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David Hasselhoff on Baywatch, Knight Rider, and getting “really close” to being Superman

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Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images. Graphic: Allison Corr.
Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images. Graphic: Allison Corr.

In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.

Everyone knows who David Hasselhoff is. The Baywatch and Knight Rider star has managed to stay relevant for almost 40 years, even setting a Guinness World Record for being the most-watched man on TV. Over the years, he’s enjoyed a successful singing career—he’s huge in Germany, and in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2—starred in a satirical Netflix series, Hoff The Record; and even launched his own fan-friendly cruise, which will float around the Mediterranean Sea this November. If you’re more into staying on land, you can catch The Hoff in Killing Hasselhoff, a WWE-produced, celebrity-death-pool-themed satire that also stars Ken Jeong, Jon Lovitz, Gena Lee Nolin, Rhys Darby, Jim Jeffries, Kid Cudi, and Howie Mandel.


Despite his busy schedule, Hasselhoff still managed to take some time—presumably while standing on the beach, majestically—to talk to us for 11 Questions.

1. If you could spend the rest of your life inside one movie or TV show, what would it be and why?

David Hasselhoff: That would be Knight Rider. The theme of Knight Rider was that one man can make a difference. It’s made such a big difference in so many lives. Without Knight Rider, I wouldn’t have been in Guardians, and without Knight Rider, I wouldn’t be in development for another TV series.


It affected so many people. The audience that watched it has all grown up. They’re telling me, “I love you, man! Can I tell you my Knight Rider story?” It affected them when they were 8 or 9 years old, and sometimes it brought them through a rough time. I respond to that, you know. I say, “God, this is so cool.”

2. Do you have a favorite swear word or phrase? How often do you use it, and in what circumstances?

DH: I’ll reference a line that’s my all-time favorite line in any movie or TV show or commercial I’ve ever done. It was in Nick Fury. A guy walks up to Nick Fury, played by David Hasselhoff, and he says, “So, Fury, you surprised to see me?” And I go, “Not really. Guys like you tend to cling to the bowl no matter how many times you flush.” And I love that, and that applies to so many people in Hollywood. It’s such a great line, and it was written by David Goyer, when Marvel wasn’t Marvel. People are like, “What?” It was a TV movie for Fox. Now it’s a billion dollar business.

3. How did you spend your last birthday?

DH: I had a fantastic birthday! I was in Maastricht, doing an André Rieu concert. I happened to have my birthday off, so my fiancée said, “What do I give this guy who’s got everything?” She figured it out. She rented an entire movie theater, and it was she and I, and we ate as much garbage food as we can, because we never eat garbage food, and we watched Guardians Of The Galaxy without any interruption, and just snuggled. It was the best, coolest birthday I could possibly imagine.


I got a chance to really listen to how they use the name “Hasselhoff” in the movie. I can’t wait to see it again, actually. That was great. I have pictures of that online, if you want to find it on Facebook. It’s awesome.

4. What’s the worst professional advice you’ve ever received?

DH: A long time ago, I was up for Superman, and my manager at the time said to me, “I don’t think you should do Superman, because if you do Superman, you’ll be Superman for the rest of your life.” And you know, Christopher Reeve went on to be Superman in real life and in films and in all kinds of different films. That was probably the worst advice.


When people say, “You’re such a nice guy. You still embrace Knight Rider and Baywatch! Most actors get really upset!” What? Why?! I mean, look at Schwarzenegger. He went right back to the Terminator. Get over it. You’re lucky if you get one hit. You’re freaking lucky if you get one hit! I’ve had like five or six. So that’s the advice I got, and I’m still laughing about that, because I was really close to getting Superman, and we pulled out of it.

5. If you were a medical doctor, what kind of medical doctor would you be, and why?

DH: I would probably be a heart doctor, because I’ve had so much experience with heart doctors, just in my family. My physician is one of the top heart specialists at Cedars, and it just fascinates me what they can do and how they can actually save people’s lives, and how you can actually turn your life around by concentrating on bringing your heart down to the right speed, or reducing the size of your heart, just by food and meditation and positive thinking.


I think I would be a heart doctor. Either that, or a veterinarian. I just love animals. I’m a complete animal freak. But I would definitely be a heart doctor. I wouldn’t be a psychiatrist. That’d be too heavy.

