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The Hoff on being Justin Bieber’s buddy, reviving Knight Rider and getting killed on film

What did you think when you read a film script with the title Killing Hasselhoff?

I thought the title was hysterical. They were going to change the title at one point. I said, ‘I’m out of it. If you don’t put my name on it, there’s no way I can go out and promote it.’ It’s a funny title. It just turns people’s heads. You think: ‘What the heck is this?’ The response I’m getting is great.

How do you feel about the end result?

I’m happy with it. I’d say we hit about 78 per cent of what I’d hoped for. It could’ve been 100 per cent. I think the audience will respond to it. It’s just one of those movies where you can have a pint, sit back and enjoy it. Ken [Jeong, who stars] does a great job and we have a great cast. And Justin Bieber, a friend of mine, is in the end of the movie. So we’ve got a bunch of stupid, little fun cameos.

Friend to The Hoff: Justin Bieber

How did you become friends with Bieber?

I went to the MTV Europe Music Awards and I met him. He said, ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ Whatever everybody reads about him… I’ve read the same crap about myself and I said, ‘Just don’t read it, throw it away. And remain true to yourself.’ Let the kid grow up. We all make mistakes. I don’t even know what’s true or not. All I know is he and his manager have been incredible to me.

Are you amazed people are still talking about Knight Rider and Baywatch?

We’re in talks right now about maybe bringing Knight Rider back. I’m totally amazed every day, to the point where sometimes I can’t go out. It’s just nuts. It’s nuts even going to the market in Calabasas or Lake Sherwood [near Los Angeles], where the superstars live. I go to the gate and they want my autograph. They call me the true survivor.

How did all this playing yourself start? You’ve done it a few times now…

I just answered the phone. That’s it! The reason I’m still around is that a lot of actors don’t pick up the telephone. I’m a producer and I’m a businessman first. And then I say, ‘Well, who do I market?’ Well, I market myself. Why not? Have some fun! I just answer the phone.

How come you’re so popular in Germany and Austria?

It’s the same everywhere. The only difference in Germany and Austria is that I have a hit single there and they know all my music. I play my music in your country and guys [only] flip out and take off their shirts when they hear the Baywatch song. It’s become a college ritual. I will do a club in Belfast called Queen’s and then I will go to some place where I was doing panto and I would appear at the local disco and start singing and people go nuts. But in Germany I have five or six gold and platinum records. I’ve got on my wall about 39 of them from all over the world.

‘Favourite guy’: Sammy Davis Jr

Who were your musical heroes?

Sammy Davis Jr was my favourite guy in the world. I saw him and Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli many times. I was also into The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Elton John, who I met, and Paul McCartney, who I also met. They all seemed to know who I am because of Knight Rider and Baywatch. Paul McCartney said Linda wanted to be on Baywatch. I couldn’t believe I was having that conversation. We ended up becoming good friends and I saw him two or three times, and I was on stage with him at the Coachella festival [in California] when he sang Hey Jude to a hundred thousand people. I don’t care what anybody’s perception is, I was standing next to Paul McCartney and he had deep respect for me. It was an amazing moment.

You’re 65. How do you stay in shape?

I just go to the gym every second or third day. Every other day. If you get to be my age, it’s sometimes best to wait two days and that’s hard for me. I don’t like to do that. It’s also a lot easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape. Subtle maintenance is not hard but getting there is really hard. So if you’re going to do it, just know the first six weeks is going to be tough. After that it’s pretty damn easy.

You’re engaged to Hayley Roberts. How did you get together with a girl from Wales who worked in Debenhams?

I saw the most beautiful girl across the room and that’s the truth! I saw this girl in a hotel and I said, ‘There she is. That’s the girl I’ve been thinking about.’ It took me a long time to get her but I got her.

Killing Hasselhoff is available on digital, Blu-ray and DVD now