SHARK SLAYER CASSANDRA SCERBO GEARS UP FOR “SHARKNADO 5: GLOBAL WARMING”
It’s Shark Week again, and that could only mean one thing; science-fiction fans everywhere are gearing up for the annual beloved summer tradition of a new installment of the hit television blockbuster franchise; “Sharknado”– a series that has defied all expectations with its tongue-in-cheek humor and beautifully self-aware satire. And while the Syfy phenomenon’s fan-base is undeniably colossal, when it comes to the legions of fans devoted to the movies’ butt-kicking beauty Cassandra Scerbo; “Sharknado” is going to need a bigger boat!
And that’s not to say Scerbo didn’t already start out as an extremely adored starlet. Having already gotten her big break in fan-favorite projects like “Bring It On: In It To Win It,” and ABC Family’s gymnast hit “Make It Or Break It,” the luminous Italian-American actress quickly back-flipped her way into the hearts of fans everywhere. Having always possessed a strong ability to understand comedy- whether subversive or more direct- the sharp talent showed that she was a shoe-in for more adult material that called for those kinds of performers- and that’s when “Sharknado” stormed into her life.
Surrounded by other actors who have always seemed very adept at understanding camp and how to make it work, such as Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Frankie Muniz, and Julie McCullough, Scerbo has now managed to find a solid home for her magnetic gifts as she plays around in a universe where the cast is allowed to know how ridiculous their setting is, and they are given full freedom to raise the stakes. For an actor, the “Sharknado” franchise is a fun playground where they can explore any kind of campy comedy they choose- and for a bold thrill-seeker like Cassandra, the actress is always up for a fun new challenge- and for watching her character grow from beach babe to warrior woman. Overjoyed to show that she’s more than just eye-candy, the powerful performer proves now in the fifth installment that she’s just as much an action star as the best of them as her character Nova Clarke forms the “Sharknado Sisterhood”– an army of women dedicated to facing the inclement shark weather, and as silly as these storms may be, Scerbo is very proud of the underlying message of her elevated role.
And with “Sharknado 5” revving up to be the most epic film in the franchise yet, there’s no slowing down the ever-rising actress. Fans can also expect to see her later this year in “Truth Or Dare,” a film made by director Nick Simon- who has been mentored by the master of horror himself; Wes Craven. Again, always up for a challenge, the raven-haired beauty claims that the new horror flick has been her most difficult and rewarding film yet to date- and we can’t wait to see it!
With “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming” airing tonight on Syfy and every shark slaying moment sure to be the water-cooler talk of Monday morning, we made it a point to catch up with Cassandra and ask her about what we can expect from the new film, what is up with her character Nova Clarke and the Sharknado Sisterhood, and what the future holds for her. Read below to see what Scerbo had to say!
WINGMAN: So, let’s start with “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.” Could you ever have expected the franchise would become this big? What did you originally think when you first signed on to the project? The camp is really fun and smart satire!
CASSANDRA SCERBO: Of course, I never expected the franchise to blow up like this. I was on an ABC Family show called “Make It Or Break” it for a while at that point, and when you’re playing any character for so many years you get so excited to step into different shoes and play other roles. I was just so excited to trade in my leotard for a shotgun and combat boots and run around town chasing sharks! [Laughs] For me, it was just the opportunity to do something very different- which is so important. But, what I learned about this script was that it was so crazy and so ridiculous, that I almost couldn’t say no. It was just so intriguing to me. And it wasn’t even called “Sharknado” at the time, actually. It was titled “Dark Skies.” So, I think the name had a lot to do with why it blew up- everyone was asking; “What is a Sharknado?!” And that went viral, and it trended on twitter. I remember when our director, Anthony C. Ferrante, came to set and told us that they were changing the title to “Sharknado”– we thought they were joking. We couldn’t believe that “Sharknado” would be on our IMDB pages! [Laughs again] And yet, to be quite honest, it was genius. I think the title played a huge part in making the franchise what it is now. But, I never thought it would be this big, and it’s such a gift and so exciting. I always say it’s like a big party every time we shoot them and every time they air. It’s a very fun project to be a part of, and we’re on number five- not many projects get that gift. So, it’s wonderful to have this following and the amazing support from Syfy. They like to consider us their Superbowl of summer! It’s great.
