Suraj Sharma at the 'Life Of Pi' UK premiere

Suraj Sharma at the 'Life Of Pi' UK premiere

Suraj Sharma didn't know how to swim before filming 'Life Of Pi'.

The 19-year-old actor was stunned to land the lead role in Ang Lee's big screen adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling book as he had never acted before and was especially terrified about shooting scenes on a homemade raft out at sea because he couldn't swim.

He told HuffPost UK: "I remember feeling very clearly that someone is lying to me [about winning the role]. I didn't know how to swim before. And I had to film the scene of Pi watching his family drown so, right from the beginning, we knew I was going to have to hold my breath for a minute, minute and a half. We did a test, and I held my breath for 14 seconds, and that's really bad.

"We had to train every day for that one scene, so it was in my head the whole time. And for five or six days before then, I couldn't hold my breath for that long, but they trained me really hard."

Suraj plays Piscine Patel, a shipwrecked boy stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. The rising star admits his biggest regret about the experience is not having had any contact with any real-life big cats as he had to act opposite a blue screen for most of the film.

He lamented: "I've never been too close to a tiger, because they are so unpredictable. I want to really badly, but it's a dangerous thing to do. I'll probably have to go to a tiger temple."

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