Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan follows his wild dreams in his nature TV show Wild Things

Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan follows his wild dreams in his nature TV show Wild Things

After making us laugh in the Lord of the Rings films, Dominic Monaghan brings his sense of humour and adventure to a new project. The actor tells Melanie Leung about his passion for wildlife and attitude to danger

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He's no stranger to danger. Dominic Monaghan poses with a new friend to promote the latest season of Wild Things.
He's no stranger to danger. Dominic Monaghan poses with a new friend to promote the latest season of Wild Things.
Photo: BBC Worldwide

Dominic Monaghan waves cheerfully to a group of monkeys in Thailand. "Well, it was nice to meet you. Bye!" He laughs as the biggest one prances forward, screeching at him.

Monaghan is as brave, smart and funny as his famous role of Merry in Lord of the Rings - though he's a lot taller than the one-metre hobbit.

When he's not acting, Monaghan travels the world. He picks a place that has an animal he wants to see, and goes there.

"It's a very simple way of travelling for me because it adds in a natural adventure and keeps me interested," he says.

Two months after pitching the idea to a producer, Monaghan and cameraman Frank Vilaca got on a plane for Ecuador to make the first episode of Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, a TV series documenting their adventures.

Monaghan has been a nature lover all his life. He was first fascinated by insects, and his passion grew to encompass all sorts of mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and amphibians.

His clear blue eyes can spot the most elusive wild creatures hiding among the rocks and bushes, and he is able to identify the species right away.

He's established himself as the wildlife expert of celebrities, and is frequently asked questions on social media. "If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" one fan Tweeted to him on September 3.

He replied "We didn't. If the iPad evolved from the iPhone, why are there still iPhones?"

Without any formal zoological training, Monaghan got all of his animal knowledge by reading. Animal books are scattered all over his home, and he reads as much as possible.

"When you're passionate about something, and you're really interested about it, the information just sort of sinks in more easily," he says. He feels the same about football: an avid Manchester United fan, he says it never feels like work to learn about the team.

For the second season of Wild Things, which premieres in Asia on September 17, Monaghan hunts for the weirdest and most dangerous animals in Brazil, Costa Rica and Australia, among other places. He also tries out exotic (though not always delicious) cuisine, such as insect larvae, of which he said it's "not something I would eat again - simply because I'm a fan of insects". He also drank a very surprising beverage from Ecuador, which he only found out later was made by people chewing up the ingredients and spitting them out.

Although they didn't always find the animals they were looking for, there was still plenty of excitement, like getting chased by a six-tonne elephant in Kenya. Or when he tried to pounce on a massive water monitor lizard in Thailand. As he did so, the lizard swerved its head and bit him hard on the forearm. There was blood spurting everywhere, and Monaghan had to be taken to hospital. "It's a pretty interesting pain," he says thoughtfully in the documentary. "Now I'm gonna need a new tattoo."

But isn't he afraid of all the danger? "Well, yeah, but you can get killed any minute in your life, can't you?" Monaghan states. "I mean, I'm not stupid, I wouldn't jump out of a plane without a parachute, but I just disregard the element of fear." He learned this attitude from his father, who taught him that it was better to stay calm in a dangerous situation and make the right decisions, rather than panic and probably end up doing something stupid.

Well, that approach has got him through two seasons of Wild Things, at least. He's been acting again for the past eight months, but Monaghan's itching to get back into the field. Let's hope he can survive for many more seasons.

BBC Worldwide is currently running a Wild Things competition. To win a GoPro camera, please visit the website.
This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
From hobbit to habitat

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