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Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica Fox and Anthony C. Ferrante – It’s Raining Sharks in the

Updated: May 1, 2020

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid star in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid star in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica Fox and Anthony C. Ferrante

It’s Raining Sharks in the City that Never Sleeps

by Ali Speiss

It was July of 2013 when we first heard the name Sharknado.  And now they’re back!

Sharknado was a surprisingly popular horror/comedy flick on the Syfy network that premiered last year and starred two well known 90’s actors – Ian Ziering, best known for Beverly Hills 90210 and Tara Reid of American Pie fame.  The film was set in Los Angeles, California, after an unexpected tornado hits the region and swoops up some hungry man-eaters. Heroes Fin Shephard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) fight off thousands of killer sharks that are terrorizing LA and it’s residents on the land, in the air and in the sea. Movie over.

After the popularity of shocking Sharknado, there was destined to be a sequel, snarkily titled Sharknado 2: The Second One.  Just like the first, Sharknado 2 comprises of a tornado filled with chomping sharks, but this time, New York City is the metropolis under siege.  Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres on Wednesday, July 30 at 9pm on the Syfy channel.

Recently I took part in a conference call with some of the stars and director of this massive Twitter hit. We talked about everything from the social media influence to the stars favorite shark kill. Here is what they had to say…

Ian Ziering stars in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering stars in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

You guys use a lot of blood and guts and other things like that in this movie. Can you talk about kind of working with that and the green screen?

Tara Reid: I think when people see the sharks they think there’s a lot more green screen than there really was. There really wasn’t too much green screen at all in the film. It’s more of CGI, different special effects but not really green screen. So if you were acting with sharks that were coming at you but nothing was coming at you, you were still outside in the city. It wasn’t like you were acting behind a green screen. It was just filling in the blanks and believing in the director. He promises sharks, so you react to the sharks as well as your imagination could make them.

Vivica Fox: And I also like to give credit to our director, Anthony, because he was very descriptive in what was happening and what kind of sharks were coming at us.

Anthony C. Ferrante: Well, Ian had some green screen stuff, but Tara’s right; most of it’s practical. 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 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 in pain. So a lot of kudos to Ian for managing those harness rigs.

Ian Ziering: Thanks, Anthony. Working in a virtual environment 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. 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 Reid: Yes, absolutely.

Anthony C. Ferrante: The first movie was a big learning curve for everybody. While everything worked out and it all looked great, we learned a lot off of that first movie. Then you watch everybody in this one. Ian was just doing things, like I’m going to move my foot here and then they can put a shark jumping up at me when I’m on top of the taxi cab. And that’s what we did. We put a shark there. After going through the motions of this stuff you really start understanding what can be done. We have a pretty amazing visual effects team. We shot late February and we just delivered it a few weeks ago. They did over 700 visual effects shots and that was in less than two months. There’s some pretty damn impressive shots in this film. They do a lot of work to make this stuff happen and to payoff all the hard word the actors did on set.

Director Anthony C. Ferrante of "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Director Anthony C. Ferrante of “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

When you went in to do 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 Reid: 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 this would be this phenomenon. It was a great and shocking experience. It turned into something wonderful. To be a part of the franchise has been incredible. But, definitely, we didn’t know. We got real lucky.

Anthony C. Ferrante: It’s hard with these things. You just try to make the best project possible. 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. You very rarely get those opportunities like that, where people just want to embrace you just because you’re there. That was kind of special. And helped, because now we got to make a second movie. We got to make a bigger and better movie after that. So it’s fun.

What can we expect from the second movie?

Tara Reid: More sharks.

Besides more sharks.

Vivica Fox: Lots of action. A lot of cameos. A lot of cameos. 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. It’s just an awesome surprise.

Anthony C. Ferrante: The key with the second movie is we wanted to amp up what we did. We already did a lot in the first movie for the budget and the schedule. I think one of the reasons why it stood out was just because we were pushing the budget and the schedule the maximum. We pretty much had the same kind of schedule in this one and we were trying to do twice as much as pushing as we did on the first one. So it’s a lot of heavy lifting to make these things look fantastic and we don’t have a $200 million budget to pull it off. But we have a lot of the imagination from our writer Thunder Levin, from our cast and from our crew and producers and Syfy to let us play in this playground.

