Dwayne Johnson, who executive produced, and director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) insisted on aiming for an R-rating rather than the more family-friendly PG13, because they didn't want to rein in the edgy humor, strong language and nudity.
The jokes are dirtier, the white-knuckle stunts are more intense and there's more flesh on show, although - from the lingering shots of Zac Efron's toned torso to a cringeworthy scene in a mortuary - much of it is male.
The movie follows devoted, overzealous, lifeguard Mitch Buchannon - Johnson taking over from the role made famous on TV by Hasselhoff -- as he butts heads with a brash new recruit (Zac Efron) while investigating a drug smuggling ring.
Alexandra Daddario, 31, who plays rookie lifeguard Summer Quinn, remembers expecting that the shoot in Florida and Georgia would mostly involve going to "look at hot chicks and hot guys and hang out on the beach all day."
"You don't really realize that you're going to be out there from sunrise to sunset, it's going to be incredibly sunny, you're going to be squinting into the sun," she said.
"You can't eat a hamburger, you have to eat light, you have to keep your stomach sucked in the whole time," she added.
Already a global star, Priyanka Chopra makes her US debut as the villain of the piece, ruthless businesswoman Victoria Leeds - a part originally written for a man.
"I think the spirit of Baywatch is really the fact that you do something which is bigger than yourself," Priyanka, 34, told AFP.
"You're saving people's lives in an ocean which can consume you completely. And that's the spirit of camaraderie, of team work, of actually working together, which is what Victoria hates. But I think that's the spirit of Baywatch."
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