Nathan Gamble … Moviegoers may recognize Nathan Gamble from his role as part of a family that learns about love from their adorable and naughty dog in 2008’s tear-jerker, Marley & Me. The now 13-year-old actor plays perhaps the most pivotal role in Dolphin Tale as Winter’s closest advocate and friend. It’s a character he was excited to portray and one he can’t believe he’s had the opportunity to do.

“It’s truly an experience like none other. Just to feel [Winter’s] skin, you know, and just to feel her. It’s just amazing. If you would’ve said four months ago that I would be swimming with a dolphin, I would say you’re crazy. It’s beyond cool. It’s awesome.”

In order to prepare for scenes when he would swim alongside Winter and interact with her in the rehab pools at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the actor spent some one-on-one time getting to know his new aquatic friend before the cameras started rolling.

“Actually before we started shooting, I came here three weeks earlier and just started to practice with Winter and do all of this kind of cool stuff. Like I would hold on to her peduncle. And she pulls me along and then she pushes me on her rostrum, and it’s just all this really cool stuff.”

While on set, Nathan was also able to see the impact that Winter has in real life with those who come to visit her at the aquarium.

“I saw a little kid who had an amputated leg go up to Winter. And I could just see it in his eyes that ‘since Winter didn’t give up, I won’t give up.’ Kind of gives them more hope. It was really great and awesome.” 

Cozi Zuehlsdorff … A newcomer to film, Cozi (a nickname for “Cozette”) is no stranger to acting as the young star has already appeared in several television commercials as well as performed in musical theater. Her first major motion picture role, however, required her to dig deep and bring on the waterworks in one pivotal scene when working with director Charles Martin Smith.

“He’s the best director. He’s the only director I’ve ever had. He’s really respectful. There was a scene where I had to cry, and I got like 20 minutes to get ready. I went on set and there were three people with a camera. I just sat down, and I cried and then I was all done. It was amazing how [Charles] didn’t make me keep doing it. He didn’t bring everybody in to just stare into my face.”

Like her character in the film (Clay's daughter Hazel), as well as her costar Nathan Gamble, Cozi is also homeschooled in real life.

“Well, it sure gives me a lot of free time … I don’t have as strict of a school schedule, so I can audition for things in L.A. And it’s helped me get closer to God and closer to my mom, who’s my best friend. I love homeschooling.”

Besides studying while homeschooling on set, Cozi also learned some wonderful life lessons from what she observed while working on Dolphin Tale.

“In my way, I see it like people with prosthetic legs and stuff are just like us, and I don’t think we should put them in a low place or have pride over them or anything because they’re just like you and me. They’re just sitting down. [Filming this movie] has taught me and everybody else not to feel different or anything, ‘cause it’s just like Winter. We don’t think of her as different.