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The Amazing True Story Behind Shailene Woodley's New Film 'Adrift'!

Written by Meagan Gitelman. Published: June 21 2018


[Warning: This article contains spoilers from the film and the real-life story it was based on!]


In 1983, a young couple, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, set off for the adventure of a lifetime, sailing 4,000 miles across the sea from Tahiti to San Diego. The two lovers didn’t know they were headed straight into one of the worst storms in history: Hurricane Raymond.


Their yacht capsized and Richard was thrown overboard and lost at sea, leaving Tami to navigate the waters for herself and find her way to land, having lost the love of her life. She chronicled her unbelievable story of survival in her memoir, Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea.


Her story has now been brought to the big screen, opening in theaters on June 1 as the movie Adrift, which is something she always wanted.


“I have waited 34 years to see my story made into a feature film,” she told Country Living. “I love the way my story is told and woven like a tapestry. It has everything: love, adventure, survival, tragedy, and in the end, hope."


In the film, Richard (Sam Claflin) is present as a figment of Tami’s (Shailene Woodley) imagination, until it’s revealed at the end that she is truly alone and has to learn to let go. While the film received criticisms for being sexist in portraying Tami as reliant on Richard after his death to survive, she says she disagrees.


“When I was out there, Richard was with me. I felt his presence, I talked to him constantly, I slept with his clothes around me. I heard his voice consoling me, encouraging me, and helping me to keep going in my darkest time,” she said in the interview. “His presence does not take away the fact that I, as a woman, single-handedly survived.”


During development and filming of Adrift, Tami skyped with Shailene and spent time on set. They became fast friends, and Tami says both she and Sam did her story justice in the film.




“It’s uncanny how much Sam reminds me of Richard, just the way he looks a lot like Richard; from his humor, his accent, some of his mannerisms even are just unbelievable,” she said in an interview with We Live Entertainment. “When I first met Sam in Fiji, I had to step back a little bit and just go, ‘wow.'”


After taking several months to recover mentally and physically from a head injury, Tami was quick to jump back behind the steering wheel. She now has her captain’s license and still sails to this day.


To watch her story come to life on screen, go see Adrift playing in theaters now!



(Image via STX)

- Meagan Gitelman, YH Contributing Writer