Shark Snuffing with the Sharknado 2 Cast!
By: Lynn Barker
After the mega-success of the campy TV movie “Sharknado”, mostly due to fans pushing it viral on social media, stars Tara Reid and Ian Ziering looked forward to returning to fight flying sharks in New York. For those going “Huh?”, the first film presented a freak hurricane that hits L.A. causing man-eating sharks to be scooped up in water spouts and flooding the city with shark-infested seawater. Surfer Fin (Ian) and pals had to rescue Fin’s estranged wife April (Tara). When a tornado scoops up the sharks, it’s quite a bizarre battle.
In “Sharknado 2”, a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and endangering New York’s most cherished, famous landmarks. It’s up to Fin and April, with the aid of Skye (played by Vivica A. Fox whom you might know from the popular movie Independence Day) to save the Big Apple.
The cast plus director Anthony C. Ferrante, tell us about why they wanted to return, their shock at the big success of the first film and more.
Q: Can you talk about the CGI sharks in the film? Was there a lot of acting in front of a green screen?
- Tara Reid: I think when people see the sharks they think there’s a lot more green screen than there really was. If you were acting with sharks that were coming at you, of course nothing was coming at you but you were still outside in the city not (in front of) a green screen. (For actors) it was just filling in the blanks and kind of believing in the director. He promises sharks, so you react to the sharks as best as your imagination could make them.
- Vivica Fox: And I also like to give credit to our director, Anthony (Ferrante) because he was very descriptive in what was happening and what kind of sharks were coming at us.
- Anthony C. Ferrante: Well, and Ian had some green screen stuff, but Tara’s right; most of it’s practical (on set). When we get into the green screen it gets into the more complicated stuff like when Ian’s flying to the sky and everything. Man, Ian is an action star. You put him in that harness and he’s there for, like, I think an hour just doing acrobatic things.
- I had to do some pick-up stuff last year where I was a double and I was in the harness for, like, 20 minutes and I was, like, in pain. So a lot of kudos to Ian for managing those harness rigs.
- Ian Ziering: Thanks, Anthony. , working in a virtual environment where at first as an actor you’re really doing something that in the instant feels like an action but once you see the completed movie it’s actually a reaction.
- So what’s nice is when you have a director who can help tell the story, help illuminate what’s happening around you so you can have trust in the fact that whatever you’re doing is not going to be ridiculous. Your actions are going to be substantiated because it all gets filled in afterwards. It’s all about having the trust.
- Tara: Yes, absolutely.
- Anthony: The first movie was a big learning curve for everybody. After going through the motions of this stuff, you really start understanding what can be done. And we have a pretty amazing visual effects team. They did over 700 visual effects shots and that was in less than two months.
Q: When you shot the first “Sharknado” movie did you have any idea it was going to become this massive pop culture event? And why do you think it has resonated with so many people?
- Tara: We definitely didn’t know it was going to become what happened. It was definitely shocking for all of us. We had no clue signing on to the movie that it would be this phenomenon. So, it was a great and kind of shocking experience.
- Anthony: It’s hard with these things. You just try to make the best project possible and what happened on this thing, it’s lightening in a bottle. We didn’t tell people to show up and make it a Twitter phenomenon. It just happened. And that’s kind of cool.
Q: What can we expect from the second movie? More sharks? Lots of action?
- Vivica: And a lot of cameos. I mean I was really pleasantly surprised how many people wanted to be a part of this film when they saw it. Famous faces just keep popping up. And it’s just an awesome surprise. We had Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and lots more that you have to stay tuned to see.
- Anthony: I think the key with the second movie is we wanted to kind of amp up what we did in the first movie. We pretty much had the same kind of schedule in this one and we were trying to do twice as much without a huge budget. But we have a lot of the imagination from our writers, from our cast and from our crew and producers and Syfy to let us play in this playground.
- Syfy also said “we’ll set it in summer but any weird weather when you're shooting in February make it part of the story”, which liberated us. So we didn’t have to go, we have to hide the snow. And that really adds to the look and feel of the movie. They also said “shoot this movie in New York” and I think that makes this movie look gargantuan and it feels authentic.
