Ocean views

Catching up with Cobie Smulders at the Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Cobie Smulders, The Lego Movie voice of Wonder Woman and The Avengers' Maria Hill, on the Oceana blue carpet
Cobie Smulders, The Lego Movie voice of Wonder Woman and The Avengers' Maria Hill, on the Oceana blue carpet Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Swimmingly integrating Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli and Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid with Livia Firth's (aka Livia Giuggioli) Green Carpet Challenge, or blue, I had a conversation with Oceana Media Advisory Board member, Cobie Smulders, the host of the First Annual Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party.

The evening before, at BAMcinemaFest, Cobie presented the premiere of Kris Swanberg's Unexpected in which she stars with Gail Bean, Anders Holm and Elizabeth McGovern.

Oceana Media Advisory Board member, Cobie Smulders: "I've always wanted to be under the sea."
Oceana Media Advisory Board member, Cobie Smulders: "I've always wanted to be under the sea." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Oceana supporters include Diane Lane, January Jones, Morgan Freeman, Mary Steenburgen, Jeff Goldblum, Pierce Brosnan, James Cameron, Harrison Ford, Barbra Streisand, Sting, Josh Lucas, Jason Priestley, Kate Walsh, Miguel Bosé, Amber Valletta, Adrian Grenier, Trudie Styler, Alexandra Cousteau, Rashida Jones, Almudena Fernández, Miranda Cosgrove, Sarah Shahi, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Sam Trammell.

Oceana was founded in 2001 and is the largest international advocacy organisation focused solely on ocean conservation.

This is what Oceana is striving for: "We envision a future where the world's oceans are filled with life. Where enormous schools of anchovies, sardines and other fish are common sights. Where marlins, sharks and tuna roam the seas in large numbers; where coral gardens, sea-grass meadows and other ocean landscapes thrive and sustain its life; where dolphins, whales and sea turtles flourish; where local fishing cultures and economies blossom rather than decline; and where seafood is a healthy and plentiful source of food for hundreds of millions of people."

Anne-Katrin Titze: Do you think you should have been in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?

Cobie Smulders: I'll go ahead and I'll say yes - because I love that movie. That was a good one.

AKT: There aren't that many ocean movies, are there?

First annual Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party with Discovery Channel and Manhattan Magazine
First annual Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party with Discovery Channel and Manhattan Magazine Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

CS: Not about saving the ocean, for sure. I feel like, a lot of times we are scared of creatures in the ocean or we're in a submarine or at war or something like that. You are right, there isn't a lot, unfortunately.

AKT: You should push for one.

CS: Yes, I should. I feel like a lot of the movies that are out there are fear based. It would be nice to put a more positive spin on it.

AKT: Now that the Pope is on board addressing climate change. What do you think of that?

CS: I'm excited. I think it's so important. Helping in saving the ocean and creating a better environment for the aquatic world is so difficult because it's borderless. And you have all these countries that control their ports and the reefs around their country but it's so connected and what people of another country put in the ocean is affecting us all globally. So I really feel there has to be better communication worldwide about it. We should all be working together and be better about how we fish, how we get rid of our trash.

AKT: The COP21 in Paris is coming up at the end of the year. Is there something specifically ocean related that you are hoping for?

CS: Right. I think there's so many things to talk about. It'll be interesting to see what is going to be discussed climate-wise and the effect on the ocean. I'd love to attend. I hope that the focus is on how do we get to be more responsible with our waters.

Oceana Senior Advisor Alexandra Cousteau with Cobie Smulders
Oceana Senior Advisor Alexandra Cousteau with Cobie Smulders Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Floating islands of garbage are not the way to go into the future. Last week, I attended an event focused on the dangers of fast fashion. The garment industry is the second largest polluter in the world.

CS: I didn't even know that.

AKT: There is so much that needs to be done and it's so important to get the information out there, like you are doing tonight.

