Soul Surfer is the inspiring story of Bethany Hamilton (played by AnnaSophia Robb), a surfer who endured an unfortunate shark attack and lost her arm. Despite the tragedy, Hamilton stands up to surprise the world with her comeback to surfing.

Ross Thomas, a USC graduate and film and TV star, portrays Noah, Bethany’s older brother. Having become close to some of the Hamilton family members, Thomas is passionate about this truly amazing story of a girl who turned her sick twist of fate into an emblem of her strength as a person.

What would you say is the most attractive part of this film?

Bethany Hamilton’s story is extremely inspirational and will touch many lives. Also, the surfing component of the film: I am a surfer, a sport that I love, being in Hawaii [for the shoot] was a blessing. Coming together with an exceptional cast [Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood in her film debut, Dennis Quaid], a very large ensemble of talented people that poured their heart and soul [into the film]. It’s incredible, there is so much.

Talk about your role in the film.

I am Bethany’s older brother, Noah. My character is the quintessential [brotherly] figure. Noah has always been very much a major component of [Bethany’s] surfing career. Bethany’s cue meter is Noah, who was a positive role model to her in surfing. After the shark incident, he definitely actively helped [Bethany].

Could you relate to him?

He definitely was a relatable character because we are similar in age and share a lot of the same interests. I got to know him [on the set] and found we are both photographers and love surfing and creative endeavors.

How would you say that Noah is different from any other role you have played so far?

[Noah] is definitely unique for me in the sense that it is my first time playing a real person who is alive today, having the chance to be a part of a true story. In that sense, it is pretty unique and a great opportunity to do justice to the Hamilton’s story.

How was it working with the director?

[Sean McNamara] is someone whom I have worked with over the years. This is my second film with him. I also did the TV series “Beyond the Breaks” [with him]. Sean and I work very well together; he enjoys collaborating and the creative process, which he shares with the actors and the crew. He is very easy to work with, and he loves surfing. And his knowledge of shooting in Hawaii and surf culture definitely resonates [in Soul Surfer].

What can the audience expect from this film?

Soul Surfer is a film about Bethany Hamilton. It’s really about her overcoming all of the odds of the incidents and coming back to do what she loves, and becoming a professional [surfer].

I hope that what [the audience] will take away from this film is to have courage and faith, determination that you can rise above and beyond and be able to want to again do what you love. [Bethany] turns tragedy and uses her story to touch others. It has a very positive and inspirational message, and I hope that people will ultimately walk out of this film with hope and faith.

Soul Surfer releases in theaters April 8.