It’s happening again. America (and your twitter feed) is about to be hit by another ‘nado of sharks, and this time it’s devouring the entire Eastern Seaboard, from Washington D.C. to Orlando, Florida. Franchise headliners Tara Reid and Ian Ziering return as the married shark-dispatching duo April Wexler and Fin Sheperd, alongside fan-favorite badass Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo), who returns to the Selachimorphic slaughterfest after sitting out the second movie.
While visiting the set of Sharknado 3 on location at Universal Studios Florida, I joined in a group interview with Tara Reid to chat about all things shark. She chatted about watching her character, who literally wrote the book on how to survive a sharknado, evolve from weakling to fearless shark hunter, how to survive in the event of a sudden shark storm, what exactly a Jedward is (it’s an Irish pop duo), getting hip on new forms of social media, and the frenzied movie magic that makes Sharknado a pop culture phenomenon. Check out the full interview below.
How are you liking Orlando?
TARA REID: You know what? Now I’m really liking it. It’s nice. It’s warm.
It is warm.
REID: When we started it was freezing here. They said it was the coldest weather they had in 30 years.
It still probably wasn’t near as cold as the Northerners experience.
REID: No, but you know what it was? The wind here is so strong – and I swear in every Sharknado 1, 2 and 3 — the first one we did the scene where it’s drowning the house but we actually filmed it in a pool, a huge Olympic sized pool. In the middle of it they put the water up to here. They built a set so that the living room was in … It looked like a house but really it was built in the pool. They didn’t realize it was going to be freezing that night and they didn’t heat the water, so we were freezing cold. We had to jump in there. It’s the first scene when my boyfriend dies, when the shark eats him. We had to do that scene, and Cassie and I were just shaking, shivering, freezing to death.
The second one we do in New York and in New York it’s the biggest blizzards ever at the time. We had to shut the set down. People are falling around from the snow. I’m like, you got to be kidding me. Then the third one, I’m so excited to shoot in Orlando because it’s going to be warm. Are you kidding me? The coldest … What is going on? It always ends up … It’s going to be in Antarctica, the next one.
How has this franchise changed the way you approach social media? Obviously, I know you’re on Vine now. We saw you doing some Vines last night. Has it made you more mindful about posting, about being social?
REID: You know, this generation — and it’s not really my generation, it’s the younger generation — is so savvy and smart about social media. I’m lucky enough that I have two of my little brothers, best friends that know how to do it and they’ve taught me how to do it because it’s mind blowing.
I didn’t even know about Vine. I only figured it out maybe five days ago and we have over 4 million hits now. It’s just growing and growing and growing and growing. Who knows, it could be 10 million hits in a week. It’s crazy. Twitter I know, obviously. Facebook is out. Twitter is in. Instagram’s in, but Vine is a new thing. It’s crazy.
Working on these movies, does it make you think, oh, you know what? Fans want to see this so this is a good time to post this.
REID: Absolutely. It helps you promote the film. Anything that you’ll see start building towards when Sharknado 3 airs in July. We’ll start putting out more Vines and more stuff to start promoting the film. The day of the film we’ll put out a really good Vine. You know what I mean? Social media these days is so powerful because it’s not just here. It’s worldwide. In fact, all the countries and it’s strong. It’s important. It’s actually funny because Vines have to be under six seconds, so you have to make them really fast and funny, and really stupid. The dumber, the stupider they are, the funnier, and people like them. It’s like, “Okay, are you kidding me? Boom.” That works.
I’ve been asking the others this. You’re filming Sharknado 3 at a working theme park. Did you get any chances to go and ride the rides?
REID: No, we had no chance. We were working on this because all my stuff is in Orlando, so on this one I was in every single scene. We had no downtime at all. My call times were, some were 4:45 in the morning, 5:15. I even have a cold now. Everyone got sick because it was so cold.
If you should ever want to leave this franchise, would you rather go out in a big, gory death or survive and ride off into the sunset?
REID: It’s Sharknado. I don’t know the answer to that.
What would you prefer, your character, if you could pick your ending?
REID: I can’t really say that, because everytime I read the new scripts, you think “How can we beat the next one?” And somehow they beat it. You think one, “How could they go over the top?” The second one does. I’ll tell you, this one does, but I can’t say the ending. I don’t know what the next one’s going to do so you can’t really say do I want it to end yet or do I not. There’s really no answer for that yet.
