The Hoff talks to us about his time as Nick Fury, making Starcrash and Baywatch Nights, how he ended up doing that music video for Kung Fury and his time in Bristol!
You spent some time in Bristol in 2011, when you were Captain Hook at the Hippodrome – what did you think of our city?
I loved Bristol, I love the history of the city. It’s pretty amazing. There’s this book called The Naked Guide to Bristol and it’s incredible. It detailed Bristol’s slave past and how all these housewives in the city were instrumental in getting it abolished.
The reason was because many of their husbands were getting kidnapped in bars and forced to join the crews of slave ships, so they wanted to make sure their men didn’t end up at sea after a night of getting hammered!
The artwork all over the city was also great as was the architecture which was a real throwback to medieval times. It was really hip. The people were also really lovely.
How did you end up getting the role of Nick Fury? Stan Lee was reportedly very impressed with your portrayal of the super-spy.
Stan Lee kept saying, “You’re the consummate Nick Fury! You’re the consummate Nick Fury!” He actually did a guest star in the film, playing himself I think. He’s actually in everything he does, but it was really an amazing thing – to be validated by Stan Lee.
He’s one of the nicest, coolest guys I’ve ever met – a very out-going, spunky, fun, kind guy who was really impressed with what we did with Nick Fury.
We tried to make the character like the comic book. My favourite line in the film is still my favourite line of all time – “Guys like you tend to cling to the bowl no matter how many times you flush!” – I love that line!
I loved the character, I loved Lisa Rinna and all the cast that were terrific, but very true to the comic book which is very different to Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal. He’s a terrific actor and I love his work and him as a person, but it was a different Nick Fury then what was portrayed in the comic books. So I was happy to pay ode and tribute to the real Nick Fury the way it was written.
Are you aware that the film still has a cult following? Apparently after The Avengers came out in 2012, copies of your film were available for over $90 on Amazon.
People at Comic-Com come up to me dressed as Nick Fury, with the cigar and the patch and they’re really into it. I loved it because David S. Goyer wrote the film and really concentrated on the characters having a sense of humour and portrayed them as incredibly cool and entertaining.
That’s what I miss about the Nick Fury character. Some of the movies of today, they’re missing that tongue-in-cheek humour.
Did you see it as just a stand-alone feature or were you hoping it would be picked up as a series?
I was really hoping it would be picked up as a series and I tried to get that implemented.
However at that time, people weren’t really interested in Marvel. It got marginal ratings and today, I’m sure the ratings would go through the roof if it came out, but it was a great project and I’m really proud of it. I think it was just a little before its time.
So what would have happened to Fury if the series had progressed?
Fury would have gone on to travel through time, taking the pill that keeps him young and would have gone out like Michael Knight – fighting criminals that are beyond the law and using his wit and his ‘might for right’ to see justice done.
Are there any other superheroes that you’d like to be cast as or were almost cast as earlier in your career?
I was almost cast as Superman. Christopher Reeve and I were the same age and I was up for the role. I was also up for Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I auditioned for Spielberg when I was younger, but it just wasn’t met to be.
I became the Knight Rider and have had a long and lasting career as David Hasselhoff, The Hoff, The Knight Rider Guy, The Baywatch Guy – but Nick Fury owns a special place in my heart. I’d love to do it again.
This is actually the second ‘Hoff’ film we’ve screened. We rented out the city’s planetarium in 2013 and screened Starcrash – one of your first films, which again, has a massive cult following. What was it like filming that in Italy with Caroline Munro and Christopher Plummer? Were you ever distracted by Caroline’s outfits?
Filming Starcrash was a surreal experience. When I started, I didn’t know who Caroline Munroe was. She was a beautiful girl with a lovely accent and a gorgeous Baywatch-esque body. Christopher Plummer was, to me, one of my superheroes as I loved him in The Sound of Music.
However, I was never distracted by Caroline’s outfits, but I was distracted by her tits!
Her husband, Judd Hamilton, was from Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds who sung “Fallin’ In Love”. I did a cover of that song later on and I really liked Judd. He was the robot (Elle) in the movie.
It was a tough shoot. I got food poisoning, but it was hysterical working with the director.
Joe Spinell (Count Zarth) was in it and never got paid and once came to work with a gun and the Italians were all screaming at each other – they’ll yell at each other over anything and still remain friends – it was really funny.
