Famed adventurer, survivalist and TV host Bear Grylls is back for a second season of NBC’s Running Wild, taking celebrities off the red carpets into the great outdoors. We talked to Grylls about the premiere, featuring Kate Hudson; their 48-hour journey finds the daring duo in the Dolomites, one of the most treacherous mountain ranges in Italy, hiking toward the Austrian border. It airs at 10 p.m. Monday. Other guests will include Super Bowl-winning QB Drew Brees, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and The Hangover’s Ed Helms.
How do you select the location and celebrity to experience it?
We try to pick diverse wildernesses that will stretch these guys. It’s a bit like an elastic band. We kind of elongate it according to who we have. Sometimes people are going to be fitter and stronger than others. But the great thing about Running Wild is at the end of the day, it’s about getting to know these guys and empowering them with cool skills and taking them on a great boy’s or girl’s adventure along the way.
In a clip for the episode, Hudson seems fearless. Is she in real life?
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The Dolomites was super fun. And a great one for Kate. It was demanding. She wanted the full experience. She’s actually a tough girl. She’s into this sort of stuff. It was the ultimate adventure playground, really. That sort of terrain — incredibly big mountains, big cliffs, snow, avalanches, forest, rivers, the whole lot. She should be really proud of how she did.
You join Kate for some yoga. What did she teach you on this trip?
A lot. She told me not to argue with the long-haired colonel. A woman is always right. [Laughs.] No. I think she taught me: Don’t judge a book by a cover. Just because you think somebody is, you know, a movie star and a “girlie girl,” that she isn’t strong and determined. She was an inspiration, really. She went for it, and was honest and courageous. A lot of these stars live mega busy and often complicated lives and I think for them to have a bit of space and time just to express themselves is often quite a moving thing for them.
Do you have a favorite extreme location?
Viewers’ favorite environments are different from mine. They like to see when I’m really up to my neck in the bad stuff and fighting on all fronts. I’ve learned to like the ones that are gentler. The most demanding are the unseen dangers. It doesn’t matter how big or brave you are, something creeps up and bites you on the backside hard, you’re not always going to walk away from it. When you’re dealing with snakes and crocs and all sort of creepy crawlies, you’ve got to have your wits about you a little bit. So I’m always cautious in the jungle and relieved when we get out of it.
What is the best part about taking celebrities under your wing?
I think just getting to know the real people. And being reminded that whoever you are, however big and famous or whatever, everybody puts their trousers on one leg at a time. And also realizing that there’s a reason why these guys are often top of their game. They’ve excelled in their field because they have great attitudes, they’re positive, they’re determined. They know how to deal with risk and failure. It’s a great reminder to me that those qualities are what matter in the wild. You really get to know the person when it’s been raining solidly for 24 hours or you’re freezing cold and hungry and beaten up. That’s a great privilege of Running Wild for me.