Hunt plays Hamilton's mum in the upcoming biopic Soul Surfer and admits she thought she was a good surfer until she paddled out with the shark-bite victim.
She says, "I surfed with her - my boyfriend, myself and her - and we surfed and we caught a wave together and the two of us were thinking, 'We're pretty fantastic...' and I found out later is that she had turned and was surfing in backwards because it was such a ridiculously small break (wave)... She was, like, filing her nails."
The movie star reveals Hamilton has become one of her heroines after refusing to let a shark attack, which claimed her arm, get in the way of her passion for surfing.
Hunt adds, "One month later she was back in the water and competing a few months after that.
"I went out with her and I was going, 'How is she not going in circles? How is that not happening?' She's a goddess."
And her movie husband Dennis Quaid is equally impressed with the brave youngster - he signed on to play her dad just days after watching her talk about the shark attack on TV.
He says, "I remember thinking she was remarkable and then I got the call about three days later: 'Do you want to play Bethany Hamilton's father?' 'Erm, yeah!'"