It's 33 years since David Hasselhoff first burst onto screens in Knight Rider and 16 since he introduced the slo-mo Baywatch beach run.
Now set to send himself up, playing a fictionalised version of 'The Hoff' in new series Hoff The Record, the 62-year-old talks to Susan Griffin about the unbelievable events in his life that inspired the show
What can you tell us about your new series Hoff the Record?
It was the most surreal experience, it's almost as if I stepped out of my life and watched it being filmed because everything in Hoff The Record has happened to me. But heightened, everything is blown out of proportion. For instance, I don't have just one ex-wife [in the show], I have five ex-wives.
Were you tentative about playing a version of yourself?
I was a big fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway and of improvisation, and before I met [creator and co-writer] Krishnendu Majumdar, I had a show called Tales Of The Hoff, which was very similar to this. So when Krish and writing partner Richard Yee, sat opposite me at lunch and started pitching the show, it was really quite easy to go into production right away, because we were on the same page.
How about the great cast assembled to play the Hoff's oddball entourage?
The most amazing thing for me is to watch the cast, as it really is an ensemble piece. I don't really have to do anything but show up and go, 'Huh? What?' I wanted every character to have heart. There's the driver Terry, played by Asim Chaudhry, who's so naturally funny; Harriet [Ella Smith], Hoff's assistant who's never been an assistant to a celebrity before, which makes for an eye-opening experience; Fergus [Craig, who plays Hoff's manager Max] who's so off the wall. I don't get a lot of the jokes because they're a little bit indigenous to your humour and Mark [Quartley], who plays my son. He's probably the most enjoyable one because you never know whether he's German or English. He stayed in character all day long.
How did the filming go?
There is a scene in Birdman where Ed Norton and Michael Keaton spar with each other on stage about his play, trying to make it better. We did that every single day starting at 5am through to 7.30pm. We'd have workshops to figure out what we wanted to do and 99% was garbage, and then you'd get a diamond and sew them all together. I would never say it's as brilliant as Curb Your Enthusiasm because that's just comic genius, but it's pretty funny.
Is it true a second series has already been commissioned?
Yes, there's a second series and that's a testament to everyone involved. And it's only going to get better. We have so many good ideas. I want a third series and we can go all over the world. I want to take the crew to India and do Bombaywatch!
Do you have obsessive fans like the Hoff does in the series?
I have an obsessive fan who follows me all over the world, who looks like Mark [Quartley]. He follows me everywhere. Very nice and very lovely, but you've got to kind of keep an eye on him because you just don't know why he does that. I've had some very strange experiences with fans, especially at Comic-Cons. Lots of tattoos in bizarre places. Having your face on the side of a guy's ass is [a little strange].
How much of your own life has been used as inspiration?
We don't reference the personal things because they're personal, but the funny things that have happened, we do. It's unbelievable what happens to me on a daily basis. No seriously, everything from a child coming up and talking to me for three hours as Michael Knight, and the people who follow me around the supermarket. Men will say, 'I love you'. I'm left going, 'Why, thank you. Where are the avocados?'"
What's your advice for suriving in the industry?
I went to an audition when Baywatch was over, and this is a true story, John Schneider from Dukes Of Hazzard, Bruce Boxleitner from Scarecrow And Mrs King, Harry Hamlin from LA Law and Tom Selleck, we were all auditioning for the third lead in a stupid little sitcom. We all had to sign in and it was great because in our time, we were all superstars on television, all making a chunk of change and [now] all out of work! But I think that's what you've got to appreciate. I tell my kids, 'It's a tough business and you're going to get your heart broken a million times' - it's how well you deal with rejection.
What's next for you?
Right now I'm excited, because I'm at a place in my life where I'm mostly doing stuff that I want to do. I've got a movie coming out called Killing Hasselhoff, about a death pool and whoever kills the celebrity first, wins the money. And I'm excited about Hour Man Hoff, about a private eye called the Hoff who goes around the world to seduce and annihilate all the beautiful Russian spies.