At this point, you have to think that for a celebrity, appearing in a Sharknado film on Syfy is akin to having a guest voice on The Simpsons or, going further back, appearing as a villain on the old Batman series — kind of a sign that you are still important to pop culture. Or, at least their publicists must think so, even if the stars themselves might have been unfamiliar with the films, as Gary Busey and Cheryl Tiegs appear to have been when we spoke with them about their roles in Sharknado: The 4th Awakens.
Busey and Tiegs play, respectively, Wilford Wexler — scientist father to April (returning star Tara Reid) — and strong-willed flower child Raye, Fin’s (Ian Ziering, also back) mother, in The 4th Awakens, which is the fourth (obviously) installment of the franchise.
“I’ve never seen Sharknado,” Tiegs admitted to us. “Why, I don’t know. I’m sure my son has. Somehow they passed me by. … I told my son that I was doing Sharknado, and he thought it was pretty cool. I think it’s kind of a cult following.”
The always-interesting Busey expressed the same sentiment. When asked if he had been familiar with the Sharknado films before taking the role, he said, “No. Not at all. I’m still not. I know nothing about them.”
But that didn’t keep the veteran stars from enjoying their time on The 4th Awakens. Busey was only on set for about a day, but he said that it “was extremely fun, because David Hasselhoff [returning after being introduced in the third film] and I go way back. We had a good time working together. … I just had my scenes with [him], and we did some talking with some other people, and that was it. I was in and out. I was like the In-N-Out Burger.”
Although Tiegs plays the ex-wife of Hasselhoff’s character, she herself did not get to work with The Hoff during her time on the film. That seems like a missed opportunity, to have two stars famous for appearing in swimwear passing like ships in the night.
“I never saw him,” Tiegs laughed. “He’s a nice man, and I would have loved to have done a scene, but no, we weren’t together.”
Tiegs does have praise for Ziering, with whom she shared a scene. “He’s not only a good actor, but he’s the nicest guy,” she said.
Busey said he loved the energy he got from working on the film though his time on set was brief. Ever the philosopher, Busey spoke almost poetically, in a way that probably very few viewers have read or thought of when all the tweets start flying during a Sharknado airing.
“That’s the beautiful thing about working on art, having that energy,” Busey said. “Because if you don’t have that energy, you’re not going to get anywhere. You learn a lot in this industry when you’ve been there 46 years.”
You might even learn what a sharknado is.
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens premieres July 31 at 8pm ET on Syfy.