CS: You know, I do feel so helpless, though. At this point in the game, I think we've done a lot of damage and too much really to fix everything. What we really need to do is find a way to maintain a level or slow the decline of quality. That's sort of where we're at. It would take multiple decades to try to fix what is already done. So right now, it's about trying to be as cautious as we can, how we get rid of things. We should just stop using fricking styrofoam. It's the corporate world. I don't want to be the person in charge of it. I just like to be the person who goes "Do change this!"

AKT: We as consumers can change our behavior. Refuse to buy anything with styrofoam, for example. Livia Firth, at the event I mentioned, said that if we only bought clothes we intend to wear at least 30 times, the effect would be enormous. The dress you are wearing is beautiful.

CS: It's borrowed, by the way. It's Missoni. And it's going to go back and will be worn by somebody else.

AKT: It's very oceany. Where did your love for the ocean come from?

CS: From birth. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada, which is right on the water. I spent my summers on a boat, fishing and clamming and catching crabs. Our social life, our day to day life, our eating - everything came from the ocean. That's how I grew up. I even wanted to - I still kind of do, but I don't want to go to school for seven years - I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger. I have such a passion for it. I scuba dive a lot now. Under water is like my happy place. I wanted to be a mermaid my whole life.

Cobie Smulders with the media on the Gansevoort Park Avenue Rooftop
Cobie Smulders with the media on the Gansevoort Park Avenue Rooftop Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Did you like The Little Mermaid? Or you don't understand her, because you want the opposite?

CS: That's true. She got it so good. The hard ones are the hard ones.

AKT: In the Hans Christian Andersen version, in the end she at least gets an immortal soul.

CS: Yes. I've always wanted to be under the sea.

AKT: Did you ever see Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli with Ingrid Bergman? There is a very powerful fishing scene with a massive number of tuna jumping out of the ocean. That was 1950, the tuna are not there anymore. What about the overfishing?

CS: Oh, yes. Unfortunately, we live in a society within America where people consume way too much food, or they buy too much food and so much food is wasted. And because of that urge from the people it's causing these corporations, those fishing industries to catch so many fish and to get it all at once so that it doesn't get the opportunity to repopulate. And slowly, species by species, they're getting wiped out.

AKT: Do you have a favorite fish?

CS: To eat or to swim with?

AKT: One of each!

CS: I'm a salmon girl. Because I grew up up north and we have the best salmon up there. And to swim with? I love it when you're under water and you're surrounded by a school of fish and how they communicate. I remember I was under water one time and I was diving and I was on the reef and there was this one little yellow fish and there was this trail of larger blue fish and they were all in a line. And this fish would come and check them out and then they'd swim away. It was like a cleaning station, basically. The fact that all these fish were lined up to be cleaned by this one fish.

AKT: Do you swim in the ocean here?

Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party held at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Rooftop
Nautica Oceana City & Sea Party held at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Rooftop Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

CS: No. Maybe to go to the Hamptons or something. But it's more that the water is colder, it's more wild. They just recently discovered that there's whale migration that goes along just up here, north of New York. It's like a once a year thing. The ocean is a huge place. People go and they want to connect to those creatures and unless you dive or unless you snorkel you can't really do that. And they rarely show themselves. I think getting more footage out there, showing how beautiful it can be, showing the decrease. How basically a lot of the reefs have fallen into ruin over the last I don't know how many decades. I don't know, I'm just trying to be here and to help.

AKT: Did you ever make a film that connected to your passion for the sea?

CS: We did a PSA. I went to Belize with Oceana and we took a lot of footage and tried to get the footage out there. But I love what you are saying, that I should try and do something.

AKT: I'd love to see you in an ocean movie that does not emphasize the fear, or the creature from the dark. A salmon blockbuster or the reverse of the Little Mermaid.

CS: Yeah, to get people excited about under water again.

Coming up, a conversation with Senior Advisor to Oceana and Expedition Blue Planet filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau and Joel and Ethan Coen's Burn After Reading's intelligence officer, David Rasche.

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