Bear Grylls pushes celebrity survival to the limit

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Popular survivalist Bear Grylls is back with bolder and even more exciting episodes of the hit series ‘Running Wild with Bear Grylls’, but for this season he’s kicking things up a notch by introducing ‘The Challenge’ to every show. epic. Grylls will teach celebrity guests the essential survival skills they’ll need, then they’ll have to demonstrate them in epic, high-stress challenges. M&F sat down with the man himself to talk about his love of the great outdoors and the importance of setting goals.

“I have three boys now, and I see it more and more clearly over time,” says the adventurer who took up sailing and climbing as a child. “Those early years for me, with my late father who had been a commander and was very fond of that kind of stuff, were really formative years where I just wanted to be close to him, actually. It wasn’t that I liked necessarily adventure, I just wanted to hang out with him and before you know it I was doing a ton of it. I look back and those bonds are so strong and I’m so grateful for those moments. Many of the firsts lessons have come from this sometimes do you know what things are not going to go the way you want you are going to have bad weather things happen but sometimes you have to put your head down and be stubborn and just keep going and don’t don’t complain. I have such memories of those kinds of discussions with my father.

Courtesy of Disney+

The motto of Bear Grylls: improvise, adapt and overcome

There’s no doubt that Grylls likes to test his mettle and that of those around him, but wasn’t “Running Wild” already hard enough before adding a new element of challenge?

“We’re still, as a team, as a team with National Geographic as well, we’re still ambitious to push boundaries, to keep progressing and mixing things up, and so it’s kind of run deep in our DNA,” says Grylls. “I think, generally in life, we’re all at our best when we have a goal to achieve and when we set challenging goals and stuff. We are really proud of this season. We’ve been to some tough places, I mean we don’t often do northern Canada in the dead of winter, you know? »

About these amazing places: How does Bear Grylls help plan these moving adventures?

“We tend to go [a location] and I’ll have good aerial reconnaissance from a helicopter on our route,” he says. “I will be listening to some of the local search and rescue guys who are always very alert to local conditions and dangerous animals at the time of year, so I listen to that a lot, and I listen a lot to our crew who will have been there about a week before me, creating CASEVAC (casualty evacuation) plans in case something goes wrong. And then beyond that, we kind of get in there and go. To me, it seems like a natural process , and I like having to think a lot with fame, on the pitch.

You’d think it would be difficult to recruit celebrities on such a rigorous show, or have teams of agents make harsh demands on what they’ll or won’t try. Surprisingly, it’s not always like this, says Grylls.

“I’m still amazed,” Grylls shares. “Guests are always super excited to come. Generally, the people we take on the show aren’t in it for the money or the fame. They want the experience. They tend to be at the top of their game, in their field, but they want the challenge. They want to be pushed, they want to learn some skills, they want to go somewhere really wild. But they want to do it with a team that they trust and they also trust me with their brand and their reputation, but it’s a small team of six, we keep the routes flowing. We know where we are going to start and roughly where we are going to end. I can lengthen and stretch, or shorten the rides as dictated in the field once I see what they look like. We always say come alone with no entourage and trust each other, and they do. It is a great privilege and I will never take it for granted.

Ashton Kusher talks about the challenge with Bear Grylls
Courtesy of Disney+

Another aspect of these shows that Grylls never takes for granted is the beautiful places he can visit. “I think the Costa Rican jungle is a place we’ve been to many times over the years, on various shows, it’s amazing with the volcanoes there…and the cave systems. It’s also a tough environment, there’s a lot of mangroves and I think it’s a place where I was thrilled to be able to take someone like Ashton Kutcher who’s really into that kind of stuff. He told me in advance that he was a Boy Scout growing up. He likes it and he likes challenges.

For Grylls, seeing how celebrities perform during each challenge is a gift. “There’s not a journey that goes by without the guest being pushed and challenged in so many ways,” he says. “I love seeing them grow in their confidence and skills. Simu [Liu] was great. He had just come out of his epic film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and he was fit and excited and excited for it. It was below freezing (in the Canadian Rockies) for much of the trip. In five minutes we were really cold. So stripping naked and jumping into a frozen -35 degree lake when you see the whole crew literally huddled and shaking takes a bit of heart and soul! Natalie Portman also had a pretty rough ride at times in the desert canyon with very hot conditions… but what a good spirit she has.

Challenge Bear Grylls host teaches actor Simu Liu how to survive in a snowy mountain
Courtesy of Disney+

Paddling your own canoe

Grylls’ passion for cultivating whole human beings is not limited to celebrities. He is behind the “Be Military Fit” initiative. The BMF provides pre-recruitment training for the British Army and extends to the UK National Health Service to provide them with the resources they need as well. “I think it’s also good for our mental health,” he says. “We need this community and the sunlight in our faces, and we need the weather…not just indoor light all the time.”

Grylls was honored in 2019 with an OBE (Order of the British Empire), awarded by the Queen for his services to young people, the media and charity. “I stand on the shoulders of giants on that one,” he says. “I meet so many heroes every day through Scouts and volunteers, and people who give so much time and resources for free to help young people, and I’m super proud to still be a Scout leader and part of this global family of 55 million strong men. I kind of feel like that was their reward too.

At 48, our epic adventurer still loves travel. “One of my dad’s things growing up was always ‘paddling your own canoe,’ you know? Find your own path, find what you really love and give it your all, and there is power in that.

Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge premieres Monday, July 25 at 9/8c on National Geographic with premiere guest Natalie Portman. The weekly episodes will also feature Simu Liu, Ashton Kutcher, Florence Pugh, Anthony Anderson and Rob Riggle. All episodes of the new season will air from August 10 only on Disney+.

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