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Survivalist Les Stroud

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Also an accomplished author and musician, Les Stroud is best known for his self-produced survival series, Survivorman. The series has been nominated for six Gemini awards. Les has taught his audiences how to realistically protect themselves and survive in a dangerous situation. He has provided many with useful information in case disaster strikes.

I was recently given the opportunity to interview Mr. Stroud for Teen Ink.

Rachel- How did you first become interested in wilderness survival?

Les Stroud- I was first put on to the excitement of surviving in the bush from watching old Tarzan movies and the adventure excitement came from watching Jacques Cousteau. It wasnt until many years later when I was getting out of the music business that I noticed a small ad for a wilderness survival course and once I started with that, I never looked back.

RH- How did the idea of Survivorman come about?

LS- Way back in 1986 I was watching a pretty cheesy film about a guy who survived alone in the bush and filmed it. I had always wanted to do home DVD films about how to survive in the bush - but it was then that I realized the best way to do it would be to go out and actually survive.

That stayed as only an idea until the CBS series called Survivor came on air and I was doing radio interviews where they were asking me about the validity of the show - which of course there wasn't any in terms of survival - so I pitched my old idea to the networks and they loved it.

RH- Where has been your favorite place visit? Where have you wanted to visit, but heve never been given the opportunity to?

LS- For beauty: the high Candian Arctic and the Utah Canyonlands; for passion and adventure and a profound experience - the Amazon jungle. I would still love to spend a lot of time in Tibet and Nepal and also Siberia.

RH- Has anything ever gone dangerously wrong while filming the show?

LS- Only the time I nearly died from heat stroke in the Kalahari desert - which wasnt as sensational as when I was chased by a jaguar in the jungle but every bit as dangerous.

RH- Out of all of the many things you've had to do on the show, what has been the most difficult for you?

LS- Handling being alone for 7 days at a time.

RH- How much research goes into preparing an episode?

LS- I always spend about a week on location with a survival expert from the area to learn all I can about the possibilities.

RH- Many survival television series have not only the expert but also a camera crew; you were all alone; what challenges did that bring in and of itself?

LS- It makes my show the only 'true' or 'real' survival show. Showing survival to be about doing a bunch of stunts and then sitting and having lunch with the crew or heading off to the hotel is not survival. I wanted to show it as real as I could get it given the fact that I know I am going home in 7 days. The only way to do that is to go in alone and truly HAVE to survive so the challenge of surviving while filming was always immense. Even staying motivated can be tough when you are tired and hungry and cold and you still need to set up a camera to film getting a fire going or something.

RH- Probably one of your lesser known talents, is music; how did you first become interested in that?

LS- It has been a love of mine since I was very young. Once I heard Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (the album), I knew I wanted it to be my life - it still is to a large part.

RH- What new projects are you working on? Is there any chance of Survivorman returning to TV?

LS- First, I have a third book coming out with Harper Colllins - plus I am building a multi-media film and music tour, and yes, I am working on doing some Survivorman specials right now along with new TV series.

RH- What special message do you have for your fans?

LS- I wont stop. I'm here for the long haul and hopefully will keep affecting people's lives in a positive way through my music and film and adventures. Thanks to all of them for such incredible support and special thanks to all of those who have been paying attention and have seen the reality of the last few years and the explosion of survival TV and all that has followed since my first episode in 2001.





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