Struggling to survive in the competitive and cut-throat worlds of Los Angeles and New York City can be a life-threatening risk, both personally and professionally. That continuous physical and emotional battle to not only protect your life, but also maintain your relationships and career, can be a consistent strenuous effort. That constant determination to fight and save yourself is intriguingly explored in the upcoming horror film, ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!,’ which is the anticipated second follow-up in the hit ‘Sharknado’ series. The franchise’s latest installment, which will premiere on Syfy on Wednesday night at 9/8c, was written by Thunder Levin and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, who both also worked on the previous two entries. The new sequel follows the series’ returning beloved characters, who are once again determined to fight back against the title killer animals, much like actor Ian Ziering and the rest of the cast is impressively determined to prove their commitments to reviving their performing careers.
‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’ follows Fin Shepard (Ziering) and his wife, April (Tara Reid), as they once again set out to out to save America from the man-eating sharks that attacked Los Angeles and New York City during deadly storms in the series’ first two installments. The couple is joined by several of their friends and new allies, including Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo), an L.A. bartender who survived being swallowed in the first movie; their daughter, Claudia (Ryan Newman); Fin’s father, Gil (David Hasselhoff); April’s mother, May (Bo Derek); and the President of the United States (Mark Cuban). The latest Sharknado is not only threatening Fin, April and their family and friends, but the entire east coast, which is in the eye of the storm. With shearing winds of teeth and death ravaging the Eastern Seaboard from Washington D.C. to Orlando, the group must now save the entire country.
Ziering generously took the time recently to sit down for a roundtable interview to talk about starring in ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’ during NBCUniversal’s New York Summer Press Day 2015 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Among other things, the actor discussed how Levin is so imaginative that with each installment, he creates scenarios and action sequences that are just as equally astonishing and amazing as the last entry; how as an actor, it’s more fun to do his own stunts, particularly since he’s athletic, but if he feels they’re too dangerous, he lets the professional stuntmen perform the sequences for him; and how he’d be willing to appear in a ‘Sharknado 4’ if Syfy greenlights another sequel, and how he’d like to have some of his former ‘90210’ co-stars, including Jason Priestley, Luke Perry and Brian Austin Green, join the franchise, particularly since the series thrives in part on celebrity cameos.
Question (Q): How did you increase the action for this third film, especially after the stunts that were included in the first two installments of the franchise?
Ian Ziering (IZ): We go to space, and take it to a new level. (laughs) We shot this film in Cape Canaveral, around the (Vehicles) Assembly Building and the launch pad. We had access to some incredible locations, because it seems like NASA’s a fan of the movies, too. (laughs) So it worked out pretty well.
Q: What did you originally think of the story for this film when you first read the script?
IZ: I was very excited, because our writer, Thunder Levin, is very creative and imaginative. Even with our second installment, I was wondering, how are you going to top the original? But we’ve never really tried to top what we’ve done before. Thunder creates new scenarios that are equally astonishing and amazing, because you can’t top chainsawing your way out of a shark. (laughs) So he didn’t waste the brainpower trying to figure that out, and instead came up with something that was equally ‘Jaws’-dropping. (laughs)
Q: Is that what played into Mark Cuban and Ann Coulter’s performances as the President and Vice-President?
IZ: Yes, Mark showed up on set and was very excited, because he’s a big fan of the movies. He loves acting, so this was an opportunity for him to sink his teeth into a project, (laughs) He did a great job-Mark Cuban is a bad-ass! We put hand grenades and shot guns in his hands, and we had him running. He played the President of the United States, with all of the intensity. It was great that I had the chance to work with him. We had a couple days to work together, and he’s such a fun guy.
Mark’s also so down-to-Earth. There was one moment where our director, Anthony C. Ferrante, was getting everyone involved in the scene, and there were sharks coming into the White House. Anthony told Mark, “You’re really upset about this-there are sharks destroying your house. It’s like you discovered that someone just stole half-a-million dollars from you.”