- Tara: And I think New York City has its own personality so adding the personality of New York into this film really added a magical element. I went to school there. It was like a really fun feeling to shoot at home basically. Like, for me, all my friends still live there. I have so many memories on each one of the streets because I walked going to school.
Q: In the first film you put a shark pretty much everywhere you could think of. So for this film, where else can you put a shark?
- Tara: I mean they could go anywhere. They could go anywhere from inside hospitals to the Met Stadium to subways to the street to you name it, a shark could be there. The Empire State Building.
- Anthony: People get hung up on the fact that sharks can’t exist in a tornado and tornados can’t do what they do and all that stuff. Hey, it’s a Sharknado. It’s like our Frankenstein, our Freddy Krueger, our Jason. You don’t question Jason getting his neck chopped off half a million times and then getting shot and getting back up again. That’s part of the mythology. The Sharknado is our villain and it does what we tell it to do.
- If it shoots through a car window, yes, a shark can’t do that but a Sharknado can. We were able to do a lot of crazy stuff because we were freed by the fact that we could do anything.
Q: Did any of you add anything to your characters that may not have originally been scripted for you?
- Tara: I think that everyone added a certain aspect to their character. But we all had a very good rapport with Anthony and if there was something that we thought was missing, we found that place, which was exciting. So I think every character got to go farther and we took risks.
- Anthony: We also softened Tara’s character in this a lot too because we wanted to see the relationship between you and Fin.
Q: And Vivica, what was it about the film that made you want to be a part of it?
- Vivica: Well, I was saying, “wow, I need a little bit of Syfy in my life and action”. And wham, there came “Sharknado 2”. I was really presently surprised when I got the offer to play Skye. I hadn’t worked with Ian since back in the day with 90210 and Tara, we had known each other for many, many years. So the opportunity to work with both of them and hearing the major success of the first Sharknado it just seemed like a win-win situation for me.
- Anthony: We also changed the character a lot when you came on board. We made the Skye character Fin’s high school sweetheart. We were trying to show this reuniting of Fin and April but we wanted an obstacle and, man, you guys sold that! It was a blessing to have you on that film because it just gave us so much more depth.
Q: Ian and Tara, when you have a movie that is successful like Sharknado was, sometimes actors will be reluctant to do a sequel. Did you guys have any second thoughts or were you on board from the get go?
- Ian: I was on board right from the get go. What’s so nice about Sharknado is that it really is not competing with itself and the bar that it set isn’t that unattainable. This was a low budget independent film, a very campy nature. So really the only way to screw it up would be to change it. And the brilliance of “Sharknado 2” is the fact that it’s more of the same. It’s a similar situation in a new environment. And if people liked one they’re going to love two.
- Josh Maloni: And Tara?
- Tara: I agree with Ian exactly. When I read the first one and went out to dinner that night with my friends, I told them I thought the script was hilarious. Yes, sharks are flying in Beverly Hills and maiming people and jumping out of pools. My friends were laughing so hard. They’re like, “are you kidding me? This is amazing, you’ll have to do this”. I signed on, never knowing it would become the phenomenon it did and people really enjoyed it. And then we learned from the first one and I think made it even better.
Q: What did the two of you like about working with one another?
- Tara: I love working with Ian. He’s very giving actor. If something’s not working he makes it work. I like him as a person and as an actor.
- Ian: I was very lucky to work with just a talented group. Tara and everybody, Vivica, another consummate professional. We knew we had to get our shots every day and we did. Time is money. In this film we didn’t have a lot of time and it’s great when you’re working with people that understand that. Everyone came prepared, and we actually made it happen.
Q: You get to do action hero things that people don’t usually get to do. You get to have chainsaws and all kinds of things to fight these sharks with. Was that just plain fun?
- Ian: Yes. I’ve always been a big fan of action-adventure and Syfy. And the fact that I’ve gotten to play an action hero in a science-fiction movie is really the best of both worlds. I’m a very lucky person.
Q: Did “Sharknado” start with the title and then you developed the story?
