Aron Ralston — the real life adventurer whose self-inflicted arm amputation is chronicled in Danny Boyle’s new film, “127 Hours” — visited Access Hollywood Live’s Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Wednesday to share the thoughts that flashed through his mind immediately after his right forearm was trapped and crushed by a falling boulder in a Utah canyon.
“It was an immediate knowledge — some part of me knew like, ‘Dude, you’re gonna have to cut your arm off,” Aron told Billy and Kit. “There was resistance there, but then there was acceptance. There was [the] understanding that everything else that I tried, I failed.”
“And then when I finally tried and tried and tried, I was defeated. The knife was too dull to cut through the bones,” he added. “So there was this epiphany in the final moments, in the 127th hour as it is, where I figured out that I can use the boulder to break the bones, and that’s when the boulder actually becomes the agent of my freedom, liberation.”
In the new film version of Aron’s story, the 35-year-old adventurer is played by James Franco, and Aron said James’ portrayal is nearly perfect.
“[James] portrays this character, me, with such an accuracy that even my family has said to me that after the first 15 minutes [of the film], they were no longer watching James in this role, they were watching me go through my experience,” Aron told Billy and Kit. “It’s a very authentic portrayal.”
The “Eat Pray Love” star prepared for the intense role by working closely with Aron, and watching the tapes the explorer made from inside the crevice where he was trapped.
“[James] asked a lot of questions,” Aron told Billy and Kit. “He wanted to know all the particulars and the logistics. We actually watched the real videotape that I had with me that I made while I was in the canyon trapped (these final messages to my family and my loved ones). He wanted to know all manner of things.”
Although Aron has seen the autobiographical film 10 times already, he said he is still overcome with emotion after every screening.
“[The amputation] is something that I’m able to go back and remember, yes, the intense experience of the entrapment, but most importantly, the actual euphoria of getting out and back to my family,” he told Billy and Kit. “It’s actually the depictions of my family [that bring tears to my eyes]. It’s this triumphant march of like, getting back to life.”
Access caught up with James Franco at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday, and the star said that (director) Danny Boyle strongly emphasized that he didn’t want Aron to be portrayed as a “superhero,” but rather as a normal person with whom the audience would be able to relate.
“You end up leaving the theater thinking, “OK, could I do [cut off my own arm]?’” James told Access. “Yeah, probably. Why? Because we all have a will to live and what’s underneath that is… you know, the connection to our loved ones.
“And that’s really what the character finds when he goes to that canyon,” James added.
“127 Hours” opens in select theaters on Friday, November 5.
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