Nathan Gamble entered his teens as an accomplished movie star.
The 13-year-old launched his acting career in 2006 with a role in "Babel," an international drama about human interaction. He's since starred in an adaption of Stephen King's horror story "The Mist" and portrayed Commissioner James Gordon's son in the Batman epic "The Dark Knight." His latest film, "Dolphin Tale," is out now on DVD and finds the performer playing a youth who finds his place in the world healing an injured dolphin.
"I'm absolutely blessed on what I've gotten so far with acting," Gamble said. "Each movie set has something new to learn. The trick is asking yourself what you'd do if you were in the same predicament as your character. It feels great."
Gamble plays Sawyer Nelson in "Dolphin Tale," starring as a fatherless Florida boy brought closer to others by a dolphin he saves from a crab trap. The animal is then relocated to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where doctors dub it Winter and amputate her tail following an infection. Gamble's character becomes its caretaker, and before long, he's protecting Winter while doctors race to design her prosthetic tail. It's a role, Gamble said, where actor and animal benefit from each other.
"My character is someone who never gives up," he said. "He starts off as someone who before he meets Winter, he's shy and lonely and she helps him overcome that. Despite the fact he lacks a father, Winter shows him he can survive and still offer something on this planet."
Gamble said "Dolphin Tale" retells a true story and that he worked with the actual dolphin the film is based on. Weighed down for scenes underwater, he said his struggle to keep up with Winter posed his biggest challenge during filming. That's no small feat, he said, given the film also features actors like Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr., and Ashley Judd.
"I was very nervous as I'd never even seen a dolphin in person before," Gamble recalled. "You can't just walk up to them and pat them on the head. Winter was always such a strong swimmer and I always felt like I was competing with her. She'd always try to get just a little bit ahead of me."
Gamble said Winter's struggle to readjust following a lost limb has inspired hundreds of humans facing the same problem. The animal's story is so appealing, he said, as it shows the value of perseverance despite difficult odds.
"Winter has had an impact on millions of lives," he said. "It was an eye-opener working with Winter as she was so intelligent and had her own personality. She taught me that we might go through difficult problems physically, socially or economically, but that we shouldn't give up on hope."
Gamble said that much like his "Dolphin Tale" character, he's found that family can give people the support they need in life. He said he now encourages others to stay close with their loved ones in all that they pursue, even if it seems impossible.
"Family is forever and I rely on mine so much," he said. "They keep me hoisted to the ground and make sure I don't get a big head about this. They're such a blessing."