In the new horror film Shark Night 3D, Sinqua Walls (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) plays Malik, a star college football player, and Alyssa Diaz (The Nine Lives of Chloe King) portrays Maya, his girlfriend. They are part of a group of friends who are invited to Sara’s (Sara Paxton) lake cabin, in a remote area of Louisiana.
When Malik staggers from the lake with his arm missing, it’s a race against time to take him to the nearest hospital, across the lake … which is filled with sharks.
Are you anything like Maya?
Alyssa: I’m like Maya in that I’m a feisty woman and deep. I love having fun and very loyal to loved ones. I’m not like her in that I would take on the sharks and fight them to the death! I think I would take the shark out!
Sinqua: (laughs) I think you would too! She’s a skilled and trained martial artist.
Did you both meet before you started shooting?
Alyssa: It was a fast casting process. They cast me off a tape. I’d never met Sinqua before. We got there and I heard Sinqua missed his flight, so I thought, ‘Oh great. I don’t know about this guy. He’s already messing things up.’
Sinqua: She thought I was this Hollywood cat who was gonna have a big ego which I clearly don’t have. My character Malik is the glue that brings all the friends together.
He has the encounter where he loses his arm and that becomes the driving force for what we’re gonna do to get off this island and get away without more shark attacks.
He’s also fun-loving, he’s smart and he’s on the verge of going to the NFL but he hasn’t lost track of who he is. He loves his girlfriend. He’s a genuine, truthful guy.
How did they shoot your missing arm?
Sinqua: It was a combination. David (Ellis, the movie’s director) wanted that real texture as well as CG. I got my arm fitted for a cast for the CG moments and then I’d just hold it in a green screen sleeve. A lot of it, my arm was tied behind my back in the water and I couldn’t move it the entire day. I got used to that.
What were the action sequences like to shoot?
Sinqua: It’s stuff you don’t get to do every day. We trained on underwater apparatuses. We had to learn how to make sure our swimming strokes were appropriate for the lake, get familiar with the tank, and remember the lines at the same time.
I got so caught up in the action, sometimes I would jump off the boat and then forget what I was supposed to say next.
Hand-to-hand combat with a hammerhead shark was a really amazing experience. I have logged in so many hours watching Shark Week (on TV) and envisioning the day I would fight a hammerhead that it felt like I had been preparing for that all my life.
What was the scariest thing that happened to you?
Alyssa: I saw a ‘log’ floating ten feet from our boat when I was about to get in the water. A ‘log’ with eyeballs? It was a 14 foot alligator in the water and it was hungry and pregnant according to the locals, so we got to the other end of the lake to shoot that scene.
I was freaked out and my stunt double was trying to give me tips on how to wrestle an alligator. ‘You know about the belly rub, right?’
Did the fake sharks seem real to you?
Sinqua: They move with the essence of a real shark. The first time I got into the water with this larger-than-life creature shaking and moving in my face, coming to bite me, I did feel like I was about to experience a real shark attack. It is surreal to see this thing in your face with real teeth and those cold eyes.
You get lost in the moment and see a shark coming at you and react. I did.
How were the girls around the fake sharks?
Sinqua: The girls in this cast are some renegades. They were thrown in water. They fought sharks. Sara was trapped in a cage. And they did it like they were born to it.
The guys were probably more afraid than the girls.
How did you cope with the sharks, Alyssa?
Alyssa: I’ve always been scared of sharks. They freak me out and to see them right there got me every time. The tank work was fine, but when I had to go out in the lake, I was terrified. I didn’t know what was in there. It was dark. It was muddy. The natural elements of this film were pretty challenging.
When you’re swimming helplessly in the middle of a swamp and you see a shark chasing you, it’s terrifying in the open water. You are so vulnerable. The water in the lake had no salt so you’d sink and it’s muddy and there are all kinds of creatures in there; water moccasins and alligators.
Any final thoughts on the movie?
Alyssa: This is a take on the genre you can’t beat. We have the action. We have the drama. We have the sharks. We have 3D. It’s a fun film.