His agents must be dying. Dominic Monaghan has a blue-chip acting career—topped by The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the TV phenom Lost—yet he's risking it all for Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan. The new BBC America nature series (premiering Tuesday at 10/9c) finds the Brit star trekking through Asia, Africa and South America in search of creepy creatures — flesh-ripping ants, giant carnivore centipedes, waterbugs that turn their prey to liquid. And he'll merrily rappel into subterranean, snake-filled caves or swim in a croc-infested waters. Is he nuts? No, just fearless.
"Steve Irwin was a big hero of mine," Monaghan says. "I've long wanted to do the same thing he did — bring respect to animals and insects that are unfairly feared. Sure, some can kill when provoked, but they are not malicious or evil. None set out to give humans a bad day."
Nor does he worry about contamination: Monaghan's first scene in the series has him emerging from the murky Mekong River in Vietnam à la Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. And his appetite is positively Bourdain-esque. "I was brought up by bohemian parents," Monaghan says. "We traveled everywhere and ate everything. I'll consume street food anywhere — India, Borneo, Thailand. I don't attach any trepidation to it and I've never once gotten sick eating in exotic places. Yet, I can go to dinner at someone's house in Beverly Hills and end up regretting it!"
And those agents? "They're not crazy about this show, especially when they got calls from insurance companies refusing to cover me," Monaghan says. "But they understand what I'm about. As an actor I like to create myths. As an animal lover, I want to bust them."