WINGMAN: When Wingman interviewed Julie McCullough, she mentioned a similar story about the origin of the franchise and it’s title.
SCERBO: I think it’s just one of those things where we are really in on the joke and that’s why people love it so much. And Sci-fi fans are great, and shark week fans are great. People throw these parties, and have costume contests, cake-making contests- I’ve even heard of people doing Sharknado themes for their weddings! They go all out. A nurse in a children’s hospital stopped me to tell me what a fan she was of the franchise! I barely look at it as a movie anymore, it’s a brand- and it’s so much fun!
WINGMAN: Your character, Nova Clarke, has gone through quite the evolution and she’s really pretty kick-ass now. Talk about her growth and how you like playing these kinds of characters.
SCERBO: Thank you! I do like playing these characters, and I feel as though it was a collaboration between how I presented Nova through the acting and also how I would talk about her to the writers and directors. I would share my thoughts, and they were always super on board. She’s always been pretty bad-ass and a really tough girl, but throughout the films- and especially in this film- she really grows even more into her strength and really does her research, so to speak. So, not only is she bad-ass, and in every installment she has cooler weaponry and what-not, but she’s also a lot smarter in the science of the sharknadoes [Cracks up], that sounds so silly, but it’s true. She’s really figured out every aspect of why these storms happen, and she’s investigating ocean life, and sharks, and the whole deal. So, she’s smarter, she’s stronger, and in this film in particular she actually forms her own army and it’s called “The Sharknado Sisterhood.” And it’s just so cool. They have this battle station where they do all their research and prepare to go to war with all these sharks, and it’s really cool to play a character where I started out as a beach girl in a shark movie and now here we are four films later and she’s somewhat of a superhero. My character’s costume is so cool, and very Wonder Woman-esque, since you know “Sharknado” likes to throw Easter Eggs to everything going on in pop culture. But, this time around I really enjoyed embodying that female empowerment and feeling the girl power in this role. It was great to have this team of girls that were very strong, and I couldn’t be more thankful to the writers for this evolution. It’s a lot of fun to play, and you’ll really get to see how far Nova has come.
WINGMAN: Your co stars are great and some of our favorite heroes, Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Frankie Muniz, Julie McCullough, and now you get to work alongside Margaret Cho, Olivia Newton-John, Gilbert Gottfried, Dolph Lundgren, Bret Michaels, and many more in the new film. Talk about working with such fun people.
CASSANDRA SCERBO: That’s another really great part about these movies; all the fans know that they have a great cast, but each film comes with tons of wonderful surprise cameos. We don’t work with these actors often because they’re all shot in different places as the movie is shot in about five different countries and we are spread out all over, so, I might not have gotten the opportunity to have worked with some of the people you just mentioned, but it’s always fun and exciting because everyone always wants to either be killed by a shark in these movies, or kill a shark in these movies! I have worked with Chris Kattan, and he is fantastic. And I’ve met Mark Cuban, and become friends with so many amazing people from all different areas of entertainment through “Sharknado.” Sports stars, news reporters, reality stars- we get to meet so many people and I’m so grateful for that, and it’s great to be able to say hello to someone around town as we share this common bond.
WINGMAN: And you also have a new movie coming out called “Truth or Dare.” What can fans expect from that movie?