Then all of a sudden we heard Mark say, “I wouldn’t even notice it was missing.” If there was one cell of pompous attitude in Mark’s body, that comment would have gone horribly wrong. But there’s not, so we all started laughing so hard, because who can say that? (laughs) But he can, because he has so much money that he really wouldn’t notice if it was missing. It was such a great comment that stopped production, because we were all laughing so hard. We all love Mark, and it showed that he had such great humor.
Q: Are there any other surprising cameos in the movie?
IZ: There are so many cameos. I had friends who would visit me on the set, and then would end up in the film, which was a lot of fun. I reached out to Mike Tyson, and he was all set to be a part of the film. But unfortunately, he fell ill, so he wasn’t able to be in the movie.
It wasn’t just about cameos, as I also have a relationship with NASA. So I explored that aspect, to see if I could get us into their facilities, and that worked out.
While I’m an actor, I have also done some producing, because I want to do everything I can. I used all of my skills and resources to help make this movie be as great as it could possibly be.
Q: What was your favorite and over-the-top scene that you shot while you were filming?
IZ: I can’t really tell you without giving away a major story point. But let’s just say the movie’s aptly subtitled, ‘Oh Hell No!’ (laughs) I read the script and said, “Oh hell no! Really, we’re doing this?” Anthony was like, “Yes, we’re doing this.” I said, “You’re sick and twisted, but I love it. Let’s shoot it.”
Q: Did you do your own stunts for this film?
IZ: I did many of my own stunts, but there was one sequence where I let a professional stuntman step in to do. I didn’t really feel the need to fall off the roof of a tall building. When you see it, it’s a really quick shot, but then I crawl out from the fall. But I did jump between cars in traffic. It’s more fun to do my own stunts. If I felt they were too dangerous, I’d let the professionals do what they do. But I’m a pretty athletic and adventurous guy, so the stunts I did were all in the waters I swim in. (laughs)
Q: Did you experience any injuries while you were filming this one?
IZ: Well, there was a lot of running in this installment. The movie starts off with Fin Shepard running all throughout Washington, D.C., and those were a rough couple of days. I was running past iconic images throughout the city, such as the Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln Memorials, and the White House. That was probably the most strenuous experience on the film, because it was non-stop.
When I saw that the camera lens was pretty big, I knew I wasn’t starting from 20 feet away. Anthony was like, “I need you on the other side of the bridge, which is about half-a-mile away. I’m going to film you as you’re running across the bridge, and it’s going to be the opening sequence.” I was like, “Really?” He asked if I was okay with that, and I said “Yes, let’s do it.” Then he’d say, “Okay, in this next take, I need you to do it again.” We got a lot of similiar shots, so that Anthony could perfectly tell his story.
There was one injury, as a statue fell on my thumb. In one of the scenes, a bust of George Washington fell on me when I was on the ground. That gave me a black nail. But that’s as bad as it got.
Q: What would it take for you to sign onto ‘Sharknado 4,’ and how long do you think the franchise can last?
IZ: Syfy looks at this as a series, with each episode airing as a summer event. As long as the ratings continue to grow, and there’s a demand from the audience, the franchise will continue. I’ll be happy and proud to be a part of it for as long as it goes, until I get eaten by a shark. (laughs) But I’ve been eaten before, so it takes a lot more than that to bring a good man down.
Q: If you make another sequel, are there any actors you would like to join the franchise?
IZ: I would love to have Jason Priestley, Luke Perry and Brian Austin Green join. We could bust out at a Comic-Con.
Q: People would flip out. You can all be at the Peach Pit in the next film.
IZ: There is an homage to ‘90210’ in this film. We’ll see if people pick up on it. It’s a quick shot of something that’s a direct reference to the show. If you’re a true fan, you’ll get it really quickly. But it flashes by in a second.
Written by: Karen Benardello