(Courtesy of National Geographic)
California School of the Arts

Q&A with Bear Grylls from National Geographic’s ‘Running Wild’

National Geographic’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” returns for a fifth season. Famed adventurer and survivalist Bear Grylls takes six celebrities to the wildest, most remote, and beautiful locations in the United States. With stars such as Brie Larson, Cara Delevigne, Channing Tatum, Joel McHale, Dave Bautista and Armie Hamme, the adventure-man leads them down the right path full of survival and facing your fears.

Panama – (L to R) Brie Larson and Bear Grylls on the shore of a remote Pearl Island in Panama for National Geographic’s RUNNING WILD WITH BEAR GRYLLS. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

What was one of the most challenging parts of filming this show?

It’s always scary to tackle new things and especially in a wild environment where things are as super unpredictable. I’m probably just as nervous beforehand as the celebrities, but the key is to be willing to face your fears head on and to keep moving forward. It seems that I’m daring and wild, but in fact, I’m quite cautious and very aware of the risks for both my guests and me. I think the hardest part for the guest is probably just committing to it all 100% from the get-go and having to trust me from the very beginning. Trust takes time in the wild, but on these journeys these stars have to take that initial leap of faith whilst we have only just met. That always adds an element of added adrenaline and excitement for sure for both of us.

What sets this show apart from other nature shows?

I’d say it’s unique in terms of taking these super well-known individuals so far outside of their normal life, far beyond their comfort zone in order to experience something beautiful and empowering that they normally wouldn’t. People love watching their idols tackle the wilderness, face some tough moments and to see how they change and grow in confidence along the way. It’s always inspiring.

How do you make sure that these journeys with each celebrity are unique and rooted in adventure? 

There are no specific skills test, but we do ask about their abilities, what they’ve done and what they’d always dreamt of doing. When we’re in the wild, it’s always in such a dynamic situation that you have to be on your game, and obviously as a crew we can only anticipate so much out there. Our team usually scouts a location ahead of time, and we map out a journey with the goal of having an adventure that is based on what will provide each guest with a truly unforgettable and empowering experience. That’s it. Let the wild reveal and then empower.

Norway – (L to R) Bear Grylls and Channing Tatum build a fire next to a lake for National Geographic’s RUNNING WILD WITH BEAR GRYLLS. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

What do you hope people take away from the show?

There’s so much breathtaking beauty and massive scale and wonder throughout the planet. “Running Wild” gives these stars a chance to explore some of these great wildernesses with me. The wild never judges us, and I hope that guests get a real sense of friendship on these journeys. I also hope the show serves to show how affected by climate change the world is and how fragile it is, but also how there are so many simple things we can do to become better stewards of this one home we have.

What was the process in creating the show and what did you take away from it?

“Running Wild” came about because we started to get approached by stars wanting a bespoke adventure into the wild. That became such a fun dynamic where these stars got to experience so much of what the wild can offer whilst also showing a powerful insight into their lives and how they got to where they are today. That’s the show.

What is your advice for high schoolers to challenge our abilities and make new discoveries?

To be bold and embrace failure; don’t be afraid to take the untrodden paths and ultimately to understand the power of never giving up when it comes to following their dreams. NGU. Three words with huge power.

The series premiered its fifth season on its new home network, National Geographic, on Nov. 5.