On Disney+, starting on Dec. 8, National Geographic premieres Welcome to Earth, with host and executive producer Will Smith, who faces his fears to take some wild rides in spectacular natural settings.
The focus of the six episodes -- all available to stream at once -- is terrestrial, but the inspiration for the show's title is extraterrestrial. It comes from a famous line uttered by Smith in the science-fiction film Independence Day.
In Welcome to Earth, Smith accompanies a diverse band of scientists and adventurers to explore such wild wonders as volcanoes, deserts, oceans, animal herds, rivers and glaciers.
He's also appearing to risk his neck at every turn, counting on the experts to help him get past his fears.
Among those Smith accompanies are marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer Diva Amon, Jamaican-born polar explorer Dwayne Fields, engineer and National Geographic Explorer (and amputee) Albert Lin, National Geographic photographer Cristina Mittermeier, and blind mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer.
Take a peek:
The explorers and some producers came along to discuss the show during this past summer's installment of the biannual TV Critics Association Press Tour.
Unfortunately, Smith wasn't on hand, but he seems to have made a strong impression on everyone else.
Regarding Smith, fellow executive producer Jane Root said:
He said that there's literally nothing on Earth that has meant this much to him. He says it's beyond music, it's beyond movies, it's just that incredible spectacular thing.
I think for him that it's the other side of fear. He recognizes that fear, and he's prepared to get through that and then, just have an amazing awe.
Like with Diva in the sub, with Erik, with everybody. It was a truly incredible thing. He really, really went there.
Lin recalled a moment when he and Smith were rappelling hundreds of feet down into a Namibian cave.
There was a moment when things were getting a little bit crazy, and he could have descended too far, and things could have gone really wrong, but he composed himself and kept going.
When we got to the surface I was trying to make light of it and, you know, ask him to like start singing the “Fresh Prince” theme song and things like this, and that didn’t work out.
But when I asked him how he overcame all his fears, he recounted that he used to go to work every summer with his father, who was an electrician dealing with high-power electricity, and that his dad taught him that if he let fear take over, that it was deadly.
So it was all about keeping calm and keeping in the moment. ... That was, to me, one of those moments where he became much more than a movie star. He just became an awesome human.
You can watch all of Welcome to Earth on Disney+, starting Dec. 8.
Image: National Geographic for Disney+/Kyle Christy
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.
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