You might know David Hasselhoff as hairy-chested hero of two genuine institutions of American TV: Knight Rider and Baywatch. Or maybe you know as him as the grinning crooner who etched his place in history by famously performing his German Number 1 hit ‘Looking For Freedom’ at the site of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Either way – you know him. There’s household names, and then there’s the Hoff, whose celebrity status is pretty all-encompassing. It’s this fame he plays around with in new TV show Hoff The Record – a very funny meta comedy that sees him play a fictionalised version of himself, starting on Dave tonight. How did the show come about? And would he ever consider a return to music, performing at Glastonbury in the Sunday afternoon legend slot perhaps? We hassled the Hoff himself for answers.
What’s the premise of Hoff The Record?
“It’s a show about a heightened version of David Hasselhoff. Instead of having one or two ex-wives, ‘David Hasselhoff’ in the show has five. Instead of having two daughters, he has a son named Dieter who was fathered the night he sang at the Berlin Wall, who happens to turn up unexpectedly at the hotel room when ‘David Hasselhoff’ arrives in London. In the show, David Hasselhoff has a manager who’s a sleazebag who’s just selling him down the river. In Episode One, he develops a film about the life of David Hasselhoff, so David Hasselhoff auditions for a role, but he doesn’t get it.”
How do you come up with ideas for the show?
“It’s all based on stuff that’s happened to me. That core idea in episode one came from an audition I had for a TV role a few years back. Everyone I was up against had been a huge TV superstar at the same time, earning lots of money, but then we all found ourselves out of work at the same time and in this room together waiting to audition. It was me, Tom Selleck, Barry Bostwick, Harry Hamlin from LA Law, John Schneider from The Dukes Of Hazzard… and none of us got the job!” So in Hoff The Record, we take those kind of premises and tweak and twist them, and obviously relocate them to London where the show is set.”
Is there anywhere you won’t go on the show? Where do you draw the line?
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“You know, a lot of it based on improvisation. We’ll do a workshop where we come up with an idea like ‘there’s a rumour that David Hasselhoff is dead’, and we think, ‘What we can do with that idea? Where can we go with that?’ That episode ends up with me pretending to be dead, hiding in this house in Notting Hill with all the windows taped up, because being dead is good for business – all my albums and T-shirts are selling like crazy! But then the press finds out and I’m arrested and have to go to jail and do community service cleaning up the motorway.”
Was it difficult filming scenes like that? Don’t you get bothered a lot by fans on the street?
“Well, I never thought in my wildest dreams people would still be asking me about Knight Rider 30 years later, or still asking me about Baywatch. You know, I still get the question, ‘Did you shag Pamela Anderson?’. It’s surreal, but surreal in a positive way, because you can affect people on the street in a positive way just by posing for a picture with them. People always come up to me and announce where they’re from: ‘Hey, I’m from Italy!’ No matter where I go, I get a reaction. My girlfriend loves it because she finds it fucking funny!”
Why do you think your inspire such affection among members of the public?
“It’s mostly men right now. I’ll be in the friggin’ grocery store and they come up to me and tell me they love me. I’m like, ‘But where are the avocados?’ Everybody who’s seen Knight Rider wants to tell me their Knight Rider story because I was part of their childhood. And believe me, Knight Rider went everywhere. I’ve had a guy from Afghanistan tell me they used to watch Knight Rider. I was like, ‘Bombs are going off, you’re dodging bullets, and people are watching Knight Rider?’, and he was like, ‘Pretty much’. How bizarre is that!”
You’ve also enjoyed a successful second career as a singer – obviously you sang ‘Looking For Freedom’ at the Berlin Wall, and then you scored a huge UK hit a few years ago with ‘Jump In My Car’. Would you be interested in playing any of the UK festivals – maybe Glastonbury?
“I would. I’ve recently recorded a new song called ‘True Survivor’, which is kind of an ’80s throwback, and it’s been a huge hit – it’s got over 15 million views on YouTube. So I actually had a meeting with a label a few days about doing a kind of throwback ’80s album. But it’s difficult for people to pigeonhole what kind of music I do. I actually performed for 100,000 people last November in Austria and I had to come on after Iron Maiden. I figured they’d throw things at me, and actually someone did throw something at me, but I caught it, so the audience laughed, and then they didn’t leave. They all stayed, it was amazing! I get up on stage and it just works. People come to see me because I’m ‘The Hoff’, but then they realise that hey, I’m not half bad at music. Wherever I take my show, I try to make it indigenous to the place I’m performing, so if I were to do Glastonbury, I’d maybe bring some local bands on stage with me and make it special that way. But my goal is to take ‘True Survivor’ and definitely play some more concerts again.”
Hoff The Record starts tonight (June 18) at 9pm on Dave.