Sharknado star Ian Ziering only made movie to afford SAG healthcare

EXCLUSIVE: Sharknado star Ian Ziering admits he only made cult 2013 movie so he could earn enough money to qualify for union healthcare – and because his agent promised it would ‘go straight to DVD and disappear’

  • Ian, 59, plays the role of Fin Shepard in all six films in the Sharknado franchise 
  • Actor admits he did the job ‘begrudgingly’ and ‘didn’t really care’ about the film
  • His comments come as the SAG-AFTRA strikes continue across the US

Sharknado actor Ian Ziering has admitted he only he starred in the surprise cult hit film series because he needed to make enough money to afford union healthcare.

Ian, 59, plays the role of former surfer and shark hunter, Fin Shepard, in the six-part comedy horror disaster movies, but says he initially only agreed to take on the part when his agent promised him that no one was ‘going to see it.’

Speaking exclusively to during an appearance at Comic Con in San Diego, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star said he did Sharknado ‘begrudgingly’ and ‘didn’t really care’ about the franchise.

Referring to the very first movie, which was released in 2013, Ian said: ‘This was supposed to go right to DVD and disappear. That’s what my agent said, “Don’t worry about it. No one’s going to see it.” And I’m like, “Oh, alright.”

‘It was all about making the nut for healthcare that’s provided by my union and that movie did that,’ he continued. 

Honest truth: Sharknado actor Ian Ziering has admitted he only he starred in the film series so that he could afford healthcare

Ongoing role: Ian, now 59, plays the role of former surfer and shark hunter, Fin Shepard, in the six comedy horror disaster movies

Speaking out: The actor said that he did the 2013 film ‘begrudgingly’ and ‘didn’t really care’ about it

‘So, I did it begrudgingly, but as with everything, they hired me as an actor. I show up, I do my work. I do the best that I can, and I had a lot of fun, that’s for sure.’

Ian went on to admit that he assumed nobody would ever see the movie – which also starred Tara Reid and ended up – to his surprise – becoming a cultural phenomenon that sparked multiple sequels and garnered an enormous fan base.  

‘I did not have a lot of confidence,’ he confessed. ‘Actually, I didn’t really care. I didn’t think anyone was going to see this movie. So, I had fun with it, and it turned into Sharknado one two, three, four, five, six.’

He went on to describe Sharknado’s legacy as ‘the best, worst movie people ever saw,’ and shared his thoughts on whether or not he thinks there will be another movie.

‘It’s all about those that hold the strings and if they decide they want to do it again,’ Ian explained.

‘There is certainly a fan base. We stopped making them because interest had weighed, production costs had gone up and it just wasn’t cost-effective. 

‘But everything old is new again. ‘We are talking about the 10-year anniversary and next year we’ll talk about the 10-year anniversary of Sharknado 2, right?’ 

Ian also revealed that he thinks the only reason he was allowed to do his own stunts in the movies is because they ‘were going to save some money.’

‘”Sure Ian. You could do it. We just saved 900 bucks on the stunt. Man, go ahead. You’re great”,’ he joked.

Truth time: Ian admitted that the job was ‘all about making the nut for healthcare that’s provided by my union’

A few films later: Ian in Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens alongside co-star Masiela Lusha

‘I’ve always been athletic, and I like challenging myself. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything really well, but I’ve got a penchant for adrenaline. So that was just fun. I mean, I had fun making these movies.’

However, Ian – nor any stunt actors – will be getting an adrenaline rush any time soon as members of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) continue to strike.

The Hollywood actors union joined screenwriters on strike in June for the first time in more than six decades. 

On Monday, Harrison Ford’s stunt double Mike Massa set himself on fire at a strike picket line in Georgia in a shocking moment caught on video.

Massa, 55, marched out with flames consuming his back while holding a picket sign that read: ‘SAG-AFTRA ON STRIKE!’ 

Low-wage Hollywood workers have also been speaking out in recent weeks and exposed the brutal financial toll the strikes are having on crew members.

Actors have been sharing their stories too, and earlier this month, Matilda star Mara Wilson revealed she has never earned enough money to qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare. 

Taking to Twitter, the actress wrote: ‘I haven’t acted much as an adult, but I WAS on a recurring character on one of the most critically acclaimed animated shows of all time, as well playing an actual Disney villain.

Harrison Ford’s stunt double Mike Massa set himself on fire at a strike picket line in Georgia on Monday

Having her say: Matilda star Mara Wilson striking in front of the Netflix headquarters in California on July 24

Standing together: Hollywood stars such as Kevin Bacon have been showing their support in recent weeks

‘But thanks to streaming, I have never once made enough to qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare.’

Wilson, 35, rose to fame in 1993 at the age of six after scoring the role of Natalie ‘Nattie’ Hillard in the film Mrs. Doubtfire at her first movie audition, having only appeared in a few television commercials before. 

She went on to play Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street the following year and starred in the lead role of Matilda Wormwood in the film Matilda in 1996 – cementing her place as one of the most recognizable child stars in the 90s.

However, as an adult, the former Hollywood darling has taken a major step back from on-camera work, instead lending her vocal talents to animated shows.

In the tweet, the star – who has an estimated net worth of $500,000 – was referencing her roles in Netflix black comedy, BoJack Horseman, and Disney’s Big Hero 6 TV series, respectively.

SAG-AFTRA has often been criticized for their ‘unfair’ requirements in order for actor’s to qualify for health coverage.

The organization currently states that you ‘must earn $26,470 in your Base Earnings Period to receive Earned Eligibility for Active Plan health coverage.’

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