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Exclusive: Tiffany Shepis talks “SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE”

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Among the countless familiar faces who show up in SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE (out today on DVD, Blu-ray and digital HD from Cinedigm/The Asylum), one of the most welcome is busy fright actress Tiffany Shepis, who chatted with FANGORIA about her role in the campy nature-amok flick.

In SHARKNADO 2, Shepis plays Chrissie, who’s out on a New York Harbor cruise with the film’s heroine Ellen (Kari Wuhrer), Ellen’s daughter Mora (Courtney Baxter) and their friend Polly (Sandra “Pepa” Denton) when the Big Apple starts getting bites taken out of it by storm-borne great whites and other toothy species. The actress had first worked with SHARKNADO 2 helmer Anthony C. Ferrante when the latter was the 2nd-unit director on 2003’s SCARECROW, but it was a connection to one of the sequel’s co-stars that landed her the gig.

“I did a movie with Danielle Harris called HALLOWS’ EVE,” Shepis tells us, “and Courtney Baxter was one of the leads and she and her mom Deborah were executive producers on it. Then they brought me onto another movie that isn’t horror called CHASING YESTERDAY, and one day Deborah called me and told me that Courtney got the part in SHARKNADO 2. I was like ‘Holy shit, that’s so cool!’ and then I said, ‘I can’t believe it, I know all those guys and I can’t get on that movie.’ So when Deborah was on set, she mentioned to [producer] David Latt that she knows me, and he was like, ‘Oh my God! We should have had Tiffany in this movie.’ And she went, ‘Well, you should have her, she’s here in New York.’ He was like, ‘Seriously?’ and she said, ‘No, but she’ll be here if you want her.’ [Laughs] And that got the ball rolling.

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“When I got the call from David,” she continues, “I was with my children at a yogurt shop, and I actually got on the floor and went, ‘Yes!’ I don’t even do this [flashes “devil horns”], but I did that and was like, ‘F**k yeah!’ It’s the Super Bowl of B-movies; you can’t make a more fun, ridiculous, awesome time then a SHARKNADO film. Plus, my husband [filmmaker Sean Tretta] is a huge JAWS fan, so I’m probably the sexiest woman on the planet to him now.”

Shooting SHARKNADO 2 on location in and below Manhattan was a homecoming for Shepis, who grew up in the city—though like others who worked on the movie (see set reports here and here), it was also a chilly proposition. “It was very cold shooting in New York, but thankfully, they didn’t try to make it out like it was summer and have us all in shorts and tank tops. They were at least conscious of the fact that, ‘Maybe we should put these people in sweaters, at least.’ But getting to shoot at the Statue of Liberty was pretty amazing. I remember going there in junior high, but this time I was finally able to appreciate it. As a kid, you’re just like, ‘Oh, cool, we’re out of school!’ ”

Shepis’ extensive career in the horror trenches has schooled her in acting opposite all sorts of FX, which served her well when dealing with the CGI-fish-to-be-added-later on SHARKNADO 2. “Fortunately for me, I make a lot of indie, low-budget movies where I’m often reacting to nothing, so it was a little bit easier for me than for most of the cast, I think,” she says. “I’ve done tons of films where it’s like, ‘All right, now there’s a demon running after you,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh shit, run!’ So I’ve become fairly decent at playing that. It probably would be harder for someone of a bigger caliber who’s used to having the graphics in front of them, so they see what the monster looks like and are like, ‘OK, I actually have something to play off of.’ It was a lot of fun, and it was certainly exciting when people were yelling, ‘There’s sharks over there! And now there’s sharks over there!’ ”

Adding to the excitement, she says, was the fact that “some of my scenes were done a little bit on the fly, because we had lost a location and there was a bit of uncertainty about what to do with my character. But Anthony was pretty bad-ass, and was like, ‘All right, here’s what we’re gonna do, then we’re gonna go with this and then we’re gonna do that.’ And the whole crew stood by him and got it done, and it was like, ‘Holy shit, I can’t believe he just pulled that off!’ ”

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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