One of the best things that Syfy said… there were actually two great things they said when we were developing. One, they started saying, “Well, we’ve 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 hide the snow. That really adds to the look and feel of the movie. The second thing is that, they said, “We want you to shoot this movie in New York. Shoot it in New York. We don’t want you to go to Canada. We don’t want you shoot in the back lots in LA. We want to shoot in New York.” That makes this movie look gargantuan and it feels authentic. I think that’s what makes this one really special, because we’re right there in the thick of New York.

Tara Reid: And I think New York City has its own personality itself. So adding the personality of New York into this film really added a magical element into the film.

Ian Ziering and Vivica Fox star in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering and Vivica Fox star in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

A couple of minutes ago you mentioned the celebrity cameos that are in this film. Can you name a few of them?

Vivica Fox: Sure, we had Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and lots more that you have to stay tuned to see.

Anthony C. Ferrante: Judah Friedlander was one of the big Twitter followers that night who’s from 30 Rock and he was writing some really funny stuff. We became friends with him and he really wanted to be in the second movie. He actually was only hired for one line in Sharknado 2 and I called Judah up, going, “I don’t want to waste you with one line. If we can give you a bigger part would you do it?” He’s like, “Of course.” So we actually combined three characters at the ballpark into one character, so we could keep him around a little longer in the movie. A lot of the film was we would get calls, like, the night before going, this actor’s available, let’s put him in the movie. And like, okay. And then suddenly you’re writing something for that actor.

I keep calling these movies living organisms because you have a script, but you go on the set and it’s like things are changing. Or you don’t have this truck or you don’t have that and you have to make it work. You can’t pawn off not getting what you did that day on Day 70 because you don’t have a Day 70. So it’s always: Here we are. This is what we got. Let’s make some magic. That includes we have a new actor that showed up and we don’t have a part. Let’s write a part for them because I always wanted the cameos to be integrated into the film, not just be somebody random that gets killed. Not that we don’t do that, but I wanted as much as possible to give all these people characters.

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 Reid: I mean they could go anywhere. Sharknado is, you know, wherever it comes. So they could go anywhere from inside hospitals to the Met Stadiums to subways to the street. You name it, a shark could be there. The Empire State Building.

Anthony C. Ferrante: I think the misnomer about Sharknado is 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. The simple explanation on our end is that 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 and all that stuff. That’s part of the mythology. 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. That opens up the imagination of what you can do.  We were able to do a lot of crazy stuff because we were freed by the fact that we could do anything.

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid star in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid star in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

I was wondering if you each could talk about if you added anything to your characters that may not have originally been scripted for you.

Tara Reid: Everyone added a certain aspect to their character. That’s what makes characters good, an actor adds their thing on top of it. We all had a very good rapport with Anthony. There was something that we thought was missing, a character, something that we could add on to the character, we found that place, which was exciting. Every character got to go farther and took risks. You’ll see it. It worked.

Anthony C. Ferrante: We also softened your character, didn’t we? We softened Tara’s character in this a lot too because we wanted to see the relationship between you and Fin.

Tara Reid: Yes, that’s true.

Ian Ziering and Vivica Fox star in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering and Vivica Fox star in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

Vivica, what was it about the film that made you want to be a part of it?

Vivica Fox: 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 pleasantly surprised when I got the offer to play Skye. I hadn’t worked with Ian since back in the day with 90210. 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 C. Ferrante: We also changed the character a lot when you came on board. I was so thrilled when you came on board, because we were allowed to do an idea that we had early on of making the Skye character Fin’s high school sweetheart. Because we were trying to show this reuniting of Fin and April, but we wanted an obstacle. Man, you guys sold that. It was a blessing to have you on that film, because it just gave us so much more depth. Those little moments and the things that you guys did – in the middle of the Sharknado – doing things that you don’t expect someone to do in Sharknado 2. I just love that. I love that dynamic, because at the heart of it, if you don’t care about these characters everything starts falling apart. So we had a really nice mix with everybody.