6. What’s your perfect Sunday?

DH: My perfect Sunday is getting in the car, driving as fast as I want on a road that I know is safe, going to a Thai restaurant, and just driving to a secluded beach and jumping into the waves to see if I still got it, and braving the cold water. Then I’d come back and watch the sunset, and maybe watch some whales swim out in front of me. Because I’m the Baywatch guy, I know where you can go. I know where you can see pods of dolphins and whales.


Just something that has to do with water. I don’t have a boat anymore, but I used to have a boat, and that was a big deal to me, to take the boat out on the ocean. It still is. Those days will come again. I’ve been spending so much time abroad, I haven’t had time to even embrace where I live in America, in Calabasas.

7. What do you get snobby about?

DH: I get crabby about not having a call sheet. Because that’s all I want, a call sheet. If I get a call sheet, whether it’s with André Rieu or the new Hoff The Record, which is on Netflix. Or do Killing Hasselhoff, which is a low-budget movie that I so believed in and put my heart and soul into it. Just give me a call sheet. I get crabby about having to open all the doors myself, because it’s just exhausting.


However, without that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. You have to be in control of your own destiny, and if you’re not, you start blaming other people, and you realize, that’s not going to do it. Maybe they’re capable of getting you more money, but the one who’s capable of doing it is you, and you only have yourself to blame, so you’ve got to be in control of your own destiny.

8. What book have you read the most?

DH: Probably the best book that I’ve ever read was by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde quotes just go get it. It’s just ridiculous. This guy was such a brilliant guy and died so young, and I just absolutely love his quotes, because he has such an insight into humanity. Oscar Wilde. Quotes from Oscar Wilde.


9. What are you afraid of?

DH: Every actor probably says the same thing. Not working. Not having another hit single. Not having another hit TV show. As much as I hate being recognized, probably not being recognized. I’m afraid of that, because there are a lot of perks to this business, and the people that complain about it are so full of shit, it’s unbelievable. To be David Hasselhoff, you don’t have wait in line for a table… it’s nice. It’s really nice. And for that, I have to sign autographs and take pictures with just about everybody I know, or don’t know. Anybody. So it’s a double-edged sword, but I’m most afraid of not working.


10. Who are you a big fan of that we wouldn’t necessarily guess that you’re a big fan of?

DH: Well, the person that I admired most next to my father, who passed away, was Sammy Davis Jr. Sammy Davis Jr. had to fight through the color barrier. He had to fight losing an eye. He really had to fight his whole life. And he’s such a brilliant singer. The fact that he knew me and knew who I was, because he used to watch a soap opera called The Young And The Restless. Have you watched it? He actually knew me.


It was the same thing with Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali said to me, “Hey, Knight Rider, you’re pretty but not as pretty as me!” And I thought, “Muhammad Ali actually knows who I am?” Give me a break. I turn around, there was Muhammad Ali. Suddenly we became friends. That was years ago, and we never looked back.

11. What advice would you give to your younger self?

DH: Don’t take life so seriously! Have fun, man! Have fun. Cherish every moment. Stay in the game. Never say no. Always say yes. Turn lemons into lemonade. Don’t take it seriously.


The best advice I can give everybody—and I have to give myself this advice every day—is life isn’t fair. When you realize life isn’t fair, and you realize, “Why am I walking? Why am I okay? Why am I complaining about whatever, when the person next to me has a terminal illness or passes away or is in a wheelchair?” It’s like, come on, man. Look what’s going on in Barcelona. It’s like, ridiculous, you know? Life isn’t fair, and once you realize that, you don’t take it seriously and just keep moving forward, so you’re going to make it.

Bonus 12th question from Dan Savage: When was your last three-way?

DH: A real man will never tell you when or the truth or anything, because that’s personal. I think that that’s the way to look at stuff like that, because that’s too personal. No one will ever know.


The A.V. Club: What do you want to ask the next person, not knowing who you’re asking?

DH: Why do you take life so seriously?

AVC: Do you have an answer for your own question?

DH: Well, I take my work seriously. I just worked with André Rieu. When you walk into a room with an 85-piece orchestra, you better know what you’re doing. Or you walk in to do Guardians Of The Galaxy, which made $150 million, you better know what you’re doing. So you’ve got to be prepared. Luck is being prepared for opportunity when it presents itself. And I’ve been there. I’ve been to places where opportunity was right in front of me, but I blew it, because I wasn’t ready. You’ve got to be ready.