Going wild over nasty critters

Host Dominic Monaghan encounters bigger and wilder animals in his show Wild Things

Dominic Monaghan will be back acting in a new TV drama, 100 Code, in which he plays an American detective trying to solve a string of murders in Sweden.
Dominic Monaghan will be back acting in a new TV drama, 100 Code, in which he plays an American detective trying to solve a string of murders in Sweden. PHOTO: CREAM PRODUCTIONS

If you are scratching your head wondering what English actor Dominic Monaghan (say mona- han) is doing hosting a wildlife reality show, you are not alone.

The 37-year-old star of hit TV series Lost (2004-2010) and the Lord Of The Rings movies (2001-2003) says very frankly that producers were completely puzzled as to why he would be pitching an idea to film and host his own nature show.

The show has Monaghan, who is also the executive producer, travelling the world to encounter some of the world's most feared animals.

He says: "It was really challenging to say to people that I want to do a nature show because all they can think about is how I played a drug addict (in Lost) and a Hobbit (in Lord Of The Rings). They were like, 'Where did the nature thing come from?'

"So they didn't quite understand that leap. But the people around my life know it's not a huge leap, they know that nature is something I'm passionate about. We ended up finding a great production company who took a chance on me, but it was definitely challenging selling the idea at first."

Wild Things, whose second season premieres on BBC Knowledge (StarHub TV Channel 407) on Sept 11, is produced by Canadian company Cream Productions. In the show, the actor gets up close and personal with creepy creatures such as the black hairy thick tail scorpion in Namibia and the giant spitting cobra in Kenya - dangerous situations that regular folk would never dream of putting themselves in.

He says excitedly: "I've been inspired all my life by Sir David Attenborough. But I certainly didn't want to do a show that's been done before. David Attenborough is the best natural historian in the world but he stands away at a distance and talks about the nature in a very learned way.

"My show is all about getting your hands dirty and getting in there, and getting as close as you can."

Season Two, he adds, promises to be bigger and badder. "The adventures and interactions with the animals ramp up in intensity. The pace is faster and the animals are bigger, wilder and closer than ever before. And blood. There will be blood."

Indeed, a certain animal encounter in the new season was so bad that he had to get 40 stitches in his arm.

To avoid spoilers, he does not reveal the identity of his attacker, but adds: "I got opened up quite a few times this year and I had to go to the hospital. But you know, I'm not afraid of pain.

"I won't really let things stop me just because people think it's scary. Pain is where we grow from and learn life lessons from," he adds, sounding philosophical.

Still, that does not mean he will be foolhardy either.

"If someone told me to jump onto a lion or a crocodile, I probably wouldn't do it. Until now, what I've had to do on the show has been doable and relatively easy - it's part of the element of the show for me to be around animals that people are scared of, but so far, I haven't had to do anything that's too crazy."

The show, which debuted in January last year, has ramped up positive reviews, with many outlets praising Monaghan as the perfect host for such a show. It was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "Travel shows have been done and done again, and it's hard to find one that breaks new ground. The most important element is usually not the scenery but the host, and BBC America found a great one in the British actor Dominic Monaghan".

Entertainment Weekly gushed: "His boyish enthusiasm around poisonous critters is infectious".

As much fun as he is having with Wild Things, he has certainly not put acting behind him.

He is working on TV drama 100 Code, a highly anticipated show created by screenwriter Robert Moresco (Crash, 2004), where he plays an American detective who is trying to solve a string of strange murders in Sweden. He will co-star with Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) fame.

Monaghan, who is single, admits that it was not easy slipping into the role.

"I found it quite challenging because the character I play is quite dark - he's this semi-suicidal police officer. But it was important for me to act again as it's been over a year since I've acted. I'm going to see how 100 Code does, but of course, I'd love to do more of Wild Things as well," he says.

"I always like doing things that push me to a different place and, so far, I think I've certainly pushed myself to do what I want to do, to make varied choices both in front and behind the camera."


Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan Season 2 premieres on BBC Knowledge (StarHub TV Channel 407) on Sept 11 at 9.55pm.

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