Director Anthony C. Ferrante of "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Director Anthony C. Ferrante of “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

Anthony, what do you think it is about Sharknado that’s made it such a popular franchise?

Anthony C. Ferrante: There’s a lot of theories about it but I think that a lot of genre movies – and I’ve done a lot of them as a director, writer, they’re just horror films – you have a base audience. You know there’s a certain amount of people that are going to watch them whether it’s DVD, on Syfy, BluRay, on demand, whatever. There’s that core audience that will seek this stuff out. We had a core audience for this movie, but somehow the mainstream became attracted to it. We had the sports community embracing us and we really didn’t have any sports elements in the first movie. We had families getting together, watching it with their kids. We did not set out to make a kid’s movie, but there are a lot of kids that love this film because it had sort of that 11-year-old spirit.

What happened was that it was something silly about the title and it seemed ridiculous but when you saw the trailer. It looks like the big studio movie or, trying to be.  think people were – wanted – we were daring them to watch it to see if we could fail and yet we kept delivering every ten minutes with some big action set piece. So I think it was a lot of different things. We just got a lot of different people. It’s a bipartisan movie, the left and right both embraced movie. There is nothing that anybody could pick apart in it. They just liked it. It’s so hard to get something like this. You can’t really take it apart and say it was this or that. We were this fun little film that people didn’t have to spend $50 at a movie theater to go take their family to. They get to watch it in the privacy of their home and they had a blast. They made fun of it. They loved it. They hated it. I mean it was just great.

Ian Ziering stars in "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Ian Ziering stars in “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”

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 Ziering: I was on board right from the get go. What’s so nice about Sharknado is that it really is not competing with itself. The bar that it set initially, that’s unattainable. This was a low budget independent film, you know, a very campy nature. Really the only way to screw it up would be to change it. The brilliance of Sharknado 2 is the fact that it’s more of the same. It’s a similar formula but it’s a different experience. Similar situation in a new environment. If people liked one they’re going to love two.

Tara Reid: I agree with Ian exactly. He couldn’t have said it better. 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. I was: Yes, sharks are flying in Beverly Hills and maiming people and jumping out of pools. And my friends are laughing so hard. They’re like, are you kidding me? This is amazing, you’ll have to do this. It’s so funny, you have to do it. The next day I called my agent and I’m like, all right, let’s do it. And never knowing it would become the phenomenon it did but it worked. People really enjoyed it. Then we learned from the first one and I think made it even better.

What did the two of you like about working with one another?

Tara Reid: 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 Ziering: I was very lucky to work with just a talented group. Tara, every day showed up. We got all the shots we needed to have and had all the fun that was possible working in the constraints. Vivica, another consummate professional. We knew we had to get our shots everyday. We did but because everyone knew what we were up against everyone came very prepared and very ready to do the work. That left us at the end of some days with some extra time that it would allow Anthony to get some bonus footage, to get some shots that really were gifts. So it’s great when you’re working with people that understand that time is money. This film we didn’t have a lot of time. Because everyone is very professional, everyone came prepared, and we actually made it happen.

Ian, I saw at the screening they had at the Beverly Hills a few days ago, you really seem to enjoy yourself when you’re there. And it was such a odd situation to be showing a shark film, next to a swimming pool with people who have never seen it before. Can you kind of describe your experience that night? What did it feel like to you as you were watching that?

Ian Ziering: I felt like I was at a big Hollywood premiere. It’s a surreal experience. Keep in mind that this is a TV movie. The rollout has been in the same fashion that hundred million dollar blockbusters are brought to market. The fan response – not just here in the United States but globally – has been so overwhelming. This movie is doing something that the major motion picture studios try to accomplish. But we caught lightning in a bottle. That premiere was the first time I saw the entire movie cut together. Because I’m a fan of the genre, because I’m a fan of the movie, I enjoyed it too. I laughed at it as much as everyone else did. I was surprised and shocked just like everyone else was. Then at the end of the film I was really happy, because it’s a really good movie.

Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Sharknado 2: The Second One.

You get to do action hero things that people don’t usually get to do. You have chainsaws and all kinds of things to fight these sharks with. Was that just plain fun to be able to do that stuff?

Ian Ziering: Yes.

Vivica Fox: Absolutely.