Actors earn the privilege to travel the world as they play out fake adventures in some of Earth’s most stunning locations, but how well acquainted do these performers feel with their stage? In a recent release on Disney + from National Geographic, Welcome To Earth decided to do just this, putting national treasure Will Smith to the task of navigating some of the planet’s most arresting and challenging terrains.
“I’ve got a confession to make,” says Smith in the new series’ trailer. “I’ve never climbed a mountain, never swum in a lake. I was in a cave... once. I’m beginning to think that I might be missing something.”
Perhaps an interesting candidate, then, for a series setting its star to the task of scaling volcanic peaks, diving to twilight depths, and using wilderness smarts to navigate their way off an Icelandic glacier. You might wonder how even the insurance policy of National Geographic could stretch to such an endeavor, but Smith was not alone.
Guiding the self-confessed inexperienced adventurer on his travels was a score of seasoned professionals, many of whom are National Geographic Explorers. Without giving too much away, their experience and knowledge do see Smith safely to the end of the series without... you know... dying, and seemingly without getting too overwhelmed.
Then again, “I’m an actor – I pretend for a living,” Smith confessed.
We were lucky enough to sit down with two of the series’ explorers to find out more about their unique lives and experiences, and how it feels to use your career and passion to guide less adept explorers on the path.
First, we caught up with Erik Weihenmayer who in 2001 became the first blind explorer ever to climb Mount Everest. In his episode, Weihenmayer travels with Smith to the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu to experience a sound you can feel but not hear.
We also spoke with Diva Amon, marine biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer who has explored deep-sea habitats from Antarctica to the Mariana Trench. In her episode, Amon takes Smith on a ride in a submersible to see what she called “one of the most spectacular bioluminescent displays” she’d seen in her 2,000 hours under the waves.
Welcome To Earth is available to stream on Disney+.