NEW YORK — When Helen Hunt met with Australian actor Brenton Thwaites to audition for the role of her son in “Ride” – a movie she wrote and directed – the actress liked him but didn’t think he was right for the part.

“I wrote it as a love story between a mother and a son, so it was all about who was gonna be this boy and Brenton came in to audition,” Hunt said. “I didn’t know what to do because he’s gorgeous and kind, clearly on his way to being a movie star, no doubt about it, and totally wrong for what I wrote.”

But Thwaites wouldn’t take no for an answer and asked if he could have another audition.

“That reminded me of me,” Hunt said. “I got some of the best parts I’ve ever had by saying I’d like to come back in” – like her role in 1997’s “As Good as it Gets,” which won her a best actress Oscar.

In “Ride,” Hunt plays a single mom who is completely devoted to her college-age son. When he drops out of school and moves across the country to surf, she follows him and takes up the sport, too. Along the way, she begins to re-establish her own identity.

Hunt, 51, said she “didn’t bother” wondering whether someone else could play her part because she didn’t think anyone else would “put up with what I put up with. I was in the ocean for nine hours at a stretch.”

Fortunately, surfing and the ocean are important to Hunt in real life.

“There is nothing that right-sizes you more than that beautiful, big body of water,” she said.


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