Ian Ziering didn’t expect to find himself fighting off sharks at this stage of his career, but the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum will happily keep doing it until he’s lunch for one of the computer-generated beasts. Ziering even tells the Los Angeles Times that he's happy to do 20 more Sharknado movies if he can keep himself off the menu.
Sharknado 2: The Second One, which airs July 30 on Syfy Channel, is without a doubt one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the summer. The first installment about the terrifying (albeit fictional) predator-and-weather phenomenon was a social media smash. Its popularity on Twitter is what allowed the sequel to attract major cameos from the likes of Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, Kelly Osbourne, Vivica Fox, and Matt Lauer.
We spoke to Ziering about the challenges of acting against a giant fake shark, the joy of sci-fi shlock, and just how far sharknadoes have seeped into our culture...even though they're not a real thing (spoiler alert?).
Were you nervous about returning to Sharknado?
"There’s a lot less trepidation for me returning to the second movie. With the first, I felt like I was jumping into the abyss. The script had so many holes in it that were left to be filled by visual effects. It concerned me, working in a low budget arena, that there wouldn’t be enough money for quality content. I wasn’t sure if I would be battling Avatar-quality computer graphics (C.G.) or Sid and Marty Croft-quality C.G. So knowing what they were capable of it was much easier to embrace."
Why do you think it became so big in the U.S.?
"It’s become an adjective, not just a noun. It’s been talked about in courtrooms, in civic environments where politicians and constituents were asked if they were protected against sharknado, if it was to happen. There’ve been sports teams that have achieved sharknado status. It’s become part of the Urban Dictionary. It’s part of the vernacular. It’s like you’re sharknado of a moment."
How hard is it acting against a giant shark?
"You had to trust the director. Where I had my moments of reservations about this script, I also had points of am I going to trust this director when he says, ‘There’s a big shark coming at you, look scared!' How big is that going to be? Because from a production standpoint, you’re putting forth an action, but from an audience’s perspective, it becomes a reaction when they add C.G. later. And, when you don’t know the level of that C.G., you really have to, again, trust the director. But, when we were doing all these crazy moves in the first Sharknado, the trust was well earned, and Anthony painted in all these actions and all these sharks that really sold whatever actions that we were portraying. He turned them into believable actions."
How do you keep a straight face?
"It’s acting naturally in an imaginary circumstance, and we couldn’t laugh at the words. You just distance yourself from your own reality. If you’re dealing with a sharknado, the absurd is no longer the absurd. So, with all the dedication and professionalism we approach any other role, it’s now playing the ability to act naturally in that situation."
Did you grow up on cheap sci-fi movies like this?
"I used to love Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. I’m going back. I’m 10 years older than my brothers. We used to watch Baywatch — it kind of formed the taste of what I like. Getting to do a little bit of that in Sharknado 2, where it’s not obvious slapstick but it’s, again, a ridiculous scenario in an imaginary circumstance. And, if you just allow yourself to suspend disbelief, we couldn’t wink at the camera or yuck it up cause it would fall apart. Every day it was like, 'Please god, let him deliver a movie.' I want to work again. I got babies. This could have gone horribly wrong."