Being able to perform your own stunts is often held as a positive résumé booster in Hollywood. In Baywatch, the most physically demanding stunt asked of the actors is of course the swimming. Having the series set on the beaches of California, one would think it was common sense that you needed to at least be able to keep yourself afloat during filming.
But not all actors were entirely honest about their swimming abilities during casting. Alexandra Paul, who starred as Baywatch lieutenant Stephanie Holden, spoke about a rescue scene with a guest star that became more real than the actors would've liked.
“We were shooting a Baywatch episode in Hawaii. In the storyline, my character Stephanie swims out and rescues a drowning man. Turns out this actor did not swim very well in real life, and we were out there a long time getting shots. He got tired of treading water and panicked," said Alexandra Paul on helping an actor get out of the water.
By the time the actor began to struggle to get his head above water, the film crew boat had already left him and Paul to swim back to shore. Thankfully, Paul was one of the few actors on the series with real lifeguard training and experience.
"I was a junior lifeguard so I really did know how to get him in. The actor swore I saved his life. I certainly saved his reputation, as I never breathed a word to anyone that he had gotten into trouble out there.”
This problem would occur every so often on the series due to people's misconception that scenes in the water were performed by stunt doubles prior to being cast. However, due to the limited budget available for productions, every actor needed to be able to keep themselves afloat in the water.
“Everyone assumed Baywatch had stunt people do the rescues, so actors thought it was OK to lie in the audition and say they could swim. 99% of the time, however, we actors did the rescues ourselves.”
Thankfully the main cast had the lifeguard training to make sure no one was ever harmed on the set. After enough mishaps where a real rescue was needed, the showrunners began to emphasize during casting calls that having strong swimming skills was one of the biggest requirements to be on the show.
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