Bo Derek says she’s never been that ambitious about her acting career.
“I wish I had made other movies,” she said recently. “I turned down a lot more money than I ever made. But at the same time, would I be who I am now and happy? I have the best friends.”
Not to mention her boyfriend of 13 years: actor John Corbett.
It was 36 years ago when Derek became an overnight sensation in Blake Edwards’ hit comedy 10, playing Jenny, a beautiful young woman who becomes the obsession of a middle-aged composer (Dudley Moore).
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Women quickly copied Derek’s cornrow hairstyle, and sales of Ravel’s Bolero, which plays an important — and funny — part in the romantic comedy, went through the roof.
Derek, then married to writer-director-actor John Derek, 30 years her senior, wasn’t prepared for the sudden fame. “It was overwhelming. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have PR people.”
As Bo Derek, 58, walked out of a Studio City restaurant to have her picture taken, a waiter remarked, “She looks fabulous!”
Derek smiled when told about the waiter’s observation. “I’m always surprised people still know who I am,” she said with a smile. “It has been such a long time.”
She’s back in front of the camera playing April’s (Tara Reid) mother in the Syfy Channel’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, which premieres Wednesday. The third in the series of deliciously cheesy satirical disaster movies finds the East Coast being destroyed by those sharknado cells filled with hungry sharks.
In addition to Reid, Ian Ziering returns as the heroic Fin and David Hasselhoff is on hand as his father. Rick Fox, Mark Cuban, Penn and Teller, Frankie Muniz and Jerry Springer are among the eclectic cast members who pop up in the third installment of the media sensation.
Sharknado auteur Anthony C. Ferrante said Derek was at the top of the list to play April’s mom.
“She’s an icon,” he said, adding that his favorite Derek film is the 1995 Chris Farley-David Spade comedy Tommy Boy, in which she plays a con woman who marries Farley’s character’s father. “That was kind of the linchpin for me.”
Sharknado 3 was shot in a breathless 18 days. Ferrante said Derek “was a real trouper” while shooting on location at Universal Orlando. “In the first half of the day, we had moved her to four different locations,” he recalled.
Derek hadn’t seen the first two Sharknado films but had noticed all the Twitter traffic when they aired in 2013 and 2014.
“I remember tweeting, ‘What is a sharknado?’ It’s such a social thing watching this. I don’t think people sit there watching it alone.”
The film, she said, “is an event. It’s fun. It is not about acting. We know it’s not about us; it’s about the sharks.”
For the past 34 years, Derek has lived in Santa Barbara. She has three dogs, a very old donkey and raises Andalusian horses.
She’s also a photographer, shooting the cover and inside spread on Sharknado for TV Guide. Next month, she’s heading to Rome to appear in four episodes of an Italian TV series.
“No complaints,” she said about shooting over in Europe for a month. “The business has been good to me.”
Los Angeles Times