Lyndie Irons: Behind the Andy Movie

Lyndie Irons. Image: Joli

Lyndie Irons is a strong and beautiful women. The wife of surfing icon Andy Irons, has been through so much in recent years.  Coming to terms with the loss of her husband (almost 8 years ago) and bringing their child into the world without meeting his dad, would have taken it’s toll on most people.  Yet Lyndie carried on, and despite the internal turmoil she must have felt, she always carried herself with grace and poise.

Then this project.  The tell-all movie of Andy’s life and ultimately, his tragic death that had Lyndie pour over every detail again and again, in order to put together a truthful and accurate account.

The Australian premier’s of Andy’s movie – Kissed by God – took place at select venues across the country through July and August,  and Lyndie and her son Axel travelled around Australia to speak at each of the screenings.  From all accounts, the premiere’s were a great success (The Business of Surf attended the Gold Coast event where 1100 tickets sold out), and it was here that Lyndie’s bravery and strength really shone through.  Fronting thousands of people, she answered questions about the movie and the process of pulling it together, while also sharing a laugh (and a bunch of memories) with a few of their closest friends on stage.

Throughout the process, which has no doubt been a cathartic one, Lyndie has found new purpose in the Andy Irons Foundation – a testament to her kind soul and deep desire to help people who suffer like Andy did.  She has also found love again, and a new season has dawned for her and Axel, one that is secure and driven by passion and deeper meaning.

We were privileged to chat to Lyndie about the movie, the process, the foundation and life from here on out.

Enjoy the interview.

Congrats on what you’ve done with the Movie.  Why was it so important for you to get Andy’s story out there?

Thank you! People were curious about Andy and his death and I wanted the truth and facts to be told. Andy was an accomplished athlete and remarkable man that was battling addiction and mental illness. It most important for me to share his story knowing that it would help people.

Initially, many were thinking it was going to be a fluffed up version of the story, but what came across was a raw and real account of Andy’s life and struggles…

Honestly, I was so scared to tell his complete truth.

I knew I needed to but it was a process always wondering in the back of my head “am I doing the right by Andy??” But Andy ALWAYS wanted to tell his truth and his struggles so I always felt his support.

How did you and Bruce make the choice on who would make the film?

It was my decision but Bruce has always supported me know matter what. Andy and I spent every winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a snowboard trip with Billabong and we met these amazing filmmakers Todd and Steve Jones that founded Teton Gravity Research.

Lyndie, Steve Jones and Enich Harris at the Gold Coast Premiere. Photo: Joli

Anyways long story short we have always been friends and Axel and I continued to go to Jackson to snowboard every winter. And along with the help of Enich Harris we decided to make Andy’s film and I knew they were perfect.

What was the most difficult part of pulling the movie together for you personally?

Everything was difficult. I don’t know how I got through it all. I was an absolute mess with tears streaming down my face every day for years. There was a lot of laughter through the tears as well but it was painful. But all worth it as I think the film is so Andy.

Lyndie sharing with friends at the GC Premiere. Image: Joli

We always knew Andy was a popular surfer around the world… people loved how he always wore his heart on his sleeve and he was obviously an incredible surfer… but has it surprised you the amount of support the movie has had around the world so far?

Complete shock, honestly! (Laughs) I was gearing up for war months in advance of the first movie release, because sadly Andy was a punching bag in the surf world. He would read stuff about himself online and would be absolutely crushed on what people would say about him.

Nobody really knew his struggles and demons so people just judged.

So I was thinking people were going to do the same when the film came out but it has been the complete opposite. The truth always sets you free. The Irons family has received way more love than I even knew possible. And people are falling even more in love with Andy and his truly remarkable self.

Andy’s loss to Kelly in J-Bay 2005 was a telling blow. Image: Joli

Although it’s been almost 8 years since Andy passed away, is it still tough revisiting the story at every Premiere?

