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Getting in on the wildlife act

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Dominic Monaghan with snake

Hollywood actor Dominic Monaghan is famed for his roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lost. However, acting isn’t his only forte – he is also an avid nature lover and admirer of the late Aussie wildlife and TV personality Steve Irwin. Debashine Thangevelo found out how he finally bagged a show that showcases his fascination with insects and reptiles that belong to the stable of rare, feared or stupendously gigantic…

GIVEN his praiseworthy Hollywood portfolio, it is startling to hear that Dominic Monaghan has a great love for insects and those slithery creatures that fall under the reptilian umbrella.

And it is something he is immensely proud of – as viewers will learn when they see Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan on Animal Planet.

When asked to shed light on his “other interest”, he laughs, “I have a lot of interest in a lot of different things. I’m interested in Manchester United, travel, food and exploring. This includes being passionately interested in acting, but I also really like the natural world.”

That he owns a small forest in India, worked with Peta and has a personal collection that includes a leaf-mantis named Gizmo, a black widow spider called Witchitar and an albino snake who is referred to as Blink – certainly supports his comment.

The outdoor adventurer says the idea for his current show germinated after the unfortunate death of wildlife expert and TV personality Steve Irwin.

He enlightens, “When Steve Irwin died, I felt this is the time to create the nature show I talked about making.

“This is how I responded to his stance in life and his mission and, obviously, his death. I have been talking to different networks to see what they were looking for and what type of shows they wanted to do. Then I sat down with an independent producer who worked with a company in Canada. I pitched the idea of Wild Things – going through different parts of the world, have a holiday and look for animals I’m interested in seeing.

“The producer, Dave Brady, really liked the idea and we went about creating the first episode, sold it (to a network) and we started working on the rest of it.”

Expanding on the format, he adds, “There were certain things that I wanted to tell – a story about ants, the world’s largest spider or a rare insect.

“We sat around, me and my production team, worked out what stories we were going to tell. In terms of the dangers, you have to take all of that with a pinch of salt. Life is dangerous, yet we still get out of bed.”

With no training as a natural scientist, there is a fair amount of risk that Monaghan takes. However, he travels with a medic as a precautionary measure.

He offers, “I am around highly venomous animals. The other night, in the US, I went looking for the world’s most dangerous scorpion. I also find some pretty dangerous snakes. We take as many precautions as we can. I try and think about what I’m doing and the animals that I’m dealing with.

“I look at how close down the tightrope I can walk, in light of Steve’s untimely death, which was a freak accident like being struck by lightning. I try not to think about things like that too much.”

Shot in HD, the actor says, “I call it a travel/nature/adventure show. We show all those elements are not as intimidating as people think – they can be quite fun.

“I would love for people to travel more, eat more and live more adventurously. I’m hoping that, by watching this series, people will view the world differently by seeing someone who isn’t a trained professional going into this situation and having fun.”

On the acting front, the 37-year old-actor, who was more recently seen in FlashFoward, has two movies coming up.

“I have a film called Deep Burial, which is a psychological thriller. I also did a kids’ film in London called Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist. That will probably come out at Christmas.”

Looks like Monaghan has finally got the best of both worlds and he is enjoying the adrenalin rush of his wild adventures and getting in on the act in Tinseltown.

• Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan airs on Animal Planet (DStv Channel 183) on Thursdays at 10pm.

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