Bear Grylls Previews Obama’s ‘Running Wild’ Appearance: ‘He Was Willing to Go for It’

Bear Grylls on Obama's 'Running Wild'
Courtesy of NBC

President Obama took a breath of fresh air, and this time it wasn’t in the White House Garden. Obama joined survival expert Bear Grylls in the Alaskan wilderness for a special edition of NBC’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” airing Thursday.

The President decided to appear on the show to raise awareness about climate change. The special edition of “Running Wild” debuts just a week after leaders from 196 countries approved the first global agreement in human history to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

But what about the people who doubt climate change? “Even if we’re wrong, it’s not going to harm the planet,” Grylls told press in a conference call this week. “It’s only going to help the planet because what do you want us to do? Just keep belching of more the bad stuff out, because eventually we’ll hurt the planet.”

The survival expert was nervous to have the President on his show even though Grylls has experience working with high-profile guests, as Michael B. Jordan, James Marsden, Kate Hudson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are some of the celebrities who appeared on the second season of his show. Seeing Obama outside the Oval Office was ultimately a rewarding experience. “Well, my overriding impression was just he’s a really humble, family-centered, lovely guy,” Grylls said. “I think there’s a connection when you’re out in the wild with someone.”

“But I think at the end of it [what] really stood out for me was the little thing we did right at the end where we prayed together and it’s funny because it’s sort of such an intimate thing to do, but we talked about faith on the journey,” Grylls said.

Grylls hoped the President would only bring five or six of his Secret Service team, but Obama came with an entourage of about 50 people. “It’s a whole team with the press corps and [there’s] even a guy who’s there to make sure if there’s any food or drink he’s drinking is approved,” Grylls said.

When Obama first announced he would appear on “Running Wild,” a document on the White House petition site called for the President to drink his own urine, but Grylls didn’t want to see that.

Despite the security, including snipers and a helicopter, Grylls noted Obama took the lead in the wilderness. “It was really driven by the fact that he was willing just to go for it and trust me doing my stuff and then I’d keep him safe and do my bit as well,” Grylls said.

While Obama doesn’t usually spend time in the wild, Grylls felt he was the one who needed to prepare for the filming, explaining Obama seemed incredibly confident. “I said to him right after we just lit the fire, I said, ‘Annoying president, you’re good at everything. You just, you know, normally people take hours doing this. You’re just naturally good at it.'”

The survival expert isn’t the only one who enjoyed filming. “It was so lovely hearing him say at the end that it’d been one of the best days of his presidency.”

The special edition of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” airs 10 p.m. ET on Thursday on NBC.