Baywatch – the classic TV show about Los Angeles County lifeguards who run in slow motion and look great doing it – is finally making the jump to the big screen. And the new Baywatch cast looks ready strap on their red suits and save the day, but how do they stand up to the original Baywatch characters? To be fair, some of the new characters don’t share the same name as their predecessors, but definitely are similar in spirit. That being said: Can Dwayne Johnson really be the Grade-A American man meat that David Hasselhoff embodied for 11 seasons and two spin-offs? Will any of the Baywatch babes become a pop culture icon like Pamela Anderson? The only way to know is to compare the stars of Baywatch then vs. now.
The New Mitch: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
How do you compare Dwayne Johnson and David Hasselhoff? They each bring a different meaty charm to the character of Mitch Buchannon – the badass sex symbol who is also wise and caring. While each actor has no problem being a leader of (scantily clad wo)men, they each have a different method. The original Mitch was a calm, collected guy who followed his dream of solving crimes on the beach while dealing with a strained relationship with his father. That seems less like the deal in the 2017 update of Baywatch, and this version of Mitch has a very over the top, super positive, tough guy thing going on. As lifeguard leaders it really depends on if you prefer a former German pop star or a former professional wrestler; a true Sophie’s choice.
The New Matt: Zac Efron
In the original series, Matt Brody was a super hot dude who dated both Summer Quinn and C.J. Parker in between stints of hanging out in France. He was kind of douche. Fast forward to 2017, and Matt Brody is still a douche but he’s played by Zac Efron as a disgraced former Olympian turned lifeguard/foil to Dwayne Johnson’s Mitch. Both Matt Brody’s are hunky, but only one of them has the chameleon-like wit of Zefron.
The New C.J.: Kelly Rohrbach
Famously played Pamela Anderson, C.J. Parker was the classic blonde bombshell who was super into meditation and who dated both Matt Brody and Cody Madison (an Olympic swimmer). You may also remember that in Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding she opened a bar and grill on Oahu. The film’s version of C.J. seems to be carrying on the blonde bombshell routine, and it’s not much of a spoiler to say that 2017 C.J. is 1992 C.J.’s daughter.
The New Summer: Alexandra Daddario
On the show, Summer Quinn was an ex-high school athlete who lived in a trailer with her mom, and she had bulimia. Life was rough for this lifeguard named after a season. None of those negative character traits are dragging Summer down in the new film. This time around she’s a new recruit for the watch who may or may not live in a trailer park.
The New Stephanie: Ilfenesh Hadera
Stephanie Holden made the short haircut look cool in the ’90s. She was also smooching up on Mitch Buchannon, that is, until she left Mitch randomly because she was secretly married. If you remember, her demise came on a boat during a freak lightning storm. That’s probably not going to happen in Baywatch the movie. Ilfenesh Hadera plays Stephanie, and she’s still Mitch’s love interest, but the character has lost the short hair, but definitely not the sex appeal.
The New Garner: Yahya Adbul-Mateen II
Is it weird that one of the main characters of Baywatch is a cop who hates the water? On the show, Ellerbee was a buddy of Mitch’s who was pumped the guys and the gals of the ‘watch were there to police the beach. In the movie, Ellerbee seems like he’d rather the gang not be there, but he puts up with them because they’re the main characters and he’s not. Also he says the eff word a lot. That would’ve never flown on cable.
The New Captain Thorpe: Ron Hueble
Captain Thorpe was only around for two seasons, but this ex-lifeguard mostly hung out in his office and doled out exposition and comic relief. He’s played by Human Giant and Transparent star Rob Huebel in the film, so not much is going to change, but he will be much more smarmy.
The Mentor (AKA Ben Edwards)
The New Mentor: David Hasslehoff
While Hasslehoff’s character isn’t named Ben Edwards like the original, he essentially has the same role. Mitch’s mentor Edwards was one of the first lifeguards at the ‘watch, and was one of the longest serving guards on the beach, but he had to quit when he crushed his hip diving off a pier to save a fisherman. Ben was played by The Dirty Dozen’s Richard Jaeckel, but in the film he’s being played by The Hoff himself. Both “mentors” are ex-lifeguards, and they’re both gruff older guys, but only one of them sang on top of the Berlin Wall as it was being demolished.
The Rascally Non-Lifeguard (AKA Hobie Buchannon/Ronnie)
The New “Non-Lifeguard”: Jon Bass
The new Baywatch decided to revive some characters in spirit, but not in name. Case in point – Ronnie. It’s clear he’s a sort of recreation of Hobie Buchannon, only without the six pack. As any fan of Baywatch remembers, Hobie was Mitch’s son, and a totally goofy little kid sidekick for the first few seasons. After a while, he was able to get a romance going with Summer, and he got really into surfing. In the film his role is filled by Ronnie, played by Jon Bass, who plays a total goof of an awkward sidekick who’s able to get a romance going with C.J. He also gets really into dancing.