We speak to the star of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon about her time with the Shark Attack franchise.
Ahead of our charity screening of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Bristol Bad Film Club set our to interview some of the cast and crew behind the beloved cult shark movie. We were lucky enough to speak to the film’s director David Worth and, in this interview, star Jenny McShane, who plays paleontologist Cataline Stone, about her time making not one, but two, Shark Attack films and filming with her co-stars Casper Van Dien and John Barrowman and lying in order to get a part…
Before we talk about the Shark Attack films, can we talk about one of your first film roles in Cyborg Cop 3, which is a franchise that we’re big fans of!
Are you serious?! For (Cyborg Cop 3), I didn’t have to audition as all the producers had just seen me in Never Say Die, another film that I’d done for them. The film had done really well for them and was the No.1 movie in Japan, so Avi Lerner, who is also the producer on The Expendables movies asked me to go to South Africa for that film as he thought I’d be perfect for it.
And then you were in the first Shark Attack film with Casper Van Dien, who was just off Starship Troopers. Tell us about your experiences making that film.
They primarily used models for that film and Casper and I did all our scuba diving on that film. Casper had cast approval on that film, so I had to audition and I never thought I’d get the part as there were loads of super-models auditioning! They asked me about my scuba diving experience and between you and I, I had only dived twice and wasn’t certified.
They asked about my diving experience and I said that I grew up on a pig farm in Minnesota, I was one of eight children and we used to go fishing every Sunday and that was the beginning of my diving experience and they didn’t ask me any more questions!
That was all true – but then I was on a first class flight on the way to South Africa and I approach Casper and I told him the truth saying that I wasn’t an expert scuba diver and he freaked out!
He asked for a week of rehearsals in the pool and it turned out that Lawrence Sher, the director of photography, also didn’t know how to dive. He said that I saved his life because he thought that he could ‘wing’ scuba diving. He went on to be the DP on all The Hangover movies.
I’ve met Casper Van Dien and he is a lovely man, but did he really have enough power on the film to have casting approval? Did he have that much clout after Starship Troopers?
He did have cast approval as it was after Tarzan too. He made $1 million on Shark Attack! He was a blast. His dad was in the Navy, so Casper grew up scuba diving and was an expert in it. He knew all about diving, but I’d done all my research on sharks and I knew that South Africa was one of the places with the highest number of attacks.
In fact, while we were filming there, there were three attacks. Also, our co-star Bentley Mitchum was Robert Mitchum’s grandson, so that was really cool.
And then three years later, Millennium Films cast you in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, but you’re playing a different character. How did all that come about?
I was meant to be in Shark Attack 2, but I was in a Keanu Reeves film called The Watcher, so I couldn’t do it. But, they asked me to come back for Shark Attack 3, so it was a bit weird but it was smart on the writer’s side to know that the franchise had an audience. I think it was a cool little twist!
And the film was meant to be set in Mexico, but was filmed in South Africa and Bulgarian with a Bulgarian cast?!
That’s right. In fact, my husband is a visual effects supervisor and producer working on films like Pan’s Labyrinth, and likes to show off the film to his friends as it’s so weird. It’s a film that makes people laugh. The accents are super-cheesy, but it’s meant to be hilarious. He was on a movie with Zach Snyder and bought 100 copies of the film to show off the FX to the cast and crew!
We have to talk about the UK’s beloved song-and-dance man John Barrowman…
(laughs) Oh my God.
… he hadn’t yet hit the big time with his roles on Doctor Who and was best known for his stage work. How did you find working with the man that would be Captain Jack Harkness? Was he taking it seriously?
He was really on it. He was awesome. David (Worth) can tell you that he was a joy to work with. When you’re working in Bulgaria and the crew is taking it very seriously, he makes sure he’s respectful of everyone and makes come to work fun. He was awesome.
On day off, we all went go-kart racing. He’s just hilarious. If you’ve never met him, when he speaks to his mother, he speaks to her in a Scottish accent. He’s a talented actor and I’m lucky to have worked with him. He sings, he dances, he’s won Tony’s – he was a great person to work with.
And then he famously ad-libbed “that line”…
There are assorted stories that he did it for a laugh or did it to get a reaction out of you. How do you remember it going down?
It blew everyone away. He said it and I couldn’t believe. It was so weird for someone to say to me as a person that I walked out of the take.
Were you angry and offended? Or did you see the funny side?
When you’re an actor, you’re expect the actors to say their lines, but instead, it was like “What was that?!” We all laughed for 15-20 minutes, we couldn’t believe it.
Let’s talk about the film’s infamous FX. What were you reacting to on set?
They had a shark on-set and I believe it was the same shark from the first film. They had a similar shark in Bulgaria, but in the scene where (SPOILERS) I blow the shark away with the shotgun, we were in a tank and that is the mechanical shark coming up.
I grew up on a farm, so that scene with the shotgun was perfect for me! I remember David (Worth) saying that the shot was perfect and that although it was a fake shark, it’s teeth could potentially rip my arm off! So that’s what we were reacting to most of the time.
At what point where you aware of the film’s cult following?
I met Eli Roth and he sent me an email asking if I knew what a cult following the film had. I was really surprised. It’s pretty cool and I remember showing it to my shark-obsessed brother and when that shark came out of the water, he started laughing so hard.
Everyone that saw the movie, and friends that bought it, would show it to their families like a big prank just to see their reaction.
Now you have all these shark films, but an interesting tie-in is when I was auditioning for Shark Attack 3, so was Sharknado‘s Ian Ziering who was going for the lead role, but he didn’t get it.
Will you be going to see The Meg when it’s released?
Of course I will! And I’m sure my husband will want to check out the film’s special effects!
Jenny McShane, thank you so much.