Bear Grylls Declares Natalie Portman ‘Mighty’ for Her Impressive ‘Running Wild’ Premiere (EXCLUSIVE)

by Jon D. B.

“She’s mighty physically and mighty in spirit,” Bear Grylls praised to Outsider ahead of Running Wild‘s return to National Geographic.

Last night, Running Wild with Bear Grylls returned to National Geographic with a new tagline, The Challenge, signaling the team’s desire to up the ante for this seventh season. And up the ante they did.

Celebrity guests accompanying Bear for his latest survival excursions each attempt maneