Jason Segel has always had a fear of heights, so what better way to resolve that acrophobia than have his screenplay's lead character leap off a cliff?
At Laie Point on the North Shore of Oahu, director Stoller and his crew found a beautiful 180-degree ocean lookout; there, local kids jump off a 30-foot cliff into the rocky water below. For the scene in which Peter is literally clinging for dear life to the cliff, while Rachel wades in the water below encouraging him to jump, there would be much tricky camerawork (and vine grasping).
As both 80-foot and 40-foot condor cranes were placed high above the set, the production was in full swing at Laie Point. Housed on a cliff with lights, cameras and crew-and three safety boats in the water with world-class water experts at the helm, monitoring the wind and ocean conditions-the production prepared to shoot Peter's mental escape from Sarah. Even the boom operator was floating in a rubber tube in the ocean. Logistically it was difficult, but not impossible.
"We have this fantastic take on film of Peter being terrified, because Jason was terrified as he clung to the rocks," remembers Stoller. "He was a real trouper as he was strapped to the side of this cliff, amidst the shrubbery, for about six hours. Mila, too, was incredible that day. She treaded water, take after take-without flippers or a wet suit- with a scuba diver standing by, just off camera. I was impressed with both of their stamina."
Stunt coordinator TIM TRELLA designed a rig to create the illusion of Segel falling off the cliff. In reality, the actor wore a harness, and a wire would catch him and yank him back to safety whenever needed. However, after take after harrowing take, he yelled to the crew that he would get back at them in their next life. Says Segel, "This is the moment in my life I realized I am a total coward-as children were leaping off the cliff around me." He laughs, "Being strapped to that cliff all day, I got a fabulous tan...which you know is going to affect our continuity."
An easier task for most of the performers was entering the crystal-blue Hawaiian waters for surfing lessons. All first timers, Segel, Brand and Rudd had to learn to surf for the film (and Brand how to get smashed by Segel and a wave before being tossed to shore). Bell and Kunis quickly grew to love it. Jokes the converted Bell, "Surfing was my absolute favorite thing to learn. I am thinking I may go pro."