Northern Sweden, where Will Ferrell ate grilled reindeer eyeballs with adventurer Bear Grylls, seems like a long way to go to promote a movie and test-drive a television spinoff.
But that’s where the two men were for 48 hours in early April, where the subzero temperatures made laughable the idea of spring. Their trip is chronicled on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild series that debuts today at 10 p.m.
Ferrell climbs out of a helicopter by rope (“Mommy!” he shouts), is eased down a cliff supported by two sticks wedged in ice, trudges through waist-deep snow on snowshoes of twigs and spends a night with Grylls in a snow cave. Dinner, and breakfast the next morning, comes from the head of a reindeer carcass they found.
“Nine out of 10 actors would not do that,” Ferrell deadpanned.
Ferrell wasn’t familiar with Man vs. Wild, probably the looniest series in the adventurist genre, when his manager broached the idea. But the actor, who has run three marathons, warmed to the idea.
All in the name of promotion, too: the Discovery episode airs three days before Ferrell’s movie Land of the Lost hits the theatres.
The network was mulling the idea of a celebrity version of Grylls’ show, and considers the Ferrell episode a successful pilot.
For adventurous stars, it undoubtedly has greater cachet than a run on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. But does it cheapen the Man vs. Wild brand, built upon Grylls’ tips to survive forbidding environments? Ford said he didn’t think so.
Grylls stows away a Twinkie for Ferrell to get some quick energy in a pinch. Of course, the actor downs it the minute Grylls first turns his back. Despite the conditions, and stunts like trying to climb a frozen waterfall, Ferrell said he never really felt in danger. His toughest trick may have been his last: Having to use a rope ladder to climb into a helicopter.
“You had to use all your arm strength to get up,” he said. “By the time I clipped in, I totally let go and was hanging upside down and laughing at myself, wondering how this was going to look like.”