Sharknado's Leading Lady Talks Fighting Fish in Freezing Water—And Addresses Those Sequel Rumors
In case you happen to be living under a pop cultural rock, a little thing called Sharknado happened last week. The SyFy channel original movie premiered on Wednesday evening in a manner similar to the network's many other made-for-TV flicks—but whether due to its camp-tastic title, buzzworthy cast (both Tara Reid of the American Pie films and Beverly Hills, 90210's Ian Ziering received top billing) or so-bad-they-were-good special effects and plotline, a little low-budget movie about a storm full o' sharks instigated some major social media action. At one point, Sharknado was generating a mind-boggling 5,000 tweets per minute!
In addition to leaving us a little shark-obsessed, the SyFy spectacular left us with a number of lingering questions. Did the cast and crew know they had a hit on their hands from the get-go? How much of the onscreen action was actually created through (questionable) CGI? And most importantly, what the heck was it like to film an entire scene inside of a shark?!
For answers, we turned to actress Cassie Scerbo, who plays ass-kicking, fin-fighting waitress Nova in the movie (you might also recognize her from ABC Family's Make It Or Break It). Read on to learn more about Scerbo's Sharknado experience: the good, the bad and the altogether goopy—hey, sharks aren't the driest of animals!
Lucky: When you were first approached about starring in Sharknado, what was your reaction?
Cassie Scerbo: I immediately thought HELL. YES. How could I not do it? It was my inner tomboy's dream: guns, blood, choppers, sharks, natural disasters? SOLD. I was offered the role with only a day to give them a response—and, well, I had one within 30 minutes.
Your character Nova gets put through the wringer over the course of the movie—sprinting through rainstorms, bombing tornadoes and more. It must have been pretty grueling to film.
Everything was CGI, and most of the shoot took place on a sound stage—but believe it or not, I had no idea the acting on this film would be a bit challenging. That sounds crazy, because it's very over-the-top—but that's actually why it was challenging. We had to put ourselves in these completely surreal circumstances, and I kept wondering if my reactions were too big or too small. I was just trying to imagine how I'd react if I actually saw sharks falling from the sky!
Were there any scenes that were especially difficult to film?
The ones that took place inside Tara's character's home—which was a set built inside of a pool with a broken heater—were the most challenging, because I was so cold! My body was actually going into shock. There's a scene where the boys and I are in there fighting a shark in her living room—and our director, Anthony C. Ferrante, actually gave me the choice to not be in it, but I refused. I wanted to fight that thing! As I said, I'm a tomboy at heart, so it was awesome. I had my very own little Lara Croft moment.
Your character's wardrobe is pretty simple—you're not wearing more than a bikini and an army jacket for most of the movie. I'm guessing they must've had dozens of those jackets on hand for you—they must've gotten wrecked so quickly!
We actually only had a couple jackets. The film was so wet and messy that it almost didn't matter! Same with hair and makeup. After my makeup was done on the first day, I asked where hair was—and they laughed and said that with this project, there was none for my character! I was confused at first, but then got to set and was drenched by the water towers within seconds. Then it all made sense...
If three shark-filled tornadoes came barreling towards your house, what three things would you try to save from your own wardrobe before fleeing?
Definitely my new hot pink Jimmy Choos—they're my first pair ever, and I was so excited when I got them. I'm such a nerd. I'd also grab my grandmother's old engagement ring, and my classic black Chanel bag.
Always save the Chanel. So let's talk about Sharknado's epic ending for a second, in which you literally get chainsawed out of a shark. What was that like to film? It looked pretty...gooey.
Besides the fact that my lips turned blue and it took the entire hour-and-a-half drive home, wrapped in two robes and a blanket, with the heat blasting on high, to warm me up? It was a blast! We shot that scene in the parking lot of a beach in Marina Del Rey around 7 pm in the middle of the winter—and that goop made it 50 times colder. Apparently it's the same stuff they put in milkshakes? It's extremely goopy! But I knew it was the crazy finale moment, so I just tried to use the "mind over matter" technique and ignore it. They put a heater inside the shark to try and warm us up!
Did any of the cast and crew anticipate the incredible amount of social media hype the movie's received?
Not. At. All. I was stunned and speechless, and have been asking my mother to sporadically pinch me! It's truly been so exciting, and I'm so happy that America got it. They hopped on board, rolled with the punches and had a blast with us! We were so lucky to be able to basically have one big party with the world—one big Twitter party, that is. That's what is so exciting about our industry—it keeps everyone on their toes.
Fill in the blank: "A tornado full of ____ is my absolute worst nightmare." Don't say "sharks" unless it's absolutely true...
No joke, I would have said "sharks"—ironically, my number one fear—but since that's boring now, I'll go with spiders! Which I also had to come in contact with while filming a different movie this year. Dear universe, what on earth are you trying to prepare me for?!
Lastly, I've been hearing rumors that there may be a Sharknado sequel in the pipeline. Are you game for round two?
200 percent. I love being a part of this awesome, silly, incredible phenomenon...and playing a badass isn't too bad, either.
Want to witness Sharknado for yourself? Due to popular demand, SyFy will be airing an encore presentation this Thursday at 7 pm EST. Set your DVRs!
Photo courtesy of Nicole Miller Agency
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- The Zara Skort That's Taking Over the World
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