How’s she doing with the loss of her hand? We know she had a nice black glove on yesterday.
REID: She’s gotten really used to it. It’s a prosthetic, but it functions as a hand and she covers it up with a glove, and that’s why she covers it so you don’t see it’s metal, whatever. It’s almost like she’s become the bionic woman. It’s so strong. It’s metal. She could grab this and toss it over there if she wanted. She has this super power, a super hero almost with her hand. It’s been really fun to play that part of the film which obviously she never had before.
In the first movie I think she was kind of weak, April. She was scared, she was weak, she didn’t care. Second movie — she learned how to fight a sharknado in the first one, so in the second one, she knew what a sharknado was. She’s prepared. She left the hospital, she got stronger, she wrote a book. Her whole character had an arc. This one, now she’s pregnant.
In this one, it’s a whole different April. Now she’s pregnant, she’s stronger. She has a mother in this film and Bo Derek plays my mother, who’s amazing, by the way, and she’s so beautiful. Great actress as well. It’s crazy saying my mom is Bo Derek, for me. Are you joking? It’s such a high. Bo Derek, known as one of the most beautiful women in the world, her classic shots. She was just awesome. A couple of the scenes I did with Bo, she was just natural, and good, and fun, and kind. She’s really small, like me, so it was like a perfect fit. It was great.
A couple of people mentioned your friendship with Jedward. Can you talk a little bit about that, like how you met?
REID: I love Jedward. Literally, that’s what everyone was laughing about outside right now, because we were doing a Vine at the second upstairs so we were in the hallway and we had hair and makeup right now come up to me and say, “Tara, we need you,” as a joke. “Tara, we need you on set.” The hair and makeup were doing it, and then John and Edward come out and they’re like, “No, you have to come with us.”
It sounds so dumb, but these Vines go viral like this. Yeah, they’re the ones that create these Vines, actually. They’re the ones that showed me how to tweet, do Instagram, do everything, and they are so social media. They get it and their fans, their fan base, it’s like what happened with Sharknado. It became like a cult. So they have a cult following. They call themselves Jedward, and their fans call themselves Jed heads.
It’s crazy because I posted a question on Internet right before I came in here just to say, “Tweet me a question for Jedward,” and I got over 120 questions in 15 minutes.
REID: Yeah. We’ve traveled the world together, but one time we landed in Dublin where they live. I’m not kidding you guys. Maybe 3,000 girls were all outside, inside, outside, all over the airport screaming for them. They had to rope off the airport.
I was like, “What is going on?” It’s like Justin Bieber. That’s how they are in the UK, but there’s two of them, not even one. They’re like, “John, John!” And they know who John and Edward is. Most people get confused who’s who. Not the fans. They know them completely. I know them too, but I’m sure if I put one in the room right now you guys would have no idea who’s John and who’s Edward.
We’d just refer to them as Jedward.
REID: On the set they do. On the set they’re like, “Jedward, will you come here? Jedward?” They came for the whole set, the whole show they were with me because they just finished their tour in Europe, so they took this month off to record here, and I was like, “Well, I’m going to Orlando.” They’re like, “Okay, we’ll come here.” So they came with me just at the last second. Then I’m like, “We have to put them in the movie.” I said to everyone at Syfy, I was like, “If we don’t put Jedward in the movie,” I said, “We just have a whole different fan base now. We just got all of Europe just by making the announcement.” Then they were on the front page of the newspaper, Jedward join Sharknado 3.
I’ve been asking some of the other folks about, this is also the 40th anniversary of Jaws, the other big shark movie. I don’t know if you’ve seen Jaws, if you like Jaws.
REID: Of course.
What’s your take on this sort of sharing that space with Jaws, Sharknado and Jaws?
REID: Jaws scared me to death, but Sharknado doesn’t scare you to death. Sharknado‘s more of a family movie. It’s fun. Jaws is scary. It has an impact. You have nightmares about Jaws and it scares you about sharks. This movie doesn’t scare you about sharks because it’s so outrageous and they’re not real sharks where Jaws looked real. We’re acting to nothing. It’s all CGI. We’re like, “Aagh!” They’re like, “There’s a shark.” “Oh my god, it’s a shark!” It’s over the top, and I think that’s what makes Sharknado so successful, is that you’re acting to nothing, but the whole concept is so extreme and crazy, but if you play it deadpan and serious, it makes it funny. Now, if we were laughing with it, it wouldn’t be funny, so you have to make such the most bizarre experiences seem real and that’s where the joke comes in. I think that’s why Sharknado works.
