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Interview: Bear Grylls of 'Man vs. Wild'

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Bear Grylls from "Man vs. Wild" on Discovery


Bear Grylls from "Man vs. Wild" on Discovery
LAist had a chance to talk to Edward Michael Grylls, more commonly known as Bear Grylls, a former British Special Forces commando is best known in the states for his "Man vs. Wild" on the Discovery Channel.Have you seen those bizarre Dos Equis commercials with the Most Interesting Man in the World? Well, Bear Grylls has been recruited by Dos Equis to be a Distinguished Instructor in the Most Interesting Academy, specializing in Surviving in the Modern World. It's a schtick to be sure, but it's such a bizarre schtick it's interesting, and the videos and material collected at "the Academy" are put together in such a clever and amusing way, they are worth a deeper look than what we saw when Grylls paraded them on Letterman a couple weeks ago.

LAist: What is your involvement in "The Most Interesting Academy"?

Bear Grylls: The idea is that the Academy will empower people by providing a series of vignettes of how to survive in the modern era. I'll show you how to escape from burning buildings, how to escape being mugged, how to cross a bridge when it's gridlocked, how to survive off of rats in the sewers, and how to run across rooftops. It's really fun, a fun campaign, and I had wanted to do a lot of the urban survival stuff for a while and this was a good excuse to do that.

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LAist: It seems that no matter where you get put on the planet, you seem to find grubs to eat. Is Dos Equis saying they are the best beer to wash down some fresh grubs?

Bear Grylls: Well there are fresh grubs all over but we shot these in London, and I did catch a rat on the rooftops of London and I showed how to catch the rat and cook it, found some mint in the bushes, so there we are on the roofs, with a fire, roasted rat with mint, and I had a nice cold Dos Equis beer to wash it down with. Survival might not always be pretty, but it doesn't always have to taste terrible.

LAist: This is similar to the themes in "Man vs. Wild", right?

Bear Grylls: Get out there and live life a bit and live it boldly. Don't be scared to take some risks and push the boundaries a bit. I have a job as head of Scouts worldwide [In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest ever Chief Scout at the age of 34] and this is a message I'm trying to get to the Scouts, it's in that same vein, live life in an interesting way and with a smile.

LAist: Can you give us a some hints of what to expect in the upcoming season of "Man vs. Wild"?

Bear Grylls: I'm about to head back to the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico and then we head to Alaska which will conclude the season. But we've already done Alabama, we've done the Arctic, we did the Will Ferrell one, and a Vietnam War one.

LAist: How do you keep it all together, after a season as varied as this one?

Bear Grylls: I do tend to crash once we finish because I like to throw 110% into it, but it is a privilege. The Vietnam experience was a highlight for me, it was a full-on jungle experience, with loads of snakes, and the heat.

LAist: As someone who travels the world to all of these locations, have you seen a lot of human impact on the environment?

Bear Grylls: No doubt, I see the front line of global warming almost every day we are on location. It makes me acutely aware we have a very beautiful but fragile world. We have a responsibility to maximize our protective efforts and to leverage the technology we have. To realize that with technology that we have today, we could put solar panels on a tiny fraction of the Sahara Desert, it would be enough to power all of Europe, and why aren't we doing that? It's a big motivating factor for me.