Ask Alexandra – August 2000
Hi, my name is Courtney, I am huge BAYWATCH fan. I watch it everyday!I would like to ask you a question, I have been told that on the showsome of the actors do not do their own stunts but I also know what awonderful athlete you are, so when are making a rescue on the show doyou do your own stunts?
Actually we all do our own stunts unless they involve high falls or fire (they wouldn’t want to lose an actor in the middle of a season!), or very fancy tricks (see below). We also did all our own swimming, and no matter how cold the water or the weather was, I never saw an actor hesitate getting in the ocean to work. Our rescues were all done on “second unit” days, not during the regular filming. Usually what would happen is that the cast and crew would go out on a boat for the day and film rescues from several shows. Luckily we didn’t worry about keeping our wardrobe straight (it was almost always the red bathing suit), but I do have one rescue in which my hair changes 3 times because we filmed the sequence over 3 different second unit days, weeks apart! It is the 2nd part of the episode on Coronado Island, San Diego: Summer sees a ghost, CJ goes to SeaWorld and falls for a marine biologist, and Mitch goes sailing with his brother and the boat sinks. I have to rescue him and my hair is half up on the rescue scarab, loose as I am swimming, and in a pony tail as I pull him to shore (or something like that). Oops!
My closest call was a simple dive off the scarab. I told the director that the camera boat was too close and that I would hit it as I dove, but he said he had been doing this shot for years. I reminded him I was 5’10” (only Hasselhoff was taller than I ). He yelled at me to “Dive!”, so I did. I hit the boat. I was not hurt but I was angry! They printed that shot (you usually only get one dive chance because then you are wet and it wont match).
One stunt of which I am proud is in the very beginning of Yasmine’s first show. For some reason (I guess for purposes of a montage), my character is out on the jet ski doing tricks (a stuntwoman was doing all these very complicated tricks in my stead). Yasmine ( “Caroline”) is taking pictures of me from the rocks. A wave comes up and knocks her in and I have to dive off the (fast) moving jet ski to rescue her. That is in closeup, so I have to do that myself. I had never driven a jet ski before that day, but our stunt coordinator, the wonderful Greg, took me out and we practiced the stunt: I had to get up on the seat and stand, while still holding the accelerator and steering, and then dive off while it was moving (fast). The bummer was that the camera got close so it looked like the jet ski was being towed, when actually I was doing all the driving also. Sigh….
I was fortunate to work with actors who were always good-natured and enthusiastic. With David Hasselhoff always leading the way in that area.
Thank you for writing!
First off, I would just like to say how much I admire you as an actress and activist! May I enquire a little about your ethnic background? I think I remember reading somewhere that your family was from England. Is that true?
Yes, my mother is British. She grew up around Liverpool and I have an aunt and uncle and several cousins around London. My mom had been a US citizen for decades now, but she has retained her english accent (which embarrassed me when I was a kid, but which I now find beautiful).
My father (Paul is my real last name) grew up in Middletown, Ohio and I have cousins there still. I think the Pauls originally came from Germany, but I cannot be sure. I am going to contact my cousin Gary Paul about that because he is the genealogist in the family!
I consider myself so lucky to be an American. This is a wonderful country. Ian and I fly the flag outside our home on holidays, and the national anthem really moves me. It disappoints me when the anthem is sung before a triathlon, that a lot of people don’t stop what they are doing, take off their caps and put their hand to their heart to sing, or have a moment of silence. I always do and I encourage all of you to also.
Thank you for your inquiry.
P.S. My genealogist cousin Gary Paul tells me the Paul family comes from Wales.
I applaud your concern about overpopulation in a world of dwindling productivity (mostly from “dumbing down”) and limited resources. But I remember you making a point of having an electric car, “no air pollution,” driving around Los Angeles. I admit that my facts are twenty years old and things *might* be different, but I recall that Los Angeles gets much of its electricity from the Four Cornersgenerating plant, the dirtiest coal plant in the United States. That would make the dirty tailpipe of an electric car right in a Navajo Indian reservation, not very neighborly. As one who appreciates clean air for my running hobby (marathons but not triathlons, I applaud your Ironman performance), I am very concerned with anybody recommending going from relatively clean gasoline cars to much dirtier electricity. There are also oodles of environmental issues having to do withbattery manufacture and disposal and less efficient distribution of energy to contend with as well.
