Shark Night 3D: Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan Talk to Movie Fanatic

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Shark Night 3D promises the terror of a shark attack with the added thrills of 3D. American Idol alum Katharine McPhee leads a cast that includes Avatar’s Joel David Moore, Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan and Alyssa Diaz. Paxton and Milligan play a young couple in love, so it's only fitting that the pair visit with Movie Fanatic together to discuss all things Shark Night 3D.

Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan in Shark Night 3D

Paxton and Milligan are at the W Hotel in Westwood, California and Movie Fanatic has a front row seat to the Shark Night 3D stars in their natural best. The pair extol the virtues of the terror of sharks -- those “prehistoric killers,” as Milligan puts it -- and how their film is a folly of fear that is perfect to close out the summer movie season: Wet, whimsical and completely wild.

Movie Fanatic readers, prepare for an interview with bite. (Sorry, had to do it.)

Movie Fanatic: Do you feel like you guys could narrate a Shark Week documentary now?

Dustin Milligan: Good question. How was the educational experience, Sara? But seriously, there have been a lot of quizzes that have gone down. And she, Sara, wins them all.

Sara Paxton: I like to watch a lot of Discovery Channel [laughs].

Dustin Milligan: Wow us with that shark knowledge right now, Sara!

Sara Paxton: Well [pauses]... you know the largest shark in the world is the whale shark.

Dustin Milligan: And how long can that shark live?

Sara Paxton: I don’t know.

Dustin Milligan: Over 100 years!

Sara Paxton: [Embarrassed she didn’t know that] Is it getting warm in here?

Movie Fanatic: Now, you guys didn’t have to interact with real sharks, did you?

Dustin Milligan: There were no actual sharks on the set at any time. All of the animal lovers out there can be happy about that. The mechanical sharks, we punched them right in the face.

Movie Fanatic: Was working with an animatronic shark a challenge, or even ever scary?

Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan star in Shark Night 3D

Sara Paxton: It’s huge. It’s really fast and has real shark teeth. People actually were getting bit by the fake shark. The on-set photographer, the camera guys got hit by the fake shark because it’s completely unpredictable underwater. They have three guys remote controlling it.

Dustin Milligan: Yeah, there’s one doing the tail and the body. One does the head up and down and one guy is just all about the teeth. The great part of that is watching the guy who is controlling the teeth. He was always the most into it [laughs]. As he was moving... he was [acts out a man biting like a shark].

Sara Paxton: He got a little into it [laughs].

Dustin Milligan: Yeah, but they were terrifying despite knowing they were completely controlled electronically. I just kept thinking it was going to turn into Rise of the Machines [laughs]. Yes, these sharks would become self aware and attack me first.

Sara Paxton: [Laughs] Or me!

Dustin Milligan: Actually Sara was the closest to its mouth. 

Movie Fanatic: Are either of you two truly afraid of sharks?

Sara Paxton: I’m terrified of sharks. I mean, who wants to hug a shark? We did learn that pigs kill more people per year than sharks.

Dustin Milligan: Pigs kill more people per year than sharks? Really?

Sara Paxton: They do... look out for Pig Night 3D! I’m just putting it out there [laughs].

Dustin Milligan: It’s a universal fear of sharks. Plus, when we as actors get into an environment that we’re totally unfamiliar with, such as deep water in the ocean, that is what the film preys on. Everybody’s afraid of something bigger than them with sharper teeth that’s looking for a little bit of a snack -- even if you are in a salt water lake, like we are in Shark Night 3D. If it’s not a shark, it could be a really angry jellyfish.

Sara Paxton: Sharks are this really mysterious animal and people have this fascination with sharks because you can’t see when they attack.

Dustin Milligan: They’re a prehistoric killer. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs. That constant threat in the water is why it’s been ingrained in all of our psyche.

Movie Fanatic: Given those facts, how was the cage scene?

Sara Paxton: It was really hard because I was underwater doing the scenes about 25 minutes at a time with an air regulator. I remember a few times we were not shooting yet, and I would see Dustin’s feet dangling on the surface, knowing he was breathing real oxygen. You honestly have to become completely Zen. Because if you start panicking and your heart starts beating really fast, then you go through a lot more oxygen.

Sara Paxton in Shark Night 3D

Movie Fanatic: Did the cast have to spend more time in a water tank than you would have preferred?

Sara Paxton: It was only the first week. And actually, being in a controlled environment like a tank, it made it so much more comfortable.

Dustin Milligan: Because the lakes they ended up putting us in, you can’t see anything.

Sara Paxton: Plus there were alligators and poisonous snakes.

Dustin Milligan: The actual lakes we were in were somewhat dangerous.

Sara Paxton: Luckily we had former Navy SEALs on Waverunners keeping the wildlife away.

Dustin Milligan: We had a week with these Navy SEAL guys learning how to breathe underwater so we could function relatively smoothly when we had to get into the tank. We didn’t get any SCUBA certification.

Sara Paxton: We should have been!

Movie Fanatic: The movie looks like you guys had a summer camp type level of fun. What did you do on your downtime in Shreveport, Louisiana?

Sara Paxton: We did everything together. We went to dinner together every night. We went out and partied a few times. There was a lot of great Southern hospitality.

Dustin Milligan: The group got together and bonded pretty quickly about this fantastic, strange experience we were all sharing.

Movie Fanatic: We heard there was karaoke? Who was the best?

Dustin Milligan: Well, you have Kat McPhee. She was hands down the best singer. Obviously! She was amazing.

Movie Fanatic: Did you guys ever have a moment where you felt, “Enough with the water.”

Sara Paxton: I think when we all went blind from the chlorine. We didn’t have goggles because they would leave a mark on our faces. We were all underwater and I did not think to not open my eyeballs. We were all in the chlorine for so long, that our eyes -- at the end of the day -- went temporarily blind.

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Shark Night 3D Review

Is America ready to get back into the movie water when sharks attack in Shark Night 3D? Jaws famously established the standard for the...

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