Dolphin Tale 2 stars return to Clearwater for promotional meet and greet

By Virginia Johnson, Entertainment Reporter/Host
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
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Harry Connick Jr. is a joker and Morgan Freeman is the “Voicemail King.”

These are just a few tidbits we picked up while dishing with the young stars from "Dolphin Tale 2," out in theaters on September 12.

Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Austin Highsmith took part in a media meet and greet with "Dolphin Tale 2" Executive Producer and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Director David Yates.

The group of stars came to Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure in downtown Clearwater to begin promoting the sequel to the popular 2011 "Dolphin Tale" movie.

The entire cast returns for the sequel, including Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson.

Hightower reprises her role at Phoebe, Winter’s trainer, and Gamble and Zuehlsdoff as Sawyer and Hazel, the two kids who fought to save Winter.

Of course Winter the Dolphin, who defied the odds and survived without a tail, plays herself.

And the newest addition to the movie’s story line is Hope. Hope is like Winter, a real rescued dolphin who plays herself in the movie.

The movie revolves around the relationship between the two young dolphins after the death of Winter’s elderly pool mate and surrogate mother Panama. Panama the dolphin died in real life as the crew prepared for filming.

The cast members say the set was a family atmosphere with a reunion feel. And it was filled with lot of fun.

Harry Connick Jr. tried to make fellow actors laugh during taping.

"I think it was his goal from day one was to try to make us break because that guy is so funny, so witty too," said Gamble.

And Morgan Freeman made a voicemail greeting for Highsmith.

"So when you call Austin,” said Zuehlsdorff, “It goes 'Hello, you've reached Austin Highsmith.' It's Morgan Freeman!"

“My dad calls my phone daily now to listen to it," laughed Highsmith.

And of course the group says dolphin stars Winter and now Hope remain the heart of this story of survival and inspiration.

These young stars are slated to return to the Clearwater area in August, along with the rest of the cast, to promote "Dolphin Tale 2."