A Tangentially Sportive Chat with Survivalist, Tennis Fan and Urine Connoisseur Bear Grylls

↵ ↵You ↵know Bear Grylls from Man vs. Wild, and while promoting his work with The Most Interesting ↵Academy from Dos ↵Equis he took a few minutes to speak with TSB's Spencer Hall. ↵

↵Spencer Hall: You kind of have your own job description, right? You're Bear Grylls for a living, and that's probably the easiest way to explain what you do. ↵

↵

↵Bear Grylls: Yeah, I usually kind of shuffle awkwardly when I'm asked what I do for a living. I kind of mess around and have loads of fun and get covered in mud most of the time. Right now I'm in New York doing stuff for the Dos Equis Most Interesting Academy, basically pairing people with cool life skills about how to live an interesting life. I'm an instructor in the survival in the modern world. We filmed most of these as mini-adverts about urban survival: how to get out of burning buildings, how to survive getting mugged, and how to live off rats in the sewers and such. ↵

↵

↵SH: Ideally, if I was going to prepare a rat, what should I have on hand to have an ideal rat-eating experience? ↵

↵

↵BG: I think part of the rat scene we did is that just because it looks horrible doesn't mean it has to taste terrible. I caught this rat, found a bit of thyme amongst all these kind of weeds, and then cooked it up on the roof of the building and had a nice Dos Equis to wash it down with. The idea is that you can survive in style. ↵

↵

↵SH: I have to ask this to keep this somewhat Sporting Blog relevant: are you a sports fan? ↵

↵

↵BG: Yeah, sort of. I like tennis, but I'm hopeless on American football. ↵

↵

↵SH: That's fine, it's tennis season anyway. You're going to be following Wimbledon, correct? ↵

↵

↵BG: Yeah, between Man Vs. Wild shoots it was a complete pleasure to watch Roger Federer win his 14th Grand Slam. He's a great hero of mine. I'm going to Wimbledon this year, so it should be fun. ↵

↵

↵SH: If you had to take a tennis player into the wild, please give us a few good candidates. ↵

↵

↵BG: My wife's quite got the hots for Rafa Nadal, so maybe I should take him out and leave him there. ↵

↵

↵SH: He'd be at real risk for exposure because he never wears sleeves. ↵

↵

↵BG: He'd be showing his big guns a lot. He seems like a really cool, mellow guy. The Will Ferrell one was interesting because you got to know the real person. It's easy for people to perform on a couch on a chat show in a five minute bit, but you go and hang out in the Arctic in thirty below for however many days and you're going to get to know the real person. That's one of the reasons I really admire Will so much for doing that with me on Man Vs. Wild, and really showing what a cool, family kind of guy he really is. He was really nervous to start with, but his confidence really grew. That was a great thing to see. I think the wild often does that with people: gives them real confidence. I'd love to do that with a tennis player, though they'd probably be a bit precious and watching out for injury. ↵

↵

↵SH: At the end of that episode, two men are dangling off a ladder hanging off a helicopter. Is that really you and Ferrell? ↵

↵

↵BG: Yeah, completely. I was trying to get him up this ladder, and I knew I'd need to clip him in. He got about halfway up and there was so much downdraft he literally couldn't clip himself in, so I had to climb up and reach over and loop a carabiner in there. He then let go, and was completely upside down, and I just told the pilot "He's safe, let's just go." Will said "Man, I've lived ten lifetimes in the last couple of days," so good on him. ↵

↵

↵SH: What do you do to keep yourself in shape? ↵

↵

↵BG: I do train hard, and I do need to be fit for my job. I try and do something every day, six days a week: run, do a lot of circuits, or yoga, which I did a lot when I broke my back in a freefall accident a few years ago. I take time out wherever I am, whether I have to run up and down the stairwells at an airport or do pull-ups on a tree branch with my crew before shoots. I do a lot of that improvisation, since that's the way we used to do it in the military. ↵

↵

↵SH: How long does it take to put together a show? ↵

↵

↵BG: A lot of these shows take five or six weeks to put together a show. We put the thing together over the course of five or six days of shooting. They're full-on. We're shooting 20 hour days, covering a lot of ground, but I prefer it that way. It feels live, you're in the moment, and I prefer the all-out go-for-it-and-then-crash-at-the-end approach. It varies with the terrain, but we work non-stop on these things. ↵

↵

↵SH: I have a couple of reader questions. A good one from Samari711 submitted on Twitter: What's the most embarrassing parasite you've picked up? ↵

↵

↵BG: I've had a few that have given me really bad diarrhea, just uncontrollable where you're leaning over big cliff faces holding on with one hand and one foot and letting your trousers down and letting it go in free air. You're thinking, "Is nothing sacred any longer, do you really have to film this?" There have been a few things that have moved through me very quickly, but on the whole survival advice will save your life. It's not going to be 100%, and it won't be pretty, but drinking the fluid from elephant dung can help you, even if it does go a bit wrong sometimes. They film it and make it part of the show when it does happen. ↵

↵

↵SH: Scafidi from Twitter wants to know: Who wins in a fight, you or Survivorman's Les Stroud? ↵

↵

↵BG: I get asked this in every country. There's another guy in Britain, there's Jorge in South America, there's some Indian guy ... I just don't get involved. They're all super-tough, and I really admire Les. I'm sure he would hold his own really well. ↵

↵

↵SH: Wait, you're telling me that there's a Bollywood Bear Grylls? ↵

↵

↵BG: Well, there's always a local survival expert around, and they always pit me off against their guy. There's room for all of us out there to have fun. ↵

↵

↵SH: From reader Jai_Eugene: Can you use bellybutton lint as kindling? ↵

↵

↵BG: Yeah, you bet. It's warm, it's dry, and it takes a spark. I always take kindling where I can find it and put it in my pocket to stay warm and dry. Why not? ↵

↵

↵SH: What do you want to do that you haven't done? ↵

↵

↵BG: I'm really keen to do an urban survival one in New York. How go get out of burning buildings, etc. We're going to do that for Man Vs. Wild later this year, but we just filmed a load of these for adverts for Dos Equis for their Most Interesting Academy. We're going to do these on the show later this year. ↵

↵

↵SH: This is sounding like a live-action Zombie Survival Guide, Bear. I mean, if you're taking pitches, let me slip this one in for the show: Surviving a Zombie Attack. ↵

↵

↵BG: (laughs) Yeah, sure. Why not? ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.