Best-known for his roles in “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch,” David Hasselfhoff is an 80s pop icon. Although his past vices have recently received more attention than his talents, the man often referred to as “The Hoff” appeared happy and healthy when OK! Caught up with him during a barbecue at the Polaroid Beach House in Malibu on a Saturday afternoon. We learned that he decided to go back on TV as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” after persuasion by Simon Cowell, that being a hairdresser is not among his talents, after going through a divorce and getting full-custody of his three teenage daughters he’s adapting to being a single dad, he’s finally fulfilling his dream of doing Broadway, and that he loves OK! and thinks “OK! is terrific’…
You’re a host on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ If you were to get on stage with your talent, what would it be?
Well, I’m going to be singing in the finale, I’m going to sing ‘This is the Moment’ from Jekyl and Hyde which is one of the most amazing songs. It’s (breaks out into song, ‘This is the moment, this is the day, when you send all of your doubts and demons on their way.’) It’s basically about, this is your time, this is your one moment in life. It’s actually the song on the Olympics so I’ll be singing that. My initial talent that I wanted to do, and I’ve been following my dreams, it’s taken me 40 years, but is Broadway. I just did ‘Chicago’ at the West End and I just gone doing ‘The Producers’ in Vegas and that was a lot of fun. Last year I sang ‘Jump in My Car’ and when they asked me to sing this year I said I didn’t want to do something that was just fun and campy, I wanted to do something that was serious so I chose “This is the Moment’ to sing on the finale.
Do you like being a judge on TV?
You know, I don’t like being a judge because I hate saying no. I hate breaking people’s hearts, it’s very difficult. Even when I was doing Baywatch, even when I knew that people weren’t going to get the role I’d let them read again, because I wanted them to go away knowing they gave it their best shot. I’d tell them, ‘Do it again, but do this…’ knowing full well they weren’t going to get the part but would at least give them the chance because it’s devastating to go in having your hope so high, and then…But, the thing about this business, the most important and real part about this business is it’s really about how you deal with rejection because you’re going to get rejected 99.9 percent of the time and sometimes it just comes down to luck.
I saw Angie Harmon on an airplane and I put her into Baywatch Nights. When she walked by me I said ‘There goes Ryan.’ She was the girl that I had in my head and bam, then her career took off. I think it would have taken off anyway because I think people like her are just so talented. But, it’s difficult being a judge because you just don’t want to say no. But, on the other side, it’s wonderful because you can make someone’s dreams come true.
I hate it when sometimes my fellow judges seem to be on some other planet, or plan and put some people through that really shouldn’t have been put through. I try to keep a little bit of integrity for the show. I never wanted to be a judge but Simon Cowell said, “Hey, I want people to get to know you as a person.’ He said, ‘They know you from TV and Baywatch, Knight Rider, as The Hoff, this is your chance to be yourself.’ So I said well I’m going to be myself. I’m going to wear boots and do whatever I want to do. When they tell me to sit up I say ‘No, Simon said I could sit back.’
How would you describe your real self?
I’m just outgoing. I love people. I think I’m very lucky, I think I’m very blessed and I have a positive attitude and I think you create your own environment and you are what you think. Sometimes when I take life too seriously the people that I’ve helped out turn right back around and help me. I think the biggest word in my life is respect and if I have my own self self-respect, then people will respect me and if I have my children’s self-respect and my own self-respect, I know I’m ok. Sometimes when I lose that, and I say no, that’s not cool, I’m able to look at that, turn my life around and realize I’m taking life too seriously. Life is really short. I’m happy to be me. I love being a celebrity. Even with all of the crappy paparrazi on the beach that I don’t like, when I walk down the street in New York and people yell out, ‘Hey Knight Rider, we still love you, that was a moment in your life, we’ve all been there,’ it’s wonderful.
Is it hard being a single dad?
Totally! It’s hard because the girls are 14, 15 and 17, so their hormones. But you know what I know? I know now not to overreact because I know probably in 15 minutes they’re going to come over and hug me, so I don’t overreact anymore. I kind of overreact with my little daughter. Like today, we were in the ocean and she’s saying, ‘Dad, I want to take off my life preserver.’ And I’m life, ‘These jet skies turn over, we’re in the ocean, you can’t!’ So she tells me ‘Dad, stop yelling at me,’ and I tell her, ‘No, I’m the lifeguard, you’re the kid and we’re in a bad situation here and by the way, the paparazzi is shooting us, so smile.’
Do you think you’re going to be the overprotective dad when they’re dating?
You know, I don’t want anyone hurting my daughter’s feelings and when the boyfriend does that, I let them know, and I let my daughters know. I tell them, I will trust them, just don’t lie to me. If you tell me the truth and discuss where we’re going, where you think you want to go and what you want to do, that’s fine, but if you lie to me, then we have a problem, and that’s lack of respect. I say, ‘I won’t lie to you. You tell me when I mess up so when you mess up you’re going to hear it from me.’ That’s the best thing you can do. The best thing you can do with anyone is be honest with them. Even on “America’s Got Talent,’ be honest and then tell them to come back, to use the anger and use it, show us what you can do.