When Aussies Nathaniel Buzolic and Bren Foster packed their bags for South Africa to shoot sequel Deep Blue Sea 3, both actors were anxious about any close up shark encounters.

“I used to be a keen surfer,” says Buzolic, 36, best known for his roles in The Vampire Diaries and Hacksaw Ridge. “But I pretty much stopped when I was 15 after seeing a huge dead shark on the shore at Byron Bay one Christmas Eve. It had been eaten on one side and the gap was so massive, I thought ‘Oh great – there’s an even bigger shark in the water which took a crack at this guy’.

“I became really scared of sharks because of that and haven’t surfed since. I no longer feel comfortable with being in the ocean or surfing in Australia specifically,” he says.

Foster, 43, agrees: “Surfers get knocked off their boards because when the sharks see the board with your hands and feet flopping in the water, they mistake them for a seal. But once they take a bite, they don’t really like the taste and, in Nate’s case, they definitely won’t like the taste of him!”

In this third instalment of the popular shark franchise, both actors play members of a dubious marine crew tasked with capturing the artificially enhanced bull sharks that escaped at the end of Deep Blue Sea 2.

Tania Raymonde, Nathaniel Buzolic and Bren Foster in Deep Blue Sea 3

“Growing up in Australia, we all have a huge connection with the ocean and the beach and, in doing this movie, I learned a lot more about shark behaviour. Bren and I learned how to scuba dive, training in California before going on location in Cape Town. We both fell in love with exploring that underwater world,” says Buzolic, a devout Christian who, pre-pandemic, conducted tours around Jerusalem.

But even armed with new experiences and information, he’s put away his surfboard for good. “If you’re sitting on a surfboard, you’re like a sitting duck. Whereas if you’re underwater in scuba equipment, you have more visibility,” he says.

For Foster, who has starred in The Last Ship and Cedar Boys, the ocean always came second place to martial arts – he’s a 7th Dan Taekwondo master with black belts across multiple styles. He enjoyed displaying his kicks in Deep Blue Sea 3 and has his own successful martial arts school in Sydney, as well as being involved in an Australian shoe business.

Ask if he’s worried about where the next acting job will come from, he says: “It’s very scary for everyone. Even my martial arts school – one of the biggest schools in Australia – was closed for months and we had to shift gears.”

Currently living in Los Angeles with his wife and three kids, he tries not to worry about the future. “I know some great stuff is coming and I’m just looking forward to that. I’ve got my beautiful family and beautiful kids and I live a very blessed happy life and I’m grateful for what I have.”

Nate Buzolic suited up

Meanwhile, Buzolic has temporarily returned to Australia where he’s taking care of his mum in Sydney. “As long as I can look after her and keep my health and find ways to continue to engage with the Christian community, I’m happy with that,” he says.

Filming Deep Blue Sea 3 was something of a reunion for the two actors. “When I first came to the US about nine years ago, Nate had already been here for a few years, so we hung out and read lines together. Nate was really welcoming and showed me the ropes,” says Foster. “So when I found out we’d be working together on this, I was so happy and we just picked up from where we left off all those years ago.”

Buzolic jokes how COVID-19 has upped their chances of Oscar glory for Deep Blue Sea 3: “With all this going down, I thought we might be the only film released in 2020 and maybe I had a chance of winning an Oscar if nothing else came out!”

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