Actor Robert Hays has a huge amount of film and television credits, including the title role as an alien with a half-human son in the TV series version of STARMAN. However, it’s likely that the Maryland native will always be best-known and loved for his role as disaster-plagued Captain Ted Stryker in the comedy classic film AIRPLANE! and AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL.
Hays has once again taken to the unfriendly skies as an airplane captain, this one named Bob Wilson, in Syfy’s monster hit SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE. For those who still don’t know, like last year’s SHARKNADO, the film concerns storms that pick up huge numbers of sharks and dump them on a city. The first SHARKNADO was set and filmed in Los Angeles and THE SECOND ONE was shot on location in New York City, although the airplane scenes were done in a studio in L.A. that contains nothing but airplane sets – including the one for original AIRPLANE!. SHARKNADO leads Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back as Fin and April, trying to save the Big Apple this time; both films were written by Thunder Levin and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante.
All of the above people and quite a few more are at a red carpet big screen premiere for SHARKNADO 2 at L.A.’s downtown Regal Cinemas, where Hays steps to one side to cordially answer some questions.
AX: AIRPLANE! was …
ROBERT HAYS: Intense. Intense, heavy drama.
AX: Did you feel in any way that you were returning to AIRPLANE! turf with SHARKNADO 2?
HAYS: I suppose. I was in a cockpit, flying a plane. I suppose somewhere there’s a little similarity in there. And we were filming right next to the original AIRPLANE! set, so I guess you couldn’t quite help not [feeling that].
AX: When you were approached with SHARKNADO 2, what did they tell you?
HAYS: My manager called me and said, “They want you to do a cameo on this thing called SHARKNADO.” I had vaguely heard something about SHARKNADO. I didn’t know what it was. And my son Jake has a band, Maudlin Strangers, it’s an alternative rock band, and he is much smarter than I am. I said, “Jake, they want me to do this cameo in this thing called SHARKNADO, and he said [urgent voice], “Dad, you’ve got to do it! You’ve got to do it!” So I said, “Okay, all right, let’s see. What is it you want me to do?” “We want you to be a pilot?” [laughs] “Oh, jeez. All right.” And I read it. I thought, “Yeah, what the heck, sure. I think I could do this and maybe get away with my life, still.” So …
AX: How was Anthony C. Ferrante as a director?
HAYS: He’s really wonderful. I think Anthony directed it so well, because I think he had what was required to get what they needed for the show. He’s focused, lots of energy, he’s creative, he helps you get your creative juices going, he knew what it was that he wanted, he wanted to keep it serious. I really think he did a terrific job. And it looks like all of the ratings and all of this stuff is proving him to be right. I loved working with him. I hope we get to work together again sometime. It was terrific. And our producers on the set were great. The crew, everyone. Rachel [True], my co-pilot, she was great fun to work with.
AX: Does your son Jake’s band Maudlin Strangers have a song in the movie?
HAYS: No. He’s been playing a residency at the Bootleg Theatre, every Monday in August. He’s got one more show this Monday night [August 25]. He’s been playing the Troubador and the Roxy and all sorts of places. They’re doing really well. They were voted Number One Audience Favorite on KROQ their first week, and they stayed in the Top Five for four weeks, so they’re doing well.
AX: So you’re proud.
HAYS: Proud papa. Proud papa and also grip and road crew.
AX: Is he proud of you for doing SHARKNADO 2?
HAYS: Yeah, he got a kick out of it, he liked it. He thought it was fun.
AX: Do you have any thought looking back at STARMAN?
HAYS: It was a wonderful experience. STARMAN was probably the Number One special thing on TV for me, and AIRPLANE! was the Number One film for me. I loved it.
AX: Anything else you would like to say about SHARKNADO 2?
HAYS: What can you say about a movie full of sharks flying around in the air, biting people’s heads off? What can you really say, except, “Wow.” “Ouch.” “Oh, my gosh.” “Holy smokes.” “What the …”
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Article: Robert Hays flies again in SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE – Exclusive Interview