By Jordan Riefe
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A familiar face on TV since the 1980s, David Hasselhoff takes his act to movie screens on Friday in horror comedy "Piranha 3-DD," which puts "the Hoff" back in familiar fashion - in a bathing suit with a bevy of bikini-clad friends.
Channeling his "Baywatch" character Mitch Buchannon, Hasselhoff makes an opening day guest appearance at a water park in the movie just as flesh-eating piranha move in for the kill. The film is a sequel to 2010 surprise success "Piranha 3D."
In a recent interview with Reuters, Hasselhoff talked about his new movie and recalled his "Baywatch" days. He executive produced the TV series about beach lifeguards, overseeing tight budgets that sometimes left insufficient tape to shoot a scene. His solution was to shoot girls in bikinis in slow motion. It became the show's signature and made him a fortune.
In 2007, the 59-year-old actor fell under the media's harsh glare for his infamous "cheeseburger video" taped by his daughter. In it, an obviously drunk Hasselhoff tries to eat a burger off the floor of a hotel room. Over the years, he has sought help for drinking and mended fences with his daughters.
Until this season, Hasselhoff was a judge on popular TV contest "America's Got Talent," but by taking a role on "Piranha 3-DD," he is angling for more time on the big screen. The film's producers, The Weinstein Co., own rights to "Knight Rider," the TV show that launched Hasselhoff's career, and there has long been talk around Hollywood about a film version of that program.
"I have no idea what's going to go on," Hasselhoff said when asked about a "Knight Rider" movie. "All I know is they were very happy with what I did in the movie," he told Reuters.
Here, Hasselhoff discusses "Piranha 3-DD," the cheeseburger, girls in bikinis, and what it's like being "the Hoff."
Q: How did you get involved with "Piranha 3-DD"? Did they come to you or did you pursue the role?
A: "I saw 'Piranha' and my stunt double did all the stunts on it. I really kind of liked it. I think it was because the girls were hot and the stunts were good, and I knew my stunt double was underwater, holding all the girls down. He had a lot of fun playing with naked girls and drowning them."
Q: So you went after the role?
A: "I went up and met Bob Weinstein, (co-chairman of The Weinstein Co.) and he's like, ‘You gotta do this movie. It'll be great!' I got to play my character dark and that's what I wanted to do: ‘Oh my God, what's happened to my career? Not only am I in this stupid movie, I'm not going to make any rescues!' That was the fun part about doing it.
Q: Your character experiences a career low. You had a career low a couple of years back with the infamous ‘cheeseburger video.' What did you take away from that?
A: "My first impression was what a feeding frenzy the press had and what a feeding frenzy all the people that supported me for so many years in the news agencies, the 'Entertainment Tonight's,' and how they all were bidding for this private moment that was between me and my daughter. Wow! What a brutal business. It was wrong what the media did, not to me but to my daughter. It wasn't about drinking or sobering up. I didn't have nearly a problem like anybody else. It was really about my daughters. So they brought us together, and in the end maybe that's why that happened."
Q: You took a big gamble executive producing "Baywatch" when the network dropped it after only one season. What made you think it was going to fly?
A: "The first trailer. The budget on the show originally was $1.2 million and we only had $800,000. That's why all those montages came in. One day, we didn't have enough footage, so I said, ‘Go shoot that girl's (rear). That's beautiful.' They came back and I said, ‘Shoot it in slow motion.' We shot the beginning in slow motion because we didn't have any money. In the end, it made us lots of money. We just would find anybody who looked really good and shoot them in slow motion."
Q: How long did it take you to cast Pamela Anderson?
A: "She walked into the room and I said, ‘Sign her.' She's got charisma absolutely dripping off her. I immediately said, ‘Sign her, sign her, sign her, sign her, sign her.'"
Q: You had a hit single in 1989 with "Looking for Freedom." How amazing was singing at the Berlin Wall before it came down?
A: "They asked me to sing and I said, ‘Only if I can sing on the wall.' They said, ‘We'll have to get the Chancellor from Germany, Helmut Kohl and Honecker from East Germany to agree.' And they both did! It was the most amazing moment of my life. I went back last year and on New Years Eve, I recreated the same moment and there were one million people there. They were all singing "Looking for Freedom" at midnight."
Q: So you came full circle after just over 20 years. You seem to keep an even keel through it all.
A: "Once you realize that life isn't fair and people aren't fair and things aren't going to happen the way you want them to happen, you just gotta go with the flow ... keep moving forward. And you gotta laugh at it. My God, my life is amazing. I'm 59-years-old, and I'm hanging out with LMFAO. I just did a video for 'Train' and for some reason I still got this amazing amount of following. I don't know why. I just go with the flow."
(Reporting By Jordan Riefe; Editing By Bob Tourtellotte)