For decades, Hollywood's fascination with scuba diving has taken the hobby and glamorized it into huge films such as the 007 flicks, "Thunderball," "The Abyss," "Open Water" and now with the upcoming film "Into the Blue."
But beyond Hollywood, actors have taken this passion behind the camera and turned it into real-life hobbies. Among these famous scuba divers includes Lauren Hutton, Lloyd Bridges, Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Sandra Bullock, Nikki Taylor, Tom Cruise and fiancée Katie Holmes.
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, talks about his love for the sport: "When I was growing up I was very much into being outdoors, by the ocean. I love scuba diving, it's probably my favorite thing to do above some of the other sports that I do. My family loves to dive, and I was always thinking about it."
For Sandra Bullock, it wasn't about her love for the ocean that got her into the craze; it was all about facing one of her biggest fears. "I don't like being under water, that's why I learned to scuba dive years ago... to conquer the fear. When I get to the base scuba diving I'm fine, it's when you are treading water and you don't know what's below. I love when you get to the peace of scuba diving."
While for Sandra Bullock scuba diving helped her overcome her fear, for "Transporter 2" star, Jason Statham, it was a nerve-wrecking experience that first introduced him and got him hooked to the sport. "The scuba diving [scene in the movie Transporter] was pretty difficult, since I had never done that before. On my first dive, [the dive instructor] took me down into a dark cave. Then he turned off the flashlight and pulled off my mask--just to see what I'd do! In a dark cave under the water. On my first dive. That was a lot of fun."
Perhaps the most avid scuba diver of all celebrities is James Cameron, "Titanic" director, a.k.a. the King of the World. After all, he did also direct "The Abyss" as well the upcoming action adventure and deep diving thriller "Into the Blue." A scuba diving enthusiast and lover of the ocean, Cameron has paved new innovations of underwater filming techniques thanks to his interest in touring the wreck of the Titanic. In his latest film, "Into the Blue," the Oscar winning director cast Jessica Alba, a great choice for Alba herself is an experienced scuba diver. "When I was thirteen I learned to dive for a TV show I did called "The New Adventures of Flipper" I grew up in CA where the water is so cold that diving isn't something you do if you're a regular teenage girl. But I loved it immediately, I was fearless." For her new role, her experiences proved to be quite useful. "Usually actresses lie about what they can do so they can get a role," said Alba. "They were showing me what a scuba tank was. I grabbed it and I was like, 'Just tell me what you want me to do.' I was the only one that had been certified. Everyone else had to learn all that stuff for the movie."
For his next film project, James Cameron will be exploring the world of "free divers," expert divers who are able to hold their breaths for long periods of time while descending as deep as they can into the ocean. For this film, Cameron has turned to Mexican beauty Salma Hayek for the lead role. Hayek, like Alba, is also an experienced and certified scuba diver. The actress first fell in love with scuba diving during the filming of her movie "After the Sunset" in the Bahamas when her actor boyfriend, Josh Lucas visited her on the set and the two decided to learn together. Hayek loved it so much, she even convinced a close to also get certified.
So while James Cameron enjoys taking the camera under water, in the end scuba diving to him is still more leisure than work. "Whether it was 'Terminator' or 'Aliens' or 'The Abyss,' I'd always go on a diving trip," he said. "Filmmaking is insanity. The ocean is where I go to regain my sanity."
To guarantee an absolute scuba diving experience, celebrities often choose the most secretive locations. For Gene Hackman, it's Bonaire, the least known of the three ABC islands (Aruba, Curacao being the other two). Less crowded and peaceful, serious divers often frequent the area as well as several other celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Kathleen Turner, Penelope Cruz and Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates. Former Spice girl, Geri Halliwell prefers the more sophisticated private island, Mustique of the West Indies for her scuba diving escapades. The more anonymous they are the better. As golf pro Tiger Woods explains his reason for his love of scuba diving: "The fish don't know who I am."