Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan follows actor/wildlife enthusiast Dominic Monaghan (Lost) on his hunt for some seriously creepy creatures — from flesh-slicing army ants and thick-tailed scorpions to the world’s largest centipede, rumored to snatch bats right out of the air. Monaghan told TV critics at the 2013 TCA Winter Press Tour that Steve Irwin really was the inspiration on getting his wildlife adventure series into production. The series premieres on BBC America Jan. 22.
“Steve Irwin is one of the major reasons why I made the show. I was in Hawaii shooting Lost and was pretty devastated by his death, and I had said for a long-time to a lot of people that I was going to make a nature show,” Monaghan shares. “And after I got over the initial shock of him dying, I just thought, if this is not a reason for me to really pick up the pieces now and make the show, I don’t know what is, because he meant a lot to me. I never got a chance to meet him or tell him that, but he meant a lot to me, and I think he was a superb human being across the board. So there are elements of the show that, in my way, is a love letter to Steve Irwin, to what he achieved as a person and to the television shows that he left behind.”
The series will have you squirming in your seat as you watch Monaghan touch, cuddle and nurture some of the scariest looking insects and reptiles known to man, all while educating you on the species’ origins and their amazingness. Here’s what Monaghan had to share about the series with us.
You are seriously badass — climbing the tree to cuddle with the reticulated python and swimming in Crocodile Lake — and that was just episode one! Seriously, how does your personal safety get factored into these adventures?
Dominic Monaghan: I am as safe as I can be. The show is about immersion, adventure and a fearless curiosity. Naturally at times I do things that are dangerous. I am as careful as I can be in those situations. I am very partial to all my limbs and organs. I don’t want to lose any. But I am also willing to take an acquired “risk” to platform the beauty AND danger of these animals, but also break some real myths about these animals. Not ONE of these animals had a constant want to hurt me. Not one animal exhibited “hate” or “malice.” And finally, I like danger. I like how I feel when things get dangerous.
Who (if anyone) is your barometer of sorts telling you what might not be a good idea?
I am the barometer for any interactions that may occur between me and an animal in the wild. I call the shots. I say how far I get to the animal and how far the crew gets. The guides and locals that we work with advise me on what they would do but ultimately it’s my decision to make. Many have science backgrounds and have spent a long period of time with certain dangerous animals. The tips they give are invaluable, but I have to decide what I will do; it is after all my body that’s the closest!!
And do you listen?
Yes. I always listen to me!!
It appears that your crew is somewhat small; how many people are with you while filming?
We film with a five-person crew. Two camera. One sound. One director. One field researcher. We outsource a medic.
You seem really at ease and confident when working with the insects and reptiles. From what you have filmed to date, what made you most nervous/scared?
Hmmm. The Neotropical rattlesnake I see in Guatemala was extremely annoyed and keen to bite. My adrenaline gets up. I sweat. I get excited. I stay in the moment. Fear is detrimental to what I’m attempting to do. I control it as much as I can. Heights scare me!
Did you or any of your crew get bitten/stung at all while filming and by what? What happened?
We were all crushed by mosquitoes daily. Sand flies. Black flies. Midges. I had a few unfortunate leeches!! Our medic got stung by a bullet ant and spent two days very miserable.
The press materials describe your father as being influential in your passion for insects and reptiles. Could you share a story about one of your childhood memories of being introduced to the world of insects? Maybe your first or fondest pet?
Both my parents have a reverence for the natural world. My parents love plants, trees and grew herbs and vegetables in their garden. Some of my fondest memories are of barbecues with my parents in their garden. Great food and great fun. Invariably it would attract wasps. My brother and I, being kids, would swat at them and run away hands flaying around. Then one day, around the age of 12, I watched my dad with a wasp. He greeted it. He asked it to leave. He guided it with his hand away from the food and drink. He was calm and collected. It changed the way I felt about stinging insects. Why behave erratically? They can sting you if you are erratic OR calm. Stay calm. Stay present. Hopefully your calmness will help, and if you get stung … hey, at least you stayed calm!!
Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan premieres on BBC America Tuesdays beginning Jan. 22 at 10pm ET.
Photo Credit: © Bugzilla Productions Inc / Brian Bowen Smith