Bruening and other cast members took stunt driving lessons to be able to perform the less dangerous stunts. "I'm working with Corey Eubanks, my stunt driver, and I'm learning to do things like reverse 180s and how to slide a car toward the camera without hitting it. It's really nerve-wracking," he confides. "It's not that I'm not comfortable behind the wheel, it's that there's a group of 30 people standing there, and I have to slide the car to a certain point so I don't hit them. Corey is amazing. He can take this car and have it go around a barrel, two inches from the barrel. He's teaching me to do a lot -- not that -- but I want to be able to a lot of things that you see on the show."
Bruening does "98 percent of the fights" in the show, and is eager to do so, "as long as it's nothing that can potentially injure me." A fan of the original "Knight Rider," he re-watched it when he won the role. "It was probably one of my favorite shows," says the star, who turns 29 on the series' premiere date, September 24.
"Knight Rider" shoots on location in Los Angeles, which poses its own set of challenges. "Shutting down freeways and highways and downtown is sort of a pain," sighs Thompson, who previously produced "Las Vegas" for TV and wrote the screenplays for "The Fast and the Furious" and its sequel. "It doesn't make me a popular person."
Another challenge facing the "Knight Rider" creators is finding a way to not only please fans of the original series and attract new viewers too young to have watched it, but also to retain the interest of those who liked the two-hour TV movie -- even though some cast members have been deleted and added and plots tweaked in an effort to serve an ongoing story. "We had to expand the mythology in order to be able to pull off a series," says Thompson, who did not work on the telepic version.
While he wonders if fans will be disappointed that David Hasselhoff, who had a cameo role in the TV movie, isn't in the series, Thompson says it's not a dead issue and the original Knight Rider could return.
Thompson and his co-executive producers realize they can't please everyone, but they're going to try, putting an emphasis on lighthearted entertainment. It's a lesson learned from last season's short-lived reboot of "The Bionic Woman," which Thompson found too different in tone from the original. "It was fun wish fulfillment, and they forgot about that part. It was dark and brooding. They forgot the fun aspect. It would have been fine for a channel like Sci-fi, but for a network, you've got to broaden your horizons and your appeal." And give 'em the coolest car on TV.
For more information on Knight Rider, other really cool cars and related topics, speed through to the links below.
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- Gary Scott Thompson and Justin Bruening interviewed July 21, 2008
- Ray Claridge interviewed August 21, 2008