CASSANDRA SCERBO: I believe “Truth Or Dare” is set to come out around October. We shot that in Birmingham, Alabama with an incredible cast and a wonderful director named Nick Simon- who I was a huge fan of previously. He had written and directed “The Girl In The Photographs,” which was actually the last film produced by Wes Craven before he died- so, for horror fans, it’s very exciting to be a part of a project with Nick Simon who was mentored by someone was great as Wes Craven; the king of horror. So, it’s very gory, very gritty, it’s a psychological thriller, and I’d say it was just about the most challenging role I’ve ever played. It essentially centers around eight people in their twenties who go away for an overnight trip to a spooky house that one friend finds online. They expect to crack open some beers and tell scary stories and joke around, and the house turns out to actually be haunted. So, they defy the rules of the house and play a game of truth or dare, and the game then plays them as it preys upon their fears, secrets and weaknesses and the characters wind up having to do extreme dares to one another in order to survive. It’s a little like “Saw,” but with its own twist. It’s shot very well, and it’s very gorgeous- even for a horror film. Nick really knows what he is doing, lighting-wise. It was just the perfect horror movie house. And it was an incredible experience being able to dig deep with all my co-stars and create these dynamics with all the dares we had to do. It was a lot of fun and very challenging!
WINGMAN: And many of your fans know you from “Make It Or Break It.” Do you still keep in touch with your former co-stars?
CASSANDRA SCERBO: Yes, I was just with Josie Loren at Lucky Strike for her fiancé’s annual charity benefit for his foundation, so I got to check up with them. Chelsea Hobbs is now living back in Canada, but we’re still very close. And I actually just ran into Ayla Kell at the NBA play-offs, so I’ve been in touch with all of them. When you shoot with people for so long, you become like family. We’re like sisters. We might go a few months and not see one another, but we pick up right where we left off.
WINGMAN: You’re in TVs hottest blockbuster franchise and you’re getting the opportunity to work with some really awesome people. Who else would you love to work with, and what other roles would you love to play?
SCERBO: When it comes to roles, I want to play anything and everything that’s different. It’s always about stepping outside my comfort zone and stepping outside the box. I want to break stereotypes. I started out playing cheerleaders and a gymnast, and then I moved on and took on an action role, and now I did this really gritty indie- and I just want to keep surprising people and continue changing it up. I feel like when you act, each time you take on a role it’s like taking another class in psychology because you learn more about yourself. You’re researching all these different characters and figuring out what makes them tick, what are their relationships, what’s important to them, and so on. As a whole, I do love drama- yes, but I’m game for anything and everything. Anything that’s written well and might surprise audiences. As for who I’d like to work with, I don’t know one actor that wouldn’t say Meryl Streep- she is unbelievably talented and the queen. I know it’s an obvious answer, but I’d love nothing more than to work with someone of her stature and learn from someone like that. There are millions of actors I look up to, though. I love Ashley Judd, and Kate Winslet, and Robert DeNiro and all the fun comedies he is doing these days- they are great! I love Michael Pitt- I think he is such an incredible actor. I would love to work with someone like him. He always goes this really cool indie route and picks his roles so strategically. I love everything he’s done, and I just think he’s incredible. So, I would love to work with people who I feel are deep-routed souls in both real life and on film- I think it shines through, and I’d love to share a screen with anyone like that.
WINGMAN: What can we expect from “Sharknado 5”?
SCERBO: It’s definitely the biggest storm yet! We’ve gone global, and we are technically saving the world in this one. I got to see a few clips, and the movie just looks so big– if that makes sense. We got to shoot so many different landmarks and we’re in so many different countries and we got to work with so many different cultures- it was a blast. We got to shoot at Parliament, Big Ben, the Colosseum, Stonehenge- we got to do truly epic things in this movie, and I think for fans it will be very aesthetically pleasing for them to watch. There’s just so much to see and it just looks better than ever.
And one more thing fans can expect from the biggest television blockbuster franchise of summer? They can definitely expect to fall in love with shark-slaying beauty Cassandra Scerbo all over again!
“Sharknado 5: Global Swarming” airs tonight, Sunday, August 6th, 8/7c on Syfy.