Activision Struggles to Get David Hasselhoff to Talk About Call of Duty

By Julian Benson on at

Yesterday, as part of a preview event for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, a gaggle of journalists were invited to a Q&A event with an Infinity Ward developer and a few of the actors set to star in the game. Oddly, for a Q&A event, questions weren't from the audience but from an Activision staff member. As such, all the questions were carefully worded to drop in the key features of the upcoming game and not step on anyone's toes. Normally an event like this would be a write-off, but Activision didn't count on David Hasselhoff's ego.

Bundled with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a the latest zombie mode: Zombies in Spaceland. Set in an '80s theme park, you slaughter the undead while listening to a Spaceland DJ narrate your actions: that DJ is played by David Hasselhoff, star of Knight Rider and Baywatch, toast of Germany.

When it came to answering the Activision PR's questions, keeping Hasselhoff on-brand proved to be impossible. The guy adores talking about himself - even if he never had time to talk to KITT. He accidentally dissed Call of Duty in a comparison to Baywatch, claimed he could be president of Germany, talked about defying apartheid by visiting Soweto during his 'Elvis period' (yes really), and generally gassed on at length about how stunning David Hasselhoff is.

Below is the edited transcript of Hasselhoff's interview.

David Hasselhoff: I thought [the role] was a commercial. It came from my commercial agent so I came in and said 'This is pretty cool, man. Number one game in America for seven years. I'm excited about this.' I saw a lot of the last commercials and I said 'Will I have any lines?' and he said 'Er, yeah. You have a lot of lines' and I said 'That's great. What are they? Like 'Watch Call of Duty!' and 'Play Call of Duty!' and they said 'No, you're actually in it' and I said 'I'm in the game?' and they said 'Yes, in fact, we want you to put this motion detector on and we want to do a schematic blueprint of your body and they want to put you in the' – I call it the cone of death – 'where they have like 300 and something cameras and it takes photographs of every facial movement you have' and I went 'Wow'.

I learned that there is a relationship that people have for the game and they're cool people. There's a human side of it. You see the show... you see Call of Duty, it's quite real. The one that I'm doing that's quite funny because it's zombies. I actually got a chance to play the game and I realised the zombie game was for me because they moved quite slowly and all walk in the same direction so I'm able to shoot them but they don't die that's what’s so weird: they keep coming back, kind of like bad agents.

Activision rep: What was it about Call of Duty and Zombies in Spaceland that made the Hoff want to get involved?

They allowed me to use my own personality. I really, honest to God, thought it was a commercial and I think it's important to stay current with the kids.

I did a thing called Spongebob, or, in Spanish Bob Esponja. Some Spanish people came up to me in the hotel yesterday – "You're Bob Esponja!". Bob Esponja was [all thanks to] my daughter. I said 'You know anything about a sponge on Nickelodeon?' and she goes 'Oh my God, dad, you have to do that.' My kids now are watching Knight Rider, my kids now are watching reruns of Baywatch and now the Baywatch movie is coming out but Spongebob kept me current with the kids.

I did another movie called Hop. I left America's Got Talent and they came back and said 'Would you like to play Hoff Knows Talent' and I said 'Well, that keeps the brand alive.' And I said 'Sure, why not?' I have little kids come up to me and say 'I don't like you, I love you', which is my lead line. I do a lot of cameos, they use me a lot in the promos but not in the movies. I think my next film is going to be called Cameos.

Activision rep: What was it like having your face scanned?

Hasselfhoff: The first time I did it was on Spongebob... or, actually, it was for Click. We never used it in the movie. Then I did Spongebob. That was me in a room moving around and that took some time. [Call of Duty] was quite quick. It's amazing how far technology has come. When I saw the characterisation of me, I liked it, because it made me look younger and I look really good. It was like the old days. It was a lot of fun.

The motion detector was great because you put the that on and it captures your emotion and it allows me to put my own personality in the game. So, I say, 'If you look in the right places you might find the wrong answers, if you look in the wrong places you might find the right answers. Good luck!'. They allowed me to put in crazy and fun emotions that... you know.

I got to work with my evil nemesis, who happened to be my roommate in college, Pee Wee Herman. So you've got Pee Wee Herman and the Hoff. I hadn't seen [Pee Wee Herman actor] Paul Reubens in a long time. I don't think we have any scenes totally together, but we'll be talking about each other. We met at the studio and did some photos and behind the scenes. It was great to see how our careers are still active. I think one of the reasons, even though Pee Wee Herman is an adult comedy, [is that] it still appeals to the kids. Knight Rider is supposedly is an adult [drama]. Knight Rider worked with the kids because it was about heroes, it's about action. It's the same thing that Call of Duty is: 'One man can make a difference', 'You can make a difference in someone's life', 'You can make a difference in your own life.' Baywatch was the same way, something the entire family can watch. Even though it wasn't curing cancer, we were saving lives, not taking lives. That's important to me. It's important to have that family entertainment. There's so much reality on television right now that's sometimes a bit disheartening. Although, televisions making a huge comeback with some fantastic productions, like The Americans or Fargo. My God. So much better than the film stuff.

