President Donald Trump was originally signed on to play ‘The President’ in 2015’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!


The DC-set disaster film’s first choice for the role was former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, but those negotiations fell through. Ian Ziering, the star of the ridiculous franchise, inspired the casting directors to go after Trump because of the relationship he’d formed with him during Celebrity Apprentice.

“The Donald said yes,” recalls David Latt, one of the creators of Sharknado, told MSN. “He was thrilled to be asked.” Unfortunately, Trump never made his mark. But that didn’t stop casting director Scotty Mullen from grabbing more than 80 celebs to do appearances in Sharknado 5: Global Swimming. “It’s the long-lost love child of The Love Boat and Hollywood Squares,” he jokes.

Of those who appear are Charo as the Queen of England, Fabio as the Pope, Clay Aiken as Q from James Bond, and Olivia Newton-John in her first screen role in 17 years. What started out as a hilariously terrible idea of a film on the Syfy network, has become a well-loved franchise hit, pulling in millions of viewers with each sequel.

The low-budget flick was just one in a serious of crazy disaster movies, but this one stuck. Syfy paid screenwriter Thunder Levin $6,000 to turn just the word “sharknado” into a compelling film, and he delivered. It took more than 100 tries to land a leading actor, with Kevin DillonDave FoleySeth GreenJohn Stamos, and Crispin Glover all turning down the role before producers found Ziering, who apparently only said yes because his wife wanted him to be able to join SAG for the medical insurance.

Syfy almost missed this incredible franchise winner because they briefly changed the name to Dark Skies. Luckily for them, they went back to the original, regardless of how the cast felt about “Sharknado.” Once the first film received moderate praise and gifted enjoyment to so many, the sequel Sharknado 2 already had actors wanting in. “Everybody wanted to be involved,” recalls casting director Gerald Webb. “Every C-list and D-list actor on the planet.”

A-listers were harder to come by at that time, but they managed to snag Judd HirschRobert HaysBiz Markie, and Richard Kind. Mullen got the job of writing for and finding the cameo actors, and discovered that publicists are much more interested in the value of a cameo than agents are, who only care about the money. Andy DickPerez Hilton, and even Jared Fogle appeared in Sharknado 2. One of the few to ever have been turned down for a cameo appearance was porn star Ron Jeremy, who showed up to pitch himself.

This time around, for Sharknado 5, everything is bigger, including the budget, which hit $3 million. The star salaries increased as well, with Ziering earning $500,000 per film. Unsurprisingly, but still upsettingly, co-star Tara Reid makes about a quarter of what her male co-star earns. “Sharknado cares more about their ‘extra-of-the-day’ than about their own cast,” Reid explained.

“We look for cameos from all areas of pop culture to appeal to every fan watching the movie,” said Josh Van Houdt, Syfy’s VP of original co-productions. “Whether we’re casting a professional athlete, reality star, actor, musician or politician, our goal is to include a wide variety of stars for viewers to either get excited about or, on the flip side, witness getting eaten by a shark in a spectacular fashion.”

Which brings us back to Trump. Apparently talks went pretty far until Trump’s side was quiet for a few weeks. So the film went on its way without him, until they got a call from Trump’s lawyer. “He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We’re going to sue you! We’re going to shut the entire show down!'”

Webb, now at his own production company recalls the incident. “I took it personally, but I get it now,” he says. “That was my moment of doing business with Donald Trump. And that’s Sharknado.”

Sharknado 5: Global Swimming will premiere on Syfy on Aug. 6.

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