Thrice into the Sharknado: Tara Reid on returning to the fishy franchise

In case you haven't heard, another sharknado is coming. And Tara Reid is once more joining the fray as April Wexler, the heroine who battles the fishy tempest.

On a visit to the Universal Studios Orlando set of Sharknado last February, I spoke to Reid about her involvement with the third entry of the social media and pop culture phenomenon. In the following conversation, the actress discusses her “bionic” hand, Jaws, and where the franchise could go next after it airs on Syfy (Syfy is Blastr's parent company - Ed.) this Wednesday at 9 PM

How do you interact on social media when the movie airs?

They don't make us do it. Not at all. I do it myself. They give me no pressure about that whatsoever...[but] I was there online and it was live as we were watching it. The crew and everyone, all of us were there and I cheated a little bit. I had three friends with me and we all put...I put my password in their phones so we were all answering the questions as the fans were coming in at all times. It was so quick. Otherwise you couldn't have done it like that.

How is April doing with the loss of her hand? We saw her with a nice black glove on yesterday.

She's gotten really used to it. It's a prosthetic, but it functions as a hand and she covers it up with a glove, and that's why she covers it so you don't see it's metal, whatever. It's almost like she's become the Bionic Woman. It's so strong. It's metal. She could grab this and toss it over there if she wanted. She has this super power, a super hero almost with her hand. It's been really fun to play that part of the film, which, obviously she never had before.

In the first movie, I think she was kind of weak, April. She was scared, she was weak, she didn't care. Second movie...she learned how to fight a sharknado in the first one so, in the second one, she knew what a sharknado was. She's prepared. She left the hospital, she got stronger, she wrote a book. Her whole character had an arc.

In this one, it's a whole different April. Now, she's pregnant, she's stronger.

It is the 40th anniversary of Jaws, which is also a Universal property. What's your take on Sharknado sort of sharing that space with Jaws?

Jaws scared me to death, but Sharknado doesn't scare you to death. Sharknado's more of a family movie. It's fun. Jaws is scary. It has an impact. You have nightmares about Jaws and it scares you about sharks. This movie doesn't scare you about sharks because it's so outrageous and they're not real sharks, where Jaws looked real. We're acting to nothing. It's all CGI. We're like, "Aagh!" They're like, "There's a shark." "Oh my god, it's a shark!" It's over the top, and I think that's what makes Sharknado so successful is that you're acting to nothing, but the whole concept is so extreme and crazy, but if you play it deadpan and serious, it makes it funny. Now, if we were laughing with it, it wouldn't be funny, so you have to make such the most bizarre experiences seem real and that's where the joke comes in. I think that's why Sharknado works.

Is it easier to act serious when you don't know what the final composite shot is going to be, or do you know?

No, it's so much not. It's not easier at all. It's so different, because normally you know, OK, here's a camera coming or here's this, take up the microphone. You have complete direction. On this film, there's not direction because none of us know where the sharks are coming in. We have to really guess. We have to have a great imagination and still play that.

You're three movies in. Your character has literally written the book on surviving a sharknado. Do you have any survival tips?

Just try really hard not to go near the sharks when they're coming at you. If they're coming at you, hide or have some kind of weapon. I think everyone needs some kind of weapon. You can't really carry around a saw with you. It's a little ridiculous. Just try to stay under metal. Metal works the best for the shark not to get to you. Not plastic, not anything else, not even the sky, not buildings, but metal keeps you pretty safe. So, walk around in a cage, basically.

Speaking of storylines, where do you want the next one to be?

You know, everyone always asks us that question, each one, and the truth is, we have no idea. Thunder Levin, the writer, brings it to a place. Even after the second one, we thought, how could we beat the second? What are we going to do? How could we make it more creative, and funny, and keep the franchise going? But they just do. They just do. This one is out of control.

We actually made three endings for this film. Even I don't know which one they're going to pick. It's insane. It's really interesting. They're very clever on this movie. They're very smart. They know what they're doing.

At first, the first one was supposed to be called Dark Skies. I thought, I could do that movie. No one's going to see it or hear about it called Dark Skies, it's fine. Then they said to me, "No, we're going to call it Sharknado." Everyone got on the phone, "We can't be in a movie called Sharknado. Are you joking me? IMDB's going to say, Sharknado? It would look so bad." It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They were absolutely right about it. It became a cult phenomenon and here we are Sharknado 3 doing the press junket.

More from around the web