Rob Buchta Talks Cannibalism, the One Fear Bear Grylls has Yet to Conquer, and the New Season of ‘Running Wild’

This month marks the beginning of the cataclysmic end for six celebrities as they embark on the personal challenge of their life with host, Bear Grylls. Well, we shouldn’t sound so bleak, as Bear has yet to lose one celebrity guest on the National Geographic fan favorite, Running Wild With Bear Grylls. This season ‘The Challenge’ will be unleashed on Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Riggle, Simu Liu, Anthony Anderson, and Florence Pugh. And the territory will be within the Great Basin Desert, the Escalante Desert Plateau, the Canadian Rockies, and the jungles and rainforests of Costa Rica (not in any particular order).

We were curious about which celebrity had the greatest growing experience in the new season, as well as which challenge was the most grueling for Bear, himself. And when you want to get insider information, you’ve got to go to the man behind the plan, the showrunner of pretty much everything awesome that Bear Grylls has ever filmed, Mr. Rob Buchta.

The first time I met [Bear] he ate a whole, live scorpion in front of me.”

Urbasm: Hi Rob, thanks so much for chatting with us about the upcoming season of ‘Running Wild’. In your opinion, which celebrity had the most significant growing experience?

Rob Buchta: Ashton Kutcher really pushed himself beyond his limits physically when he had to cross a massive ravine on top of a rope using a technique called a commando crawl.

Costa Rica- Ashton Kutcher executes a commando crawl across a vast ravine
(Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Urbasm: He did look pretty high up there.

Rob Buchta: It was very impressive to watch, and I think Ashton was shocked he made it across. Stepping that far outside his comfort zone and coming out the other side seemed to really have an impact on him emotionally and perhaps even spiritually. He’s a very spiritual guy.

Urbasm: Kutcher gets our respect. And on that same note, what would you say was the biggest challenge for Bear Grylls, himself?

Rob Buchta: I would say the biggest challenge for Bear was doing an ice plunge in a mountain lake in the Canadian Rockies with Simu Liu in winter. It was -14 F outside and he had to dig through several feet of ice just to get to water. If Bear had stayed in the water any longer there was a very real chance he would get hypothermia so we had to film very quickly.

Canadian Rockies – Simu Liu (L) and Bear Grylls
(Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Urbasm: In general, what seems to be the greatest weaknesses celebrities have once you take them out of their comfort zone? 

Rob Buchta: Without question, self-doubt. In general, these celebs are very confident people with positive outlooks on themselves and life, but they’re also used to a lot of control and time to prepare for the challenges they face. They almost always underestimate themselves in the moment. Luckily Bear is a great motivational speaker.

Urbasm: Yeah, that he is. Over the 15 or so years that you’ve known Bear, have you discovered any fear that he has yet to conquer? 

Sierra Nevada Desert Gorge – Bear Grylls and Rob Riggle skydiving
(Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Rob Buchta: He hates cocktail parties! Small talk terrifies him (laughs).

Urbasm: (Laughs) Okay, well when it comes to survival food, we would personally draw the line with cannibalism and some other entrees we’ve witnessed Bear eat. Is there a line in existence that even Bear would hesitate to cross?

Rob Buchta: That is a great question and short of cannibalism, I honestly don’t know. The first time I met him he ate a whole, live scorpion in front of me and I was shocked. I don’t know how he does it.

Sierra Nevadas – Bear Grylls and Anthony Anderson set out to spearfish
(Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Urbasm: Living or dead, can you name one person you would most like to see embark on an adventure with Bear? 

Rob Buchta: Bear LOVES the original ‘Point Break’ with Keanu Reeves and often quotes the movie so much in episodes it’s a struggle to edit around it in post.

Urbasm: (laughs)

Rob Buchta: I think Bear and Keanu would have a blast!

Urbasm: Oh yeah, we’d love to see Keanu in an upcoming season. Make it happen!

But hey, we’ve got Natalie Portman to look forward to, along with a lot of other celebrities flying precariously in mid-air. The new season starts July 25th at 9/8c on National Geographic, and then all episodes will stream on August 10th exclusively on Disney+.

Escalante Desert Plateau – Bear Grylls and Natalie Portman traverse a slot canyon and do a system exchange
(Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Thank you Rob for giving us some insider info on this upcoming season, as well as solidifying our respect for the man we know as Bear.

(Top Photo Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created, a site for every guy.

About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created, a site for every guy.