Is it easier to act serious when you don’t know what the final composite shot is going to be or do you know?
REID: No, it’s so much not. It’s not easier at all. It’s so different, because normally you know okay, here’s a camera coming or here’s this, take up the microphone. You have complete direction. On this film, there’s not direction because none of us know where the sharks are coming in. We have to really guess. We have to have a great imagination and still play that. You have to have to imagination going, this is ridiculous but at the same time, you have to be like, “Okay, it’s right there.” You know what I mean? You have to take your imagination and make it flat, without laughing. There’s so many moments that we’ll be doing this and we’ll be like, “What do we have to do again?”, in between takes. It’s a lot of fun.
Did you have a favorite scene you shot in the theme park for this movie?
REID: In a theme park?
Yeah, in the theme park.
REID: The globe, but I can’t say what happens. But the globe is really a good one. The Universal globe.
You’re three movies in. Your character has literally written the book on surviving a sharknado. Do you have any survival tips?
REID: Just try really hard not to go near the sharks when they’re coming at you. If they’re coming at you, hide or have some kind of weapon. I think everyone needs some kind of weapon. You can’t really carry around a saw with you. It’s a little ridiculous. Imagine people started carrying around if they had pocket knives, maybe they have pocket swords now. No. Just try to stay under metal. Metal works the best for the shark not to get to you. Not plastic, not anything else, not even the sky, not buildings, but metal keeps you pretty safe. So walk around in a cage basically.
Of all the people I’ve asked so far, you’re the first one who’s said try to avoid the sharks. Why don’t people just stay indoors?
REID: They come indoors. They do come indoors. That doesn’t save you either. You got to be careful. I told you. Maybe if you’re in jail, then you’re safe because it’s metal.
So in a shark apocalypse, the only survivors would be criminals.
REID: That’s an interesting storyline. You should talk to them about that one. I never even thought about that.
Speaking of storylines, where do you want the next one to be?
REID: You know, everyone always asks us that question, each one, and the truth is, we have no idea. Thunder Levin, the writer, brings it to a place. Even after the second one we thought, how could we beat the second? What are we going to do? How could we make it more creative, and funny, and keep the franchise going? But they just do. They just do. This one is out of control.
We actually made three alternate – I can’t tell you what they are, but we made three alternate endings for this film. Even I don’t know which one they’re going to pick. It’s insane. It’s really interesting. They’re very clever on this movie. They’re very smart. They know what they’re doing. At first, the first one was supposed to be called “Dark Skies.” I thought, I could do a movie. No one’s going to see it or hear about it called “Dark Skies,” it’s fine. Then they said to me, “No, we’re going to call it Sharknado.” Everyone got on the phone, “We can’t be in a movie called Sharknado. Are you joking me?” IMDB’s going to say, “Sharknado? It would look so bad.” It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They were absolutely right about it. It became a cult phenomenon and here we are Sharknado 3 doing the press junket, so.
I asked a couple of people this question. Do you find yourself visiting places and start thinking, hey, this would be a great place for sharks to come out?
REID: Well, you think about that all the time. In my head, I think … I just finished a movie in Australia, so in real life we were taking helicopters from the set to certain places and you guys wouldn’t even believe how scary it is. There’s so many sharks and kids are playing in the water, but they have all the screens, the netting up, so they can’t get through. But when you’re about to land in the helicopter, it’s so low, but there’s so many sharks. It’s insane. You see them. You literally see them. I always thought Australia would be great because you could still speak English. They all understand it and it’s where the sharks give birth. It’s where they … No one’s ever figured out how they give birth, but they think, great whites at least. I learned a lot about sharks from this film during Shark Week and everything.
Everybody is like, asking me questions about a shark. I’m like, “I just played April, I have no idea,” but I learned a lot of information when we did Shark Week. They said that they never found the place where they gave birth to great white sharks. They think they figured it out so they wanted me to do a TV show. I didn’t do it. It’s called The Queen of Sharks. They wanted me to go on the boat with them and dive down in the sharks where they think they give birth. I’m, “Are you joking me? I’m not doing that. I don’t care how much money it is.” Discovery was doing it. It’ll come out. They’re still doing it. Someone will jump down and they’re going to see … We don’t still know it, but they think they’re going to see where they give birth. It’s supposed to be on this inlet, like coop, what they say in Australia. We’ll see. I think that will be out before this movie, if it happens.
So even titling it “Queen of Sharks, starring Tara Reid,” that wasn’t enough to get you to do it?
REID: No way. Sharks? You want to go do it? You can be the queen of sharks. Can you imagine? They’re really aggressive. If they have a baby, can you imagine how aggressive it would be. It’d be like snap, snap, snap, snap. You would last for five seconds. Nah.
We were talking about social media and how people are obsessed with sitting and watching and tweeting about this. Is there anything that you have to be online while you’re watching it to tweet?
REID: I do. I was the only one last year that interacted with it, but we had … I was there and it was live as we were watching it. The crew and everyone, all of us were there and I cheated a little bit. I had three friends with me and we all put … I put my password in their phones so we were all answering the questions as the fans were coming in at all times. It was so quick. Otherwise you couldn’t have done it like that. It really helped the ratings with the show and keeping some of the lines before they were about to say or teasing them with it. It got so socially active that people were really wanting to watch it more because we were so interactive with them.
The Syfy channel or any other producers sort of, I don’t want to say make you tweet, but do they suggest you tweet during the show?
REID: No, they don’t make us do it. Not at all. I do it myself. They give me no pressure about that whatsoever. If anything, they could give it to me but they say nothing because I do it already.
We did a Vine about five days ago. I didn’t even know what a Vine was till Jedward showed me. What’s Vine? They showed me how you have to make it under six seconds so we just did the dumbest thing like, “Oh my god, it’s a sharknado!” Then the shark goes “voomp” and we fall out of it. It’s so short, but it’s gotten I think now, you guys could probably check. I think it’s like 4 million hits already and it keeps growing by the second by the numbers.
I feel like I need to make Jedward do a Vine with me.
REID: Everyone wants to do a Vine with Jedward. Everyone. All the rest of the cast like, “Can I do one with them? Could I do it with them?” They’re like, “No.” They’re very loyal. I like it like that.
You have exclusivity here?
REID: I have exclusive rights to them.
We’ve asked the other cast members what their favorite weapon of choice is.
REID: Mine was my saw hand. Are you kidding me? In 2 we rocked that one. That was amazing.
Do you get to get attachments or switch it up or anything for this one?
REID: No. She’s the bionic woman. Let me not tell you something, she’s bad ass. She can handle a lot of things with this metal hand. There’s a lot of things that go on here.
See, I‘d think you would want an ax because a saw hand …
REID: You can’t walk around with an ax in your hand. You’re with your kids and you’re in Universal Studios, like Disneyland basically. I can’t walk around axing people. It’s wrong.
That thing is sawing people.
REID: Well, you got to see the movie.
Compared to other production schedules you’ve been on where a feature film might take 100 days or whatever to film, this happens in a very small, tight, condensed schedule. Which do you prefer as an actor? Do you like that fast paced, knock it out in 18 days or do you like that longer production schedule?
REID: They’re so different. They’re so different. This is like, we have to get this done in such a short amount of time, there’s no other options. Period. You have to make your day, so no matter what you do, you have to figure it out to make the scene. Every day there’s re-writes, so everything you memorized the night before, you go in the next day, it’s all new lines. You’re like, “Oh my god.” It’s not you’re a computer and you can do it, but you figure out how to. You get used to the pattern of this film.
Again, it’s Sharknado. You got to understand, anything can happen in this movie. Anything can happen in Sharknado. Sharknado is used as a definition now, that’s its craziness. You know what I mean? Sharknado‘s crazy. Anything can happen. It’s like a mystery and the film, while we’re filming it. It’s a mystery, but when you’re filming a big budget movie it’s not a mystery. You know exactly what you’re doing. You take your time. You have your lines, everything’s cool, the lighting’s good, you know what pages you’re doing. On this, it’s completely different and I think that’s what works also actually on it, is because it’s so chaotic, that it shows it in the film. No one knows what they’re doing. We’re just doing it but we’re not even sure what the hell we’re doing. It’s crazy. But it’s fun.
Tara, did you share your Twitter handle with everyone?
REID: [Shooting a Vine] No I didn’t. Ready, go. Okay, you can Vine us @Sharknado or you can Vine us @TaraReid or just Twitter us @Sharknado and @TaraReid, but do it to me, because I’m better.