Yes, always painful and I was a part of every detail of the making of the film and honestly the pain has never gone away.

Looking back, (and hindsight is always 20/20) … do you think there is anything the sport, or sponsors could or should have done earlier to get Andy help?

That’s a tough question because its yes and no. No, because the sponsors did the best that they could at the time. Nobody is to blame. Yes, because back when Andy was on tour things were a lot looser. But now thanks to Kelly Slater there is a psychologist on tour because of Andy’s passing.

And I believe even though I’m more removed, the surfing industry has changed for the better and there is not as much tolerance as there used to be.

The type of form that took Andy to three world titles. Image: Joli

You said at the Gold Coast event that the movie had already had a positive impact on people. That must be very gratifying for you and the Irons family?

The absolute best! I lived there for a good portion of time and I have a really tight group of friends there. So it was a very emotional showing to say the least.

Can you tell us a little more about the Andy Irons Foundation you have set up?  What does it stand for and what are you hoping to achieve through it?

Our mission is to celebrate the legacy of the surfing legend Andy Irons through vital and innovative programs that alleviate mental illness, substance abuse and learning disabilities among our youth… creating healthy, uplifted and supportive communities.

What kind of programmes will you be initiating through the foundation?

We have so many projects in the works that I will be able to share really soon!

How can people support or help the foundation?

Please go to www.andyironsfoundation.org and donate. Thank you!

Billabong continue to produce limited AI Forever product… will this provide a source of income for the foundation going forward?

Andy’s product has been income for Axel and I and I am forever grateful for Billabong for keeping Andy’s legacy going. They are a wonderful company that I can truly call family and I have been a part of the Bong family for 16 solid years. I would love to be able to work with them in the future with AIF for sure.

Sharing a quiet moment with Bruce and Axel at the Billabong Pipe Masters, in memory of AI. Image: Joli

What advice can you give anyone that is close to someone who might be suffering from bipolar or drug/medicine addiction?

To reach out and know that you are not alone and that there is help. There is so much shame associated with those 2 subjects and my goal with the foundation is to lift that stigma off and normalize it so that people are not scared to ask for help.

Everyone deserves love, and you’ve found love again in your relationship with Pat Tenore.  How has it been having Pat by your side to walk through this project?

I honestly not sure how I got so lucky to have Pat come into my life. We started dating while making the film and he has only been so darn supportive and an absolute rock.

I think personally I was able to find love again because I was able to start processing Andy’s death and find peace with all during the making of the movie.

No one wishes what happened to Andy and your family on anyone, but for you now, and particularly for Axel, there must be great comfort in knowing what the next chapter of your lives looks like?

This one made me tear up. My sweet Axel was born into tragedy and not being able to ever meet his Dad but he is a wonderful, happy lil’ guy that has always kept me moving forward no matter what.

I honestly never thought I would be here where I am today openly talking about Andy, starting AIF and finding love.

Axel is so lucky to have Pat as a positive role model in his life and our next chapter is looking pretty sweet.

Have you found that setting up the Foundation has given you new purpose and motivation?

There are no words to explain how much purpose it has given me. I thank Andy for getting me here and starting the foundation in his name.

I feel I am honouring him best and honestly there is nothing more important in life than helping others and giving back.

What are the plans for the movie once the initial premieres are screened around the world?

It will be available for purchase, but my goal in 2019 is to take the movie around to schools to bring awareness and have a curriculum around it.

I’m sure there are probably too many, but anyone you want to thank at this point in time?

Bruce, Danielle and Phil Irons for being so strong and so brave to let the guards down and painfully reopen up about Andy. All our wonderful friends for taking the time to do all the interviews. Pat for being my rock. My manager and dear friend Blair Marlin for helping me get to the point of making the film. Justin Fann, Enich Harris, Steve and Todd Jones for making a wonderful film.

I will be forever thankful.

And finally, what’s on the agenda for you for the rest of year?

This question made me smile. Lots…

 

 

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