The reason I write to you rather than some beaurocrat in D.C. is that you are a role model. I think people are more likely to listen to you, so I exhort you to find out what the energy and pollution trade-off really is. Your combination of acting and athletic successes give you a very public forum for your views. You also give physical fitness and middle-of-the-pack competition favorable representation as well.
On animal testing, by the way, I totally agree that the optimal amount is probably not zero but certainly less than that done now. Both sides have such weak arguments that my own view on the issue is usually the opposite of whichever side I last heard from!
Adam N. Rosenberg
You are absolutely right to question the true environmental effects of a battery powered car. An electric vehicle is “emission free” but that does not mean it is “pollution free”. Just the fact that it exists has caused environmental damage (the steel had to be excavated from the earth, the rubber on the tires is constantly wearing off as I drive and going into the atmosphere). And it is vital to look at how those emission free batteries are being powered when I plug it in at night (is it from a coal plant, a nuclear plant, a dam that ruined thousands of acres of pristine nature to be built?). Also, since the battery pack is large but has a life of only a few years, can it be recycled or will it be thrown into a landfill with the toxins seeping out into our groundwater?
Firstly, I buy 100% wind energy from Green Mountain Energy, so my car essentially has a clean power source (for those of you who want to look into getting greener power for your homes, call them at (800) 286-5856 or go to greenmountain.com .Commonwealth Energy is another green power company) . Nonetheless, at least a million EVs could recharge at night in California without more energy consumption, because the power plants keep running even if we are not using the energy (you get a huge discount if you only charge at night). That is why I only use my washer/dryer on “off-peak” hours – I am using energy that would otherwise go to waste (someone correct me if I am wrong here).
The nickel-metal-hydride batteries, are, in the words of Bob, my EV maintenance guy, 99% recyclable. There are a few bits of plastic that cannot be recycled and that is it. That said, I would prefer not to use batteries at all because they contain hazardous wastes. Recyclable or not, I think that is bad for the planet.
There were some studies – later discredited ( they were paid for by BP America, Exxon,Mobil R&D etc. See ” The Car That Could” by Michael Shnayerson, page 238) – that said that all that battery use negated the benefits of an EV (the extra mining needed to get the metals for the batteries, the smelting to make them into batteries, and the disposal problems). While there are definitely negative effects on the environment for building an electric car, I believe the benefits far outweigh the building and driving of a gasoline car.
An electric car is not 100% clean, and I will never pretend that it is. Heck, a car that runs on air is not 100% clean because the steel and plastic body and interior was taken from the earth and the tires are terrible to dispose of (there are about 2 billion tires in dumps around the US. See page 41 in “Stuff, the Secret Life of Everyday Things”,by Alan Durning, a hero of mine). Anyway, 95% of the energy to drive a car goes to moving the 3,200 lb. car, not its 132lb cargo! (see “Stuff” again, page 34). Also cars mean roads and highways, which are the first step to ruining nature (join the great group Alliance for a Paving Moratorium, with its newsletter “Auto-Free Times”: The phone number for Alliance for a Paving Moratorium is (707)826-7775 or email at email@example.com).
I have been told my driving an EV-1 is 95% cleaner than driving a gas car. Overall, I believe that it is vital to support greener technologies. That is why Ian is getting rid of his gas car and getting a Toyota Prius next month. Although we are not overly impressed with the hybrid cars (“hybrid” means they use gas and electric – in this case, electric when going under 18mph, and switching to the gas motor at speeds over that), they are an important step to getting Americans off their combustion engine addiction. Not only do gasoline cars cause air and noise pollution, and mining petroleum ruins the ocean and the earth, it is dangerous for America to be so dependent on a limited resource. It will cause wars.
Thank you for a wonderful question. I hope I have answered it thoroughly.