barrymore in our latest I'm a Huge Fan series!
She came up to me and said, "Isn't this exciting?" So I thought, OK, good, it's exciting rather than petrifying. Right. It really did capture the international media. It just dominated the news. So Bonnie, I wanted to start with you. You played such a big role in this rescue effort and it was a really risky move for you at the time, so what made you decide to get the President involved and kind put your name on the line for this. You know, actually, President Reagan in real life, was very, very supportive. I happen to be the only National Guardsman who was also a White House staffer so that was how I got connected initially. But, Boyd was fully, fully supportive, and he was right there with me. And he wanted to bring the entire, anything the federal government I could do, he was right there, he said let's make this happen. Venessa, playing Bonnie, I know that you two spend a lot of time together, so what was your first impression of her when you two first meet? My first impression was her beauty beautiful smile and she came up to me and was like, "isn't this exciting?" And so I felt, "Okay, good." It's exciting rather than petrifying to see me play her. Yeah, it was a beautiful first meeting and, you know, from the moment we met, connected, yeah. What were you able to learn from Bonnie that you brought to the role that maybe you didn't know before just having read the script? Well, she brought huge scrapbook of her life, from the Coast Guardsmen to like, you know, being, now doing what she does for Taps, actually. So, it was so amazing to be that, you know, connected to her immediately. And then afterwards we talked for a long, long time and was able to see like where everything came from or how her love began. I mean, I couldn't even imagine that it was true when I first read that, you know, they fell in love over the phone. And then, she said, "No, it was true. It was love at first voice, you know?" And they felt like they knew each other forever. And I said that's just the most special thing I've ever heard. So. Aww. That was the beginning of really knowing that it was a deeply serious moment. And so, I had a lot responsibility to, to take on to make sure that was possible and brought to life. And it was, she was beautiful. Absolutely. Did you realize at the time, what a global impact the story was going to have? Oh, yes. I mean, it really did capture the international media. It just dominated the news. And yes, we were very aware of that. And then they had a book written about it and the author of the book got to know, Tom and I very well. He was a guest at our wedding and, you know, and then to have it made into a motion picture, is just incredible. How did you react when you first saw the film? Oh, gosh! It was wonderful. And, you know, there is one part where they actually use my husband, and footage from that rail rescue when he was up at barrow. So to hear his voice was great.