We shot a lot of that in Bari in southern Italy in the caves. It was pretty amazing.
Did you manage to take any props? Your laser sword perhaps or that weird mask that fires lasers?
They were no lasers on the show – the special effects were all put in later. We had no idea what it would look like, but they should have been called ‘not-so-special effects’, because we didn’t really know what we were doing.
At one point, the script asked for me to say, “Let’s go this way, the way’s empty” and I said to the director, “We don’t say ‘the way is empty'”.
He said, “Say what you like! We’ll loop it anyway!”
So I walked down the hill carrying Caroline Munroe and said, “Let’s go this way! The way is empty!” and she laughed her butt off, because she knew I was having them on.
One time we did a scene with a fight scene where I was using a dinosaur bone and I broke it over the stuntman’s back and the bone broke. We realised we didn’t have any more bones, so they took a four-hour break while they figured out how to make a new bone – oh my God – so crazy!
Long lunches too! Those guys liked to drink a lot of wine at lunch. Not me though, just them.
Obviously, you’re famous for your role as Mitch in Baywatch, but we are really fascinated with the spin-off series Baywatch Nights, especially the second series where Mitch fights supernatural monsters!
We loved Baywatch Nights. It was meant to be like I-Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Crosby, where we explore the relationships between the leads and celebrate their camaraderie. The ratings were actually rather good, but while a nine-share might be huge today, it wasn’t good enough to stay on the air.
Was it The X-Files that heavily influenced the show’s shift from a police show to a sci-fi show?
So the producers were losing money and decided to bring in David Gerber, who was executive producer on Police Story, to change the format of the show. As a result, it became more like Police Story, which was really boring to us, so we decided to go the supernatural way, because we all loved The X-Files, and investigate weird-ass crimes.
I thought it was really good and we all had a good camaraderie. We found Angie Harmon, who is now a big star, and Gregory Alan Williams (Garner) is still working and he’s a fine gentlemen, friend and actor.
We had a really good cast and it’s one of the biggest disappointments of my life that we weren’t allowed to create what we wanted to make. It would have worked if they had left us alone, but everyone was worried about what would sell, as due to the marginal ratings at the beginning, we never got a chance to develop it.
Today, it would have been pretty fun and probably would have been picked up for many, many episodes.
The music video for ‘True Survivor’ is awesome and we even backed Kung Fury when it was on Kickstarter – how did you get involved in the project?
Kung Fury came to me because my nephew, who is also my assistant, came to me and said: “This guy is pretty big on YouTube and raised a lot of money with the trailer for a short film he’s doing. You may want to take a look at this as they want you to sing the theme song – which has not been written yet – but will be 80s style.”
So I looked at 10 seconds of it on my telephone and said: “I’m in.”
I love Sin City, and I loved the look of David Sandberg’s project which was like the lighter-side of Sin City and a real throwback to the 80s, which were a fun, passionate time when we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I thought David really captured something magnificent and in a really simple way.
I call him an “up-and-coming force of nature in the digital world” and I bet he’ll be the next George Lucas when it comes to animation and digital effects, if he gets the right tools and continues on his journey. He’s super talented and very humble and if he remains so, he’ll be fine. He’s a good friend and I’m very happy to be associated with the project.
I also had a lot of input with the song and worked with the writer (Jörgen Elofsson), who’s a great guy and has done a lot of Kelly Clarkson’s (amongst others) songs. Amazing guy, amazing writer and I could tell it was going to be a classic when I went to record the single.
To see the final product and the reaction, with over a million hits a day, it’s just amazing.
What can we next see The Hoff in?
Well, you can see me in Hoff The Record – a new TV series I’ve done. We’ve done six episodes already and will probably do six more. It should be on the Dave channel in the UK and will be realeased worldwide probably in November or December.
I’m also doing my own musical called Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, which is all about how Ibiza was created and became the party capital of the world. The backdrop is fantastic dance tracks from the 80s and 90s – so True Survivor falls right into that category. Maybe I’ll use it in the encore!
I’m also waiting to see if I’ve made the cut in Ted 2 – I might end up on the cutting room floor, but I should be on the extended cut. I’m also coming out to Sweden to continue my 80s and 90s celebration tour and will be in Glasgow doing Peter Pan in December!
I hope Bristol enjoys Nick Fury as much as I do!