Bonnie Stoll In ‘Nyad,’ Explained: Is She Based On A Real-Life Person? Where Is Bonnie Now?


It is great to see Bonnie Stoll in Netflix’s biographical drama Nyad as a supporting character, but then it would be an injustice to her legacy. The dream might have been Diana Nyad’s, but had Bonnie not been there with her, she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it. You know it is very rare that an individual makes someone else’s dream their own, but Bonnie and Diana’s comradeship became a testament to the fact that if and when it happens, then greatness cannot elude you for long if you put your energies in the right direction. Being Bonnie was not easy because that madness of restlessness didn’t come naturally to her, and she was pretty content with the life she had. But her knack for achieving something that was way beyond the limits put her name in the list of great coaches. So, let’s find out how Bonnie reacted when she found out what Diana wanted to do, what made her stay by Diana’s side, and how she made sure that her partner in crime achieved what she had set out for.

Spoiler Alert

Is Bonnie based on a real person?

The character of Bonnie is based on the real-life coach, friend, and former partner of Diana Nyad. Though there are some creative liberties taken by the makers in her portrayal, mainly for elevating the entertainment quotient and weaving an intriguing narrative, the essence of the person that Bonnie was, has been kept alive. Jodie Foster does a brilliant job bringing Bonnie to life on screen and inculcates certain nuances in her performance that give you the idea that she has not only understood the kind of person she was but also the kind of relationship dynamics that existed between her and Diana. The real-life Bonnie was of the opinion that the makers had done justice to the extraordinary journey of Diana Nyad and depicted her relationship with her with a lot of precision.

Why did Bonnie support Diana?

Bonnie and Diana used to spend all their time together, and the former had seen her friend getting a bit more restless than usual of late. Bonnie knew that Diana had started feeling that she hadn’t accomplished everything that she should have, and the fact that time was passing by rather quickly was making her even more impatient. But Bonnie didn’t address the issue, and something told us that she knew where they were heading and that facing the fact that Diana wanted to swim again was an inevitable reality from which she wouldn’t be able to escape. When Diana revealed to Bonnie that she once again wanted to try swimming from Cuba to Florida, the latter made it very clear that she wouldn’t be a part of this madness. But Diana convinced Bonnie to give her one chance, and she would prove to her that she still had that zeal and physical strength in her. Diana swam for approximately 4 hours on the first attempt, and she was greatly disappointed. Bonnie wished that her passion had died out somehow, but she knew that was not going to happen.

Diana swam for more than 8 hours at a stretch, and she told Bonnie that what she wanted to do could actually be accomplished even at her age. Bonnie always knew deep down, even though she was in denial for the longest time, that she was going to be a part of Diana’s quest, no matter how bleak the chances of success were. When Bonnie came on board, Diana felt relieved, and though she didn’t say it out loud, she knew she would have never been able to even come close to her target if she didn’t have her friend by her side. Bonnie had always done everything together with Diana, and at such a crucial moment, her heart did not allow her to leave her behind. Moreover, Bonnie was probably the only person who believed that Diana was not delusional to think that she could swim through those 100-odd miles. Bonnie believed in Diana, and a chunk of the latter’s confidence originated from that belief. They worked best in coordination with each other, and it was as personal for Bonnie as it was for Diana. Bonnie was not coming on board to realize someone else’s dream, but it had been her wish, too, to see Diana achieve the impossible. Bonnie was selfless, and Diana going after her dreams made her feel like she had achieved something great in her life. Bonnie, too, wanted to amount to something, and this was a shot she knew she wouldn’t want to miss and then regret later.

What made Bonnie change her mind after she left?

Diana made several consecutive attempts, but after her third try, Bonnie was not ready to let her go back to the ocean once again. She had seen the kind of risk she was putting herself in every time, and she felt that Diana was way over her head to not be able to see that what she was trying to undertake was suicidal. Diana had not listened to John Bartlett, her navigator, and she had put her life at a terrible risk. Bonnie saw that Diana’s madness to complete the distance was taking over her prudence, and that was why she told her that she wouldn’t be a part of her quest. But some time passed, and Diana told Bonnie that she was going to give it a shot once again and try reaching Florida, and she would make sure that she took all the precautions. Bonnie just couldn’t resist not being a part of her team. They had dreamed this together.

Bonnie knew that when Diana was in the water, she would need constant motivation as her mind started playing tricks on her, and in that moment, it became very necessary to have someone around who understood her and knew how to drive her. A time came while Diana was in the water when she lost every ounce of energy in her body. She couldn’t see, she couldn’t breathe, and she just didn’t have anything left inside her core to move forward. That’s when Bonnie jumped into the water and asked Diana to take one step at a time. She stayed there till Diana came back on track and slowly and steadily started moving towards the shore. Bonnie and the entire team had tears in their eyes when Diana touched base, and the feeling that they had proved everybody wrong and achieved something that was unimaginable from the word go overwhelmed them.

Where is Bonnie now?

Bonnie, after the Cuba to Florida swim, went on to co-found “EverWalk,” where, together with Diana, she motivated people to opt for a healthy lifestyle and challenge their limits, but most of all, through the initiative, they wanted to tell people that nothing is impossible. Bonnie, to date, is very humble about her contribution to Diana’s quest, and she always says in all her interviews that it was Diana’s dedication and mindset that made her achieve the impossible. Jodie Foster spent some time with the real-life Bonnie Stoll to imbibe her character and see the kind of person she was. The actor calls the experience enriching and says what she got to know about the nitty-gritty details of the relationship that the real-life Bonnie shared with her partner, Diana Nyad. Bonnie Stoll was ecstatic after she watched the Netflix film, and she says that it felt like she was seeing herself on the screen. Bonnie wants to keep working for society and keep inspiring people by sharing her own experiences and by continuing all the good work she has been doing with her initiative, EverWalk.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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