If only we lived in the reality where the phrase “President Trump” referred to a clever bit of stunt casting in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, instead of the actual White House occupant. Alas, we do not. But at least we have an amusing anecdote, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, that allows us to dare to dream.
The moment in history was January 2015, when the Asylum—the schlock-minded masterminds behind Syfy’s disaster-movie parody series, which is known for its ridiculous cameos—were casting Sharknado 3. The film, which also features shark-flailing scenes set at the Daytona 500 and in, uh, outer space, begins in Washington, DC, where the nation’s capitol is besieged by you-know-what kind of storm. Naturally, the movie needed a POTUS, but producers couldn’t strike a deal with their first choice, Sarah Palin. So Sharknado series star Ian Ziering suggested Donald Trump, based on his experiences working with him on reality show Celebrity Apprentice.
Trump was “thrilled” and immediately agreed, according to the Asylum’s David Latt. Conservative talking head Ann Coulter signed on as the Vice President. Movie magic seemed imminent... but then the hideously ugly specter of real-life political ambitions intervened:
“We got pretty far,” [Sharknado 3 casting director Gerald Webb says] of the Trump negotiations. “It was serious talks.” A contract was drawn up and sent to Trump attorney Michael D. Cohen — the same attorney currently under FBI investigation in connection with the Russia inquiry.
But enthusiasm turned into weeks of silence from the Trump camp. Eventually, a reason for the stalling emerged. “Donald’s thinking about making a legitimate run for the presidency, so we’ll get back to you,” Latt recalls Cohen saying. “This might not be the best time.” With the production clock ticking, Asylum pulled the trigger on a backup plan, offering the role to Mark Cuban — a modest casting coup that Syfy trumpeted with a press release.
“Then we immediately heard from Trump’s lawyer,” recalls Latt. “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!’ “ Contacted by THR, Cohen acknowledges a dinner with Ziering to discuss casting Trump but says he has no recollection of the angry correspondence.
We all know what history unleashed next; truly, the subtitle Oh Hell No! takes on a decidedly eerie cast in this context. The Sharknado series has since spawned a part four, The 4th Awakens, as well as a part five, Global Swarming—the latter of which premieres August 6 on Syfy.