'Sharknado 3' Star Tara Reid on Love, Family Values and "Getting More Bad-Ass"

Sharknado 3 Still - H 2015

Sharknado 3 Still - H 2015

Tara Reid may have walked into the first Sharknado already having a certain amount of film-franchise experience under her belt — thanks to American Pie and its sequels — but the adventures of Jim, Finch, Oz and Stifler can't hold a candle to the sci-fi social media phenomenon that she and co-star Ian Ziering have been caught up in.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Reid in advance of the premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! to discuss playing Bo Derek's TV daughter, what her character April's artificial hand brings to the table and how much a mentor Ziering has been to her over the course of the franchise.

It seems like you and the rest of the regulars are having as much fun in the new film as you've had in the previous two.

Definitely. But I think that's kind of what keeps the franchise and Sharknado going: it's fun, and it keeps surprising you.

The ongoing evolution of April's artificial hand is certainly surprising.

[Laughs.] Yes! The hand is definitely a huge tool in this movie. It does many, many things, and I think it's brilliant the way they utilize it. I love the way they kind of made the hand a character of its own.

Did you enjoy having Bo Derek as a TV mom?

Oh, she's wonderful. I mean, she's an icon! So when they told me that Bo Derek was going to be playing my mother, I was, like, "Are you kidding me?" I was so excited. I mean, if I had to pick a favorite celebrity that I worked with in the film, it'd be her. She was on a fishing trip when she got the offer, and the people that she was fishing with told her about the movies. They were huge fans of Sharknado, so she said, "OK, I'm gonna do it!" She's great. She knows it's fun and silly, and she played right into it. She's a total trooper.

Was finding the right tone ever a problem for you, or did you have it down pretty well from the beginning?

Oh, yeah, we knew that going into it. You have to play it seriously, or the joke's gone. Playing it seriously in the middle of these crazy, ridiculous circumstances is what gives it the laughs. That's what makes it work.

Did you enjoy getting to play pregnant throughout the course of the new film?

The fact that April is pregnant really shows the love and the family values that are part of the franchise. In the first one, it starts off where Fin (Ziering) and I are breaking up, we're not together, and the second one, we're making a commitment and we get remarried. And now in the third one, they're having a child together. We've really brought it full circle.

That's an observation Ian made as well: that family is the foundation of these films.

Oh, absolutely. I agree with that 100 percent.

Do you feel that April has grown as a character?

Definitely. In the first one, she was weaker, and then in the second one she gets stronger as she's with her husband. When she's with Fin, she grows with him, and she sees what a hero he is. By the second one, she's getting more bad-ass. [Laughs.] And now she has this hand, and she's fighting not only against the sharks but for the love of her husband.

You and Ian have developed a great onscreen camaraderie.

Ian and I have such a great relationship. I can talk to him about anything. If I'm not getting something, he's explained things to me — he's extremely smart — and I've gotten it. He's been a mentor to me throughout this whole franchise. He's just awesome.

It seems like he's really setting a positive tone on the set. He mentioned how he makes sure that all the newbies remember to always keep in the back of their mind that "there are sharks, and they are coming for you."

I remember distinctly where there was a scene on the plane [in Sharknado 2] where the sharks were attacking, and you had to be scared, but some of the other extras were laughing and acting like it was funny. And we were like, "That's not going to work; if there were really sharks attacking the plane, people would be scared!" So Ian's, like, "You can't be laughing, you guys." He makes it real. He really makes it come alive. But you have to have an imagination when you're making these movies. With all the special effects coming in after the fact, you have to trust that the sharks are even going to be there! [Laughs.]

What's your take on Sharknado as a social media phenomenon?

It's great. It's incredible how much social media has impacted the franchise. This is really about the fans. If it wasn't for them, we would never have been doing these other films.

Sharknado airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Syfy. Stay tuned to The Live Feed for more Sharknado coverage.