At the peak of its popularity, Baywatch was pulling in 1.1 Billion (with a B!) viewers every week. Those kinds of numbers were certainly enough to make the stars of the show household names. And while perhaps stars like Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff have ended up being the biggest names to come out of that famous and popular show, Erika Eleniak was a huge part of the show’s beginnings, and she helped it climb the ratings in the first two seasons, from an up and coming show to a certified hit. And yet, after only two seasons, and 45 episodes, Erika decided to leave the show. And that meant she didn’t get to be a part of the behemoth that it became over the next several years. Yet, Erika doesn’t regret her choice to leave the popular lifeguarding show, and has had a full life since then. In this video, we’re taking a look at the life and career of this gorgeous and talented actress, as well as why she decided to leave Baywatch when she did. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Why Erika Eleniak Left Baywatch – She Has No Regrets
Eleniak’s Baywatch Journey
Erika was cast in a TV movie in 1989 called, “Baywatch: Panic at Malibu Pier.” The role was one that she’d come to be known for – Shauni McClain, a blond bombshell lifeguard. Eleniak noted the grueling audition process, saying at one point that she thinks she ended up auditioning for the part about six different times. She noted that they made her jump through hoops to get the role, but that the rigorous process was worth it in the end. The TV movie did well enough that NBC decided to revamp it to a series.
Because NBC was eager to get the show filmed and on TV, they didn’t have time to wait until the warmer months to film. Thus shooting for the Baywatch pilot began in a brisk January. And despite it being California, the temperatures were still incredibly cold that year. Eleniak remembers shooting being intensely difficult, mostly on account of dealing with the cold temps. They apparently had large lights set up on the beach to make it look hot and sunny, but in reality, the cast was freezing their butts off. It didn’t help that they had to be in skimpy bathing suits either. Erika recalled running along the beach on the coldest day of that year, and her lips (along with the lips of every other cast member) were completely blue colored from the cold. So much so, that they couldn’t even use the footage.
The crew would spray water onto the cast so it looked like they had worked up a sweat from running in the hot sun. And, according to Erika, they’d spray her at the most random and inopportune times. She joked that, between the freezing temps, the gusts of cold wind, and getting sprayed with water, it wasn’t anything close to the real thing. But that it was another indicator of the magic of Hollywood.
Erika’s Relationship With The Show
At first, despite the challenges of shooting Baywatch, Erika was thrilled to have been cast. This was also helped by the fact that the cast and crew quickly grew close. Perhaps it was partly because of the intense working conditions, and partly because it was a good mix of personalities. But a big part of it was the fact that one of the creators was a lifeguard in real life, and they made sure that there were always real lifeguards and paramedics on set. That immediately set the tone as being a set where people looked out for each other, and cared about making sure everyone was safe, happy, and looked after. In an interview, Erika talked about how the cast and crew ended up feeling like one big family.
She also has been asked many times over the years whether there was any bad blood or rivalries amongst the cast. After all, the set was full of gorgeous actors all competing to be the newfound star from a new show. But Erika has always denied that anything like that took place. She said that, as far as she could tell, everyone was incredibly sweet to each other, and that there was no pettiness or rivalries between any of the cast members.
As the show grew in popularity, they began to not only bring in more cast members, but also to change the tone of the show. Erika has pointed out that when it started, NBC was actually the most conservative network. Not necessarily from a political standpoint, but from the standpoint of what they would show, say, and focus on in their shows. She says that NBC would have certain things off limit as far as what they showed, and what characters said. However, this took a drastic turn once Baywatch started to become a hit. The network quickly became okay with showing more skin, having more controversial plotlines, and giving the characters more risqué dialogue. And this rubbed Erika the wrong way. She had a more conservative take on what the show should be like, in line with how the network was originally. But suddenly she was finding herself in costumes with plunging necklines and being asked to do Brazilian cuts. She said that there was a large discrepancy between what she considered sexy and what the network considered sexy. And as the show and network changed, she grew less and less comfortable being a part of the show. She felt that, after two seasons, the show was a much different one than what she had originally signed up for. Plus she was physically uncomfortable, and was constantly having to cover herself up to make up for the skimpier and skimpier suits. As a result of all this, she knew it was time for her to leave. She informed NBC that she was leaving, and that was that.
Erika Has No Regrets About Leaving
Many times, when an actor leaves a show that goes on to be a monster hit, they regret the decision. But this is actually not the case with Erika Eleniak. For starters, she felt physically uncomfortable with the skimpy bathing suits. So, as she pointed out later, she knew that she was never going to be happy on set, since she’d have to be in that costume for most of the time. She said that if you know you’re going to play a lifeguard, but you hate the bathing suit, then there will clearly be issues. However, it’s possible she could have changed her mind when it came to the costumes. She acknowledges that it wasn’t the primary reason why she decided to go. While perhaps the risqué direction that the show was going in was the initial thing that gave her pause, it was ultimately her desire to expand as an actress that made her go. She had her heart set on being a film actress, and in those days, it was much less common to switch back and forth between the two mediums. As such, she knew that if she wanted to pursue film acting, she couldn’t be tied to a TV show for years on end. Plus, after two seasons on Baywatch, she felt as if she’d had a good overall experience, and gotten what she needed out of it. She thought he character had been given some great storylines, but that she could feel the risqué nature of the show starting to affect those as well. It felt to her almost like one long music video, where the more important aspect of the show was featuring hot bodies running in slow motion to music. And that meant there was less of a focus on story, character, and the like.
So, while she has admitted that she loved the show, these elements made her want to move on. She was also interested in playing a variety of roles. And staying on one show, playing the same character every week, can be taxing on actors who want the challenge of creating new characters.
And while one might wonder if Erika felt bad about leaving the network high and dry, her exit happened to overlap with the addition of the most famous Baywatch actress of all time, Pamela Anderson. So Erika soon knew that any negatives that came about because of her sudden departure were quickly nullified by the rise of a huge star. Erika said in an interview that Pam was everything that the network wanted in a Baywatch star, and that it was immediately clear that no one did it better than Anderson. As such, she was able to leave the show without too much fuss from the network.
Perhaps One Regret
While Erika doesn’t regret her choice to leave Baywatch after a couple of seasons, it’s possible she regrets the relationship that was spawned from it. On the show, her character dated the character played by actor Billy Warlock. Fans were initially psyched to find out the two were dating in real life. All looked rosy when it came to this star-studded pairing. They even got engaged. But sadly the relationship took a nose dive before too long, and the two split. So perhaps the heartbreak of that relationship ending is something that Eleniak does regret. But perhaps not, because she went on to find love a couple more times. She married a bodybuilder named Philip Goglia, but ended up divorcing him. After that, she married a man named Roch Daigle, whom she met on the set of the movie “Snowbound.” The two are still together, and have a daughter.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Did you know that Erika Eleniak left Baywatch because it became to risqué for her? Let us know in the comments section below!