- Anthony: (Jacob Haren) and I, my occasional writing partner, we had pitched a whole bunch of titles to Syfy channel many years ago and one of them was “Sharknado”. Nothing happened with it but we both loved the title so much, just kind of tickled us. I put a reference to it in “Leprechaun’s Revenge” and the Syfy team then wanted to make a “Sharknado” movie and they paired up with the Asylum and I had just done a film for Asylum called Hansel and Gretel and then it came full circle where I was doing “Sharknado”.
- I liked the title a lot because it was silly. You would tell people the title and they would just start laughing. You just start coming up with ridiculous things. And so that was the genesis.
Q: From an acting perspective, obviously the film has a lot of humor in it. Do you guys play it seriously or try to make it funny?
- Vivica: I definitely played my character serious and then I think, like, in the moments and what were fighting against and the elements, then the comedy ensued. So I took it very serious that a Sharknado was coming and we were there to stop it.
- Tara: Yes, I mean the situation seems so crazy, but you had to play it serious because if you didn’t, if we were playing it laughing the whole time then the storyline wouldn’t even make sense. I think you really do have to commit to your character.
- Anthony: The only people that are allowed to be funny are your comic relief characters, which are like, Judah Friedland. But it has to be played straight. You have to be in character and take the situation seriously. And I think that’s part of the charm.
- Tara: The vibe on the set was great. I mean we got lucky, everyone truly got along in the movie and had a great time with each other. And I think that shows.
- Vivica: The only element that was kind of crazy was just that it was really, really cold and there were sometimes you would be doing the scene and getting out the dialogue could be a little tough. But we would just go warm up and then go back at it again.
Q: Other than cold, was there a different vibe on set than the first one?
- Ian: Yes. In making “Sharknado 2” there was a greater amount of ease about it because (for the first one) I didn’t have the experience of what was possible. After seeing what the visual effects artists were able to accomplish, what Anthony was able to do with the script, going into “Sharknado 2” I had a higher level of trust.
Q: The performances look pretty physical. Did you have to train to fight imaginary sharks?
- Ian: No but it’s only because there was no money in the budget for a stunt double. It really wasn’t too crazy. I mean jumping down a few stairs but the toughest thing was dealing with that chainsaw. It must have been a 45 pound chain saw and, rather than swinging it through the air, I would steady it and let the sharks fly through it this time. Also, having to pull the chain to start it, that’s not easy to do either. I had to keep that going.
Q: How did the actors prepare their reactions to the “not really there” sharks?
- Tara: I think, in the very beginning we didn’t know exactly what the sharks would look like and how good the special effects were going to be. So it was a lot scarier. You really just had to trust Anthony that these sharks were going to be there and the size of the shark and how it’s coming at you so you weren’t really sure. Am I looking at the right place? Am I doing it right? Is it a big shark? Is it a little shark? And, then once we saw the first one and what a great job they did it really gave you all the faith to just trust him completely in the second one. And you really see the difference and a lot more sharks and it works.
- Vivica: Well, I had done some green screen before with Independence Day. Then I had done a lot of training when I did Kill Bill. So the action stuff for me wasn’t difficult at all and I was just really, really grateful that I started working with Ian and he was, like, so into it. He’s taking this serious, we’re doing this serious. And then the director, Anthony, was just so wonderful and descriptive in what was going on and what kind of sharks were attacking us and the elements. So that helped me out a lot.
- Ian: Just working in a virtual environment where there really is nothing there, you really have to trust in the director “These are just bumps on a green screen log but they are actually going to be sharks that you’re going to be stepping on the backs of as you run across the street”.
Q: The fans really reacted to the first movie on social media. Do you think that there would have been a sequel to “Sharknado” if there wasn’t social media involved?
- Tara: No, probably not. I mean social media is really what took it to the next level with getting 5,000 tweets per minute and then it just kind of exploded. So, social media took it to a worldwide level that we just weren’t expecting. So it had a huge impact on the film.
Check out “Sharknado 2” Wednesday, July 30th on the Syfy Channel.
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