Activision rep: Zombies in Spaceland is set in the '80s, a period you look back on fondly, the Baywatch and Knight Rider and things. Given your history in those iconic shows, did it make it more appealing for you to be in zombies.

Hasselhoff: Well, to be honest, I can't remember the '80s – Which means we were really having a good time: because if you're really having a good time you can't remember what happened the night before. No, I remember a lot of it. I wrote a couple of books, one called, I think the first one over here was Making Waves and then in LA we released it as Don't Hassle the Hoff.

It was just an exciting time, everything was new to us. Good stuff, bad stuff, everything was new. It was like when Michael Jackson came out with 'Beat it'. All these amazing artists were appearing at the same time. We all would end up getting together for an AIDs concert, or something like that. We ended up moving into each other's worlds. It turns out Michael Jackson, on one of his albums was sitting on a Knight Rider car. I got invited to Neverland and took my kids.

Mainly, in the '80s, everything was fun. It was more of a carefree attitude. We were all creating... Knight Rider was killed by the press, so was Baywatch. They said it was a talking car and a stud and the car was star of the show. I went 'Well, who cares, we're a hit.' I never did a scene with KITT– William Daniels. I met him at the Christmas party. He said 'Hello, I play KITT.' I said 'Oh, I play Michael.' 'It looks like we have a hit.' We drank a glass of champagne together. We never did a scene together ever. In the whole show, not one time.

Call of Duty was that kind of freedom. It gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. The fact that it was so cool. I'm doing a tour, I'm doing another panto – I keep saying I won't do another panto but I'm back in Cardiff, where my fiance is from, so half the audience will be her family. But, for me it's a resurgence of my career right now. I say 'I'm in Baywatch the movie' and they go 'Great.' I'm in another picture coming out. But, if I mention I'm in Call of Duty, people go 'Yeah, let's talk about that' and I go 'Wow.' The same thing with Paul [Reubens], Paul was saying he got the same reaction. It seems to be the right thing at the right time. Working with the Call of Duty and the Activision staff has been a real class environment, really a different ball game.

[At this point, we were invited to ask questions. But before anyone can speak...]

'What's your favourite colour?'. That usually happens at Comic-Con, they get no questions and then at the end 'How do you grow chest hair?'. The first question I got at Oxford, I spoke at Oxford and Cambridge, I thought 'My God, I finally made it. I'm speaking at Oxford'. First question 'Is KITT gay?', I say 'No. Are you?' and then he couldn't answer that. The last question was 'Why do you look so good?' I said 'Because of women like you.' and she said 'Oh.' I got around the clock bizarre questions.

Journalist: Will we see you in more games?

I hope so. In Spongebob I played David Hasselhoff, that's what's so cool about it, it was like a real live-action in a cartoon and they put the whole thing together. I was holding my hands and there was nothing there. I'd love to do more games. I kind of do whatever comes along. Throw a bunch of balls up in the air and see what happens.

My next thing, believe it or not, tomorrow I leave for Singapore doing the It's The Ship cruise, which is a party cruise and I'm DJ Hoff and Captain Hoff. I get to drive the boat – that's going to be a fun thing – and put together a DJ set. There's a lot of DJs over there that they've hired, like 45 of them. It's a party cruise, so I'll try that.

I've just finished an AT&T commercial. It's a huge thing. I'm working on a new series. I went to the El Rey Channel and met Robert Rodriguez. We're having fun just doing whatever comes along. A lot of digital commercials. I love stuff with humour. A lot of it's Hoff-driven, which is amazing because I didn't invent the word 'Hoff'. It was invented by secretaries in Australia 14 years ago. I came up with 'Don't hassle the Hoff', or Johnny Vaughn did or Ice T did. Whoever takes the credit, I don't care. I'd love to do more games. It's a great way of keeping yourself young.

Journalist: I'm from Germany and, obviously you know everyone in Germany loves the Hoff [...] would you like to be the German president?

I'd probably win. It's bizarre. I don't want to be president Hoff. Right now, I'd rather run for president of the United States. I've no idea what's going on in our country. I don't know if anyone does. Even now, eight or nine days from the election.

The best thing about being in Germany is the fans are amazing. [...] It's been an amazing ride over there. Especially with the Berlin Wall: being asked by National Geographic to do a special – it's really a cool special, if you ever get a chance and you like National Geographic, you'll love this – it really tells the story of the Berlin Wall and tells what everyone went through. I was honoured because I could go into East Germany before the wall came down. That was what I call my Elvis period, I could go wherever I wanted. I went down to Soweto and they said 'We're going to put you on the blacklist because you're stirring apartheid.' So I said 'Put me at the top because I'm going in to see the people' and I did and it was awesome.