Take Hoff

The 6/15/10 issue of Soap Opera Digest featured a news story with David Hasselhoff talking about reprising Y&R’s Snapper Foster for five episodes. Here, the actor shares more.Soap Opera Digest: You have always credited the late Bill Bell, who co-created Y&R and was the head writer for many years, for giving you the big break in show business.

David Hasselhoff: Yes, I owe so much to him. They were recasting Snapper because William Gray Espy was leaving. I lived in Chicago at the time and I met Bill at his vacation home in Lake Geneva, [WI]. I already knew how big of a star [his wife] Lee Phillip Bell was because she had her own [talk] show in Chicago. So I went out to his place with my parents and it was an amazing experience. He took us out on his houseboat and he and Lee were so nice to my parents. If you’re gracious to my parents, you’ve won my heart and respect.

Digest: You started Y&R in 1975, left in 1980 but came back. What was that about?

Hasselhoff: I left to do a TV series called SEMI-TOUGH, that was only semi funny and lasted only four episodes. But Bill supported me and allowed me to go. He could’ve blocked the whole thing because I was under contract at Y&R but he said, ‘You’re destined to be a star and I’m going to let you run.’ I came back afterwards and then I actually left [in 1982] with $40,000 in my bank account. I was moving to New York because I wanted to be on Broadway.

Digest: Well, you didn’t make it to Broadway until 2000 for Jekyll & Hyde. Why did it take so long?

Hasselhoff: When I left Y&R to move to New York, that’s when Brandon Tartikoff [president of NBC] saw me on the airplane and asked me to audition for KNIGHT RIDER. After KNIGHT RIDER, there was BAYWATCH and I walked away from BAYWATCH because I wanted to do Broadway before I got too old.

Digest: How did your Y&R experience help with the rest of your career?

Hasselhoff: It set my entire mode of professionalism of never missing a day of work and knowing my lines. The work ethic at Y&R was just amazing. I still have such respect for soaps. I remember [back then] doing 20, 30 pages a day on Y&R. Then going to the KNIGHT RIDER set, it was seven pages! I thought I had died and gone to heaven! When I did Click with Adam Sandler, they did three pages a day. I hate making movies because you sit around in your trailer forever waiting for one shot. I love the fast pace on soaps.

Digest: And, as you probably know, the shooting schedule on Y&R is even faster.

Hasselhoff: Oh, yeah! I did one scene and they said, “Okay, we’re moving on.” And I was like, “No, no, no no. You’ve got to run that back because I screwed this one line and it doesn’t make any sense.” So, they ran it back and we re-did it but the pace is amazing.

Digest: What was shooting like in the old days?

Hasselhoff: Before, you’d go through blocking in a rehearsal hall, then usually go take a nap, then you’d go back for camera blocking, then you’d run through the whole show, then you’d sit around in a circle and listen to everyone’s notes, then you’d go to lunch, come back and do the show. After it was over, you’d go back and read for the next day. It was just a grueling schedule.

Digest: So for your return, everything went quicker, which means you didn’t have to be there all day, right?

Hasselhoff: Right! I was out at 2:00 almost every day and I couldn’t believe it. I had 20, 30 pages a day because they really wrote me in a lot, but it was fun!