David Hasselhoff: "It’s just showbusiness. It’s dress up and pretend not a cure for cancer"
When I was 16, I had very skinny legs. I was very self-conscious. I couldn’t play basketball very well and I had a girlfriend called Sandy Burke, who was blonde and was strikingly like the girl I’m dating now.
I was doing a lot of theatre. I was doing Brutus in Julius Caesar. I was in The Fantasticks [a musical] playing Matt, the boy. I was going to school outside of Chicago, but I wasn’t a very good student because my heart and soul were in the theatre. At one point I really wanted to go on to the Royal Academy and study Shakespeare.
My 16-year-old self would have laughed his ass off at the way things have turned out. He would have walked around going “life happens when you are busy making plans”. Because that is how life is. There is sometimes a different road for you, an amazing road, and then sometimes you have to get off that road and get on another road. And that can be a very difficult thing to do – especially when it involves hurting other people or losing trust or faith in people that you’ve loved. But there are a lot of roads out there.
Sure, I would have loved to have done Shakespeare or Lawrence of Arabia or Gone with the Wind or Silence of the Lambs. But you know what – who cares? It’s all the same. It’s just showbusiness. It’s dress up and pretend. It’s not a cure for cancer.
I have a keen sense for recognising the obvious and a lot of people don’t. They just don’t see it. They don’t get it even when it’s right out there in front of you. God just says: “Here is the window, here is the door: just go through.” But we are sometimes so caught up with our own selves, our own lives, our own drama, that we don’t see it.
I was in my house one day and a girl [from a magazine] came to visit me and said: “Your album is number one in my country.” I was like: “Where is your country?” And she said: “Austria.” I said: “Where is Austria?” Well, I knew it was somewhere in Europe…
About a year or so ago I found out that my great great grandmother had come from a town called Völkersen near Bremen. They lived on a farm and the name of the house was called Hasselhoff. Hoff as in house, hassel as in hazelnuts. The man who has the farm now grows two million tons of potatoes and he has a tractor. Totally random.
My connection with the Berlin Wall was my single Looking for Freedom. I went over to Germany in the 1980s with two Knight Rider cars, just looking for work. Trying to make some money. And a record producer approached me with a song and we recorded it. It sold 17,000 copies the first day. 20,000 the next day. We sold 11 million copies and realised we’d better make an album. It was number one in Germany the summer before the wall came down. It captured what was in their hearts. Later on, when I filmed Dodgeball [with Ben Stiller] I had an interpreter from East Germany and she told me that growing up she didn’t speak English, but she knew the words to Looking for Freedom.
I don’t think the teenage David Hasselhoff would have been surprised by any of this. He was going to take over the world. I had a vision I would make it when I was seven and watched a show called Rumpelstiltskin. Nothing was going to stop me. The second show I saw was Peter Pan. I’m playing that show again in Manchester this week. I’m Hoff the Hook. I’ve got the greatest job in the world.
In 1968, the year david hasselhoff turned 16... Enoch Powell makes his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech on immigration... Manchester City win the First Division title... London Bridge is sold and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona... Dad’s Army first airs on television...
David Hasselhoff is at Leicester Square Theatre, August 17 & 18 and Courtyard Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe, August 21-27. The Hoff also stars in Piranha 3DD, which he describes as “the weirdest, wackiest, probably worst movie you’ve ever seen in your life. But you’ll love it”.