Bindi Irwin follows dad's "wild" footsteps into film

Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:42pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She's the spitting image of her late father, has inherited his passion for wildlife, and now 11-year-old Bindi Irwin is following "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin's footsteps into Hollywood-style movies.

Bindi makes her feature film acting debut in "Free Willy: Escape from Pirates Cove," being released Tuesday on DVD as the fourth movie based on the 1990's franchise about a young boy helping free an Orca trapped in captivity.

"Pirates Cove," however, is a new story about an Australian girl (Irwin) helping a baby Orca trapped at her grandfather's theme park on the shores of South Africa.

Growing up with a larger-than-life personality like Australian adventurer Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 after a stingray attack, seems like a natural evolution for Bindi.

She came into this world camera-ready when her father filmed her birth. Growing up, she often was featured on his shows such as "The Crocodile Hunter" and "The Croc Files" on U.S. TV network Animal Planet. For a while, Bindi even had her own kids documentary series, "Bindi the Jungle Girl."

At his funeral, in front of a crowd of 5,000 people and 300 million TV viewers around the world, Bindi, then 8, delivered an impassioned speech about the daddy she called "my hero."

"He's still my hero," Bindi told Reuters. "He taught me about documentary filming and to be comfortable around cameras. I used that during the filming of this movie because I wasn't scared to be around cameras."

While her late father's early instructions helped her feel at ease, it was her "Free Willy" co-star Beau Bridges -- who plays her grandfather, Gus -- who helped Bindi to begin laying the foundation for the building blocks of acting.   Continued...

<p>Bindi Irwin poses for photographers at the black tie gala in Los Angeles January 19, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>