As much as we loved the 1991 cult classic, Point Break, we are surprisingly stoked about the remake hitting theaters Christmas Day. And it’s not just the awesomeness of the action in the trailers, but also the presence of Aussie babe Teresa Palmer.

Previously known for her indie films—Warm Bodies, Kill Me Three Times—Palmer is happy to transition into big budget movies.

And the industry seems to be taking notice—Palmer won the Rising Star Award at the Maui Film Festival. We talked to the Adelaide native—who takes on rock climbing and ocean stunts in the new flick—about overcoming your fears and getting out of your comfort zone.

“Find what scares you and push yourself. Continue to push the boundaries.”

For Point Break, did you get swimming lessons?
While I am from Australia, I didn’t really live close to the beach or have a pool and I wasn’t a very confident swimmer. I had really only been in the waves a handful of times. I never surfed before! And I never felt comfortable there. So when I was told I would be with the stingrays, with the animals, and I would be underneath very far down in the water, I was immediately so anxious about it! It was so liberating though—I actually got taught by a scuba diver who lives in Hawaii, Ocean Ramsey. She swims with great white sharks and grew up in the water. She taught me how to breathe and find my heart rate and hold my breathe a lot longer. I started only being able to hold my breathe for 30 seconds and then went up to almost two minutes! That was everything to me! It was quite an achievement. I felt really comfortable in water after that.

There were sharks very near where you were shooting too…
It was amazing! We were in Tahiti and we were told that we had to go under the water, we were about 30 feet down. We were essentially strapped to the bottom of the ocean and then they were like, ‘All right! And action!’ And they take out the oxygen tank. And you are attempting to act with your eyes open! And we are staring at each other. And then at some point, you are running out of air, and you give the signal—and hope someone would swim down because you are attached to the bottom of the ocean, you know that’s your only lifeline! They also told us that if you panic, you are not allowed to quickly try and swim to the surface and free yourself, because your lungs would expand [too fast]… so that was a really interesting experience. And I have to say, I really overcame my fear. I am just so blessed that I had the opportunity.

What advice do you have for getting more comfortable in the ocean?
Get really prepared and comfortable in a pool, and work with your breath and lung capacity. You have to do this before you get into the ocean. Because then you’re dealing with waves, sand and your eyes will sting in salt water. I got really comfortable doing the work in a pool first and then once I was comfortable, I was ready to go into the ocean. But it was still really intense for me at first, my whole body was shaking, I was so cold! But I was really committed to getting it right. My character is like a mermaid in the film; she is so confident in the water that I wanted to embrace that!

You are the only woman in the cast, is that intimidating at all?
It wasn’t actually at all! I loved being the only woman! She is such a strong female presence… she is really ethereal, and is the moral compass of this group. She is the one that they come to for grounding. She is a hyper-spiritual, empowered individual, and I loved playing her. She keeps up with the boys, she is just as good as they are, for all the extreme sports. As somewhat of a feminist, I really loved that I was this woman who represents strength. She is absolutely a grown individual woman in her own right and I loved that. It was really cool to be able to do that.

Any advice to guys for getting out of the comfort zone?
Find what scares you and push yourself. Continue to push the boundaries. I think that is really important. My husband started in a gym with extreme sports, he started with baby steps and continually got into it and now he is so active in it. He loves it! He does Barry’s Boot Camp every day. The adrenaline is like a drug for him. So you just have to throw yourself in the deep end.