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The New Season: He's just a teddy 'Bear'

July 13, 2007 |  4:42 pm


Bear500 It’s a bird … It’s a plane … no, wait, it’s Bear from “Man vs. Wild!”

The young and personable Discovery Channel superhero Bear Grylls climbed down the side of the Beverly Hilton Friday afternoon and ran inside to promote the next season of his wildly popular adventure show, which the network is touting as the “biggest and scariest.”

Born Edward Grylls, but nicknamed “Teddy Bear” a minute after he was born, Grylls said “Bear” has just stuck and sounds “more macho” than Ed. The husband and father of two young sons, ages 4 and 1, instantly gave his running buddies, his camera and sound man, all the credit: “Really, they’re the heroes in all this” because they stick with him through almost every dangerous stunt he pulls in the name of survival.

Asked why he’s always smiling, even when he has to resort to eating slugs, Grylls said he developed a new life philosophy after he broke his back in a parachuting accident and healed. “There are two ways to live your life: you either live it with a big smile or you’re a miserable bastard. On the whole, I try to smile in life.”

--Maria Elena Fernandez

(Photo courtesy Discovery Channel)

Five questions for Bear Grylls, star of Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild."

How did a guy with a proper Etonian accent end up eating chunks of raw zebra?

You've got to ask yourself, what went wrong along the road? I do sometimes think -- as I'm tucking into some more goat testicles -- 'Bear, you've got to get a proper job. This is mad.'

How do you square your dangerous expeditions with your wife and two children?

It's an unresolved issue in my life. I don't have a particularly slick solution to it. It's just something we both accept and try and manage and make sure I really trust my instincts with that and keep as safe as I can. The day I give it up because of the danger, I'll get hit by a bus somewhere. She worries. That's why I don't tell her a huge amount about it.

After you recovered from a broken back and felt you had a second chance at life, why did you decide to pursue more danger?

You react to knocks in life differently. My way was, 'I have a second chance and therefore I'm charged to live boldly and follow my dreams.'

Do you believe in the so-called crisis in masculinity that might account for the popularity of your show and others about macho occupations?

I'm not a philosopher. Maybe the fact that there's a crisis in masculinity makes people look for that male identity. So much of life is often emasculating. We're not quite sure what is right. It's quite comforting sometimes to watch what we feel deep down is natural.... I'm not saying that's how to be a man. I don't feel particularly manly myself. I just do what I love and feel very grateful for that.

How do you feel about being called 'The New Steve Irwin?'

It reminds us again, just because something's on TV, doesn't mean it's safe. You need to be ultra careful and have good judgment in things. He did that sort of stuff, and I do that sort of stuff. What a nice honor.

--Lynn Smith