The dark side of Baywatch

Life wasn’t always a beach for the cast.
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They’re images cemented in pop culture history: Pamela Anderson’s ample cleavage, ‘The Hoff’s’ chest rug, and, of course, the snug red shorts worn by a buff and bronzed David Chokachi.

Over 12 years and 11 seasons, Baywatch followed a group of impossibly gorgeous lifeguards patrolling LA’s beaches while juggling wildly entertaining personal dramas. Its combination of soap storylines and scantily clad actors saw it become one of biggest TV shows in the world, and turned its cast into bona fide global pin-ups.

David Chokachi
Wearing the infamous red swimsuits came at a cost for the show’s stars. (Credit: Getty)

“It was crazy!” David tells New Idea of his Baywatch heyday. “I remember going to the UK and seeing the fans firsthand. It was like we were The Beatles!”

David’s introduction during the show’s sixth season in 1995 catapulted him to stardom. Soon replacing David Charvet as a main cast member, his character Cody Madison went on to become the romantic interest of Pamela Anderson’s C.J. Parker.

As a newbie college graduate, the meteoric rise to fame could have easily gone to David’s head. But the actor, now 54, says he had a solid grounding to help avoid the pitfalls associated with stardom.

“I didn’t buy into that hysteria like some people did. Because I saw what happens when you buy into it and it was a trap. It’s still a trap.”

WATCH: The trailer of the 2017 Baywatch movie remake

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However, after just 88 episodes, David left the beach in 1999 to explore new projects. Marriage and fatherhood soon followed, but despite his early success and ‘household name’ status, David admits that finding work – especially in an industry that’s notorious for more downs than ups – hasn’t been easy.

“There was backlash after Baywatch when we tried to do other movies or shows afterwards,” he recalls. “They were very narrow-minded about us. I felt it was unfair then. Thankfully, the business has changed, so there’s not really judgement … Now, it’s OK that we did those shows, and it’s OK to be identified as Cody. In that sense I feel like he was a total blessing.”

David Chokachi
David has come to terms with his Baywatch past – and says the cast are still great mates.

In 2020 Baywatch: The Documentary was released to mark the phenomenon’s 30th anniversary and its creation was a happy excuse for a cast reunion.

“It was so great to re-establish our friendships again,” smiles David. “Saying that, everyone’s still in touch. Pam a little bit less and David [Hasselhoff] lives over in Europe now, so I don’t see him as much, which is a bummer.”

Baywatch cast
Original Baywatch cast (Credit: Getty)

Decades later, the appetite for Baywatch is still strong. It remains one of the most-watched television series in the world thanks to streaming. So, it’s not far stretched to imagine that a reworking of the series could be on the horizon – and David’s keen!

“It almost happened a few years back, but fell through. I want to play Hasselhoff’s role. Cody comes back and is now the captain! I think the reboot will happen, it’s just a matter of when.”

Working with Pamela again is also high on the actor’s wish list.

“We have a special relationship,” he says. “We both loved to make fun of one another – we were very self-deprecating.”

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