Eli Roth is extremely passionate about sharks, and has been for a long time — to comedic effect.
“There was a phone booth that had a full ad — back when they had these things called phone booths — [with] a great white with its teeth out that said ‘Shark Week,’ and I remember ripping it out from under the plexiglass and putting it up in my apartment because I was that much of a fan,” recalls Roth.
This year, it’s all coming full circle. The actor-director-writer-producer will host Shark After Dark, Discovery Channel’s late-night talk show that recounts their Shark Week programs. “This is my way to give back to Shark Week after stealing from them all those years ago,” he jokes.
His vision for Shark After Dark, now in its third consecutive year, was for it to be both educational and fun, and the guests reflect that. Shark scientists Paul Clerkin and Craig O’Connell, for example, are scheduled to appear, as well as shark enthusiasts such as director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob) and makeup wiz Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead, Inglourious Basterds).
Roth, who is known best for horror fare such as Hostel and Cabin Fever, also spent some time underwater for his new role. He had been diving a number of times before, but he had never seen a shark up close. So, he went on a dive with his wife, Lorenza Izzo (who stars in Roth’s The Green Inferno and Knock Knock), in the Bahamas for Shark Week with the specific goal of seeing sharks. He saw them alright and he loved every moment of it, which is evident in this exclusive video:
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Roth says, adding that the dive was an incredible, eye-opening experience. “I was so excited to get in the water with them. It’s crazy, but my instinct was to reach out and pet them, which was probably not the smartest thing, but I very quickly realized that they’re just fish and they just looked at me like another thing in the ocean.”
Roth’s connections to sharks go even further than his Shark Week affiliations. He’s currently attached to direct the upcoming Warner Bros. action-thriller Meg, which sees the gigantic prehistoric shark, Megalodon, resurface and terrorize. In true Roth fashion, there will be plenty of thrills.
“Meg is a movie so we’re going to have fun, and yeah I’m directing it so of course people are going to get eaten,” Roth says, adding that he wants the film to be like Jurassic Park. “I’m the biggest spectator of all so I want to see people get chomped.”
That said, he maintains that the film will be pro-shark. He plans to bring up real-life environmental issues in the film, including the brutal and widespread slaughter of sharks for shark fin soup and other consumer goods.
Back to Shark Week… what does the Shark After Dark host recommend you prioritize as a viewer? It was hard for him to choose, but he’s a fan of Tiburones: The Sharks of Cuba, Monster Mako, and Return of the Great White Serial Killer. And as for next year, Roth says he could be back — depending on how Meg goes. “If I don’t get eaten by Megalodon, I would love to.”
Shark Week kicks off on Discovery Channel on Sunday. Click here for the full schedule.