Tia Carrere made audiences across the country feel not worthy when she first strutted in front of cameras as Mike Myer’s love interest Cassandra in the 1992 comedy “Wayne’s World” — and she has continued to make hearts flutter ever since.
The 52-year-old Hawaiian actress and singer, who also appeared in 1993’s “Wayne’s World 2,” has stayed busy over the years pursuing her love of entertainment. She says she’s having the most fun yet, currently appearing on Netflix”s “AJ and the Queen” as the notably named Lady Danger.
Fox News: Looking back, how did you get the role of Cassandra?
Tia Carrere: I went in [to audition] three, four times and read like everybody else. It was great because the final time I went in, [director] Penelope Spheeris and Mike Myers were there. I was sitting in the waiting area and Mike came up to me.
He said, “You’re my choice and I really want you to get this. Just keep doing what you’re doing!” That just made me feel so confident. So I really went in there and gave it my all. I wasn’t so nervous anymore because I did feel like someone was on my side, and it just so happened to be the lead guy. So that was really a nice thing he did for me.
Fox News: You were supposed to be in “Baywatch.” What happened?
Carrere: They wanted me as a love interest for David Hasselhoff. She was a marine biologist. They were toying with the idea of this character. I went in for the audition and the producers really liked me. Then they wanted me to do a swimming test. And this is all happening at the same time as the “Wayne’s World” casting.
And when I read the script for “Wayne’s World,” I knew this part was for me. But you certainly don’t want to lose both deals. Fortunately, “Wayne’s World” came through and made it clear that I was cast. So it didn’t work out for “Baywatch.” And it looked out great in the end. It certainly worked out for Pamela Anderson. I chose differently and I’m still happy with the way things turned out.
Fox News: Was there anything about Mike Myers that surprised you?
Carrere: I just remember him being very shy and quiet. You think he’s this big wacky guy, but he’s actually very reserved. I think what brings that out of him is his talent for comedy, which is adorable.
Fox News: How many guys have come up to you over the years and say, “We’re not worthy?”
Carrere: Oh gosh *laughs* It’s funny and really cute. I remember I went to a Latin club to see some live music and these three, four college kids just dropped to their knees and went, “I’m not worthy!” It’s always funny. I still look like me, so I guess that’s a good sign.
Fox News: What happened to the red dress?
Carrere: I still have all my wardrobe from “Wayne’s World” in my closet. They gave it to me. I should probably donate the red dress to a museum *laughs*.
Fox News: Do you have plans to release any new music?
Carrere: It’s been on my to-do list for a while now. … I think I need to just do it.
Fox News: What’s the story behind the tango scene in “True Lies”?
Carrere: It was just great! Arnold Schwarzenegger and I took dance lessons and studied the routine for a few months. Then we went to Newport, Rhode Island to shoot the scene. We shot it and it turned out fantastic. There were sweeping legs, twists and turns.
But then [director] James Cameron said, “Wait a minute, we can’t show this because [my character] stood out so much. She wouldn’t be able to hide from the bad guys. They would immediately see Arnold on the center of the dance floor. So we had to do the scene much tighter and more compact. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have made sense for the story.
Fox News: What surprised you the most about Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Carrere: What amazed me was that Arnold and James Cameron were both on set for 18 hours a day. They were hardly in their trailers at all. They were constantly working. These two guys really set the standard of work ethic for everyone else. There was no slacking around. They brought it. I was really inspired by that.
Fox News: How was it working with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes?
Carrere: First of all, Sean Connery is that legendary star in that whenever he walks into a room, everyone stops in their tracks and goes silent. … And whenever he would say something funny, everyone laughed and then carried on. But it was just something to see. On set, he would be singing these Scottish folk songs and I would go, “What is that song? I’ve never heard it in my life!” I haven’t heard those songs before or since.
Fox News: How did you feel about being a sex symbol?
Carrere: When I was first starting, I was just thankful. Being an attractive, young female certainly afforded you some luxuries. People will see you, they are drawn to you. But then as time goes on, as you transition from your 20s to 30s and then 40s and 50s, there are treacherous waters that you need to navigate. If you only value yourself for your physical beauty and youth, you’re going to be lost.
Because as time marches on, you can never be the girl that you were now that you’re a woman years later. You have to create a life and you have to find joy and fulfillment outside of that identity. That’s why you do see these plastic surgery victims — they’re eternally chasing 28. You have to leave that. You have to mature and grow and find fulfillment elsewhere.
Fox News: How does it feel to be acting at this point in your life?
Carrere: I feel like it’s a chance to be Tina 2.0. People have this notion of what I was before, 25-26 years ago with “Wayne’s World” and “True Lies.” The pretty young girl. And now, I’m a strong, powerful woman who holds no punches. And it’s really fun that there are more women in television and Hollywood, and there are more roles written for women of a certain age, for strong women.
There weren’t sexy, powerful businesswoman roles or love interests over the age of 50. So it’s a whole new game now. And there’s no plan B. This is it. It’s the only job I’ve ever had. … I just want to entertain. So there is no plan B or going back.
Fox News: What was it about the role of Lady Danger in Netflix’s “AJ and the Queen,” aside from the character’s name alone, that made you go, “I have to do this?”
Carrere: It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time on a project. There are amazing people involved, like Michael Patrick King from “Sex and the City” and RuPaul. The writing was just fantastic a joy to work on.
When I get scripts, I’ll often hop on the phone and read it to my sister. I’ll ask my family how it sounds. I just remember her going “Oh, my gosh, that sounds the most like you out of anything you’ve done!” I don’t know what it is, but when you see it, it’ll make sense *laughs*. It will become apparent, but it sounds like me. She’s kind of a ballsy broad.
Fox News: What was it like working with Michael Patrick King and RuPaul?
Carrere: I’ve never met either of them before, so at first it was a little bit daunting. I am a fan of their work and I’ve heard such great things about them. The more that you’re in love with a project, the harder it is to approach it. But it was great that when I came to work, they were so kind and welcoming. It took the scary part off of it.
Fox News: In your opinion, what do you think is missing from today’s shows?
Carrere: Well, I think with all the different places you can stream and find your entertainment, there is a lot of creativity and a lot of stories that weren’t told before. Of course, I’d love to see more Asian people, more Pacific Islanders who are not just background for other people’s stories. I’d love to see them more front and center. I guess it’s going to take people like me, Jason Momoa or The Rock to push those forward. It’s just so important for us to be represented. That’s next. … I just hope to see more.
Fox News: So what is life like for you today?
Carrere: I would say calm, thoughtful. Everything just hit me so fast and furious. I was just holding on to dear life. Recording a record at Warner Brothers, learning Cantonese, playing the bass — that all happened at once. And “Wayne’s World” was shot in 33 days. But now, I feel like I can take a step back and go, “What’s the next move? Where do I go from here?” Because I do put myself in a position where I can pause and really consider what the next step is. It’s a luxury that I can afford now, that I didn’t have before.