A quick word with Sharknado's Ian Ziering

A quick word with ... Ian Ziering, best known for his role as Steve Sanders in the original Beverly Hills 90210, but now earning a whole new level of notoriety for his lead role in alarming mockbuster film Sharknado.

It's a movie about a freak hurricane hitting Los Angeles and lifting giant, man-eating sharks out of the water, then spitting them out across the city, alive. Ziering gets to play a surfer/bar owner called Fin (yes, really), who tries to save the city by, er, dropping bombs into the twisters from choppers.

Originally it was only to have one screening on American cable channel SyFy, but fan demand - and a social media frenzy - has seen it become a cult hit.

What made you say yes to the project in the first place?

My wife. I got halfway through the script, and said, "You know honey, there are scripts that will make a career, and scripts that will break a career, and I don't know about this one." And with our baby Mia on her hip, and our other baby Penna still in her belly, she said "Look, we're gonna have two kids, you need to go to work." So I thought, right, I'll take one for the team. As a single man, I probably wouldn't have done it.

What made you initially reluctant?

The script! Oh my God, there were so many visual effects in it, and any time that happens you're really going out on a limb, because you don't really know what they're going to do with it. This was a low-budget sci-fi movie so I wasn't sure it would work, but thank God, they hit it out of the park.


Was there anything that did attract you to the script?

When I realised I was going to get to rappel off a bridge, and dive into the belly of a shark with a chainsaw, and fight my way out. I thought, actually I've got to do that, because it's so badass. When else was I going to get that opportunity? But honestly, I swear I never thought the movie would see the light of day.

What is it about sharks that has such a hold on public consciousness?

Sharks are an apex predator, I mean really, there's not much on our planet that is as ferocious as a shark. I mean, lions, tigers, yeah sure, but when you've got a mouthful of teeth coming at you in the water, it's one of the scariest things in the world. Certainly it is for me. And science-fiction fans are the best fans in entertainment, they take fan to fanatic. When it first screened, it really blew up on Twitter, and my followers doubled overnight, and people came there to talk to me about the movie.

What were your favourite scenes to film?

There was this one scene where the sharks were supposedly raining down on us from the sky, and our director said, "Okay, every once in a while jump over something, or look like you're trying to dodge something", and I started having fun with it. I would run, and wave my chainsaw as if I was slicing up a shark on the fly, in the hope they would put a CGI shark in the path of my chainsaw. There was one moment where I stopped and put the chainsaw up in the air - this is all my own choreography through the scene - and they had a shark get cut right in half with that move, and it just looked so badass. It was awesome.

I guess one reason why people responded to the film so positively is they can see you guys were having fun with it.

Well, we took it very seriously. You have to commit to the material. If there was ever a scene where I looked straight into the camera and winked, as in, we're both in on the joke here, I'm better than this and we all know it, then the movie would have lost its appeal. You have to be able to suspend disbelief, and as an actor you have to commit to the material and sell it the best way you can, and we all did - of course, after we stopped laughing.

Who: Ian Ziering
What: Sharknado
Where and when: Prime TV, Tuesday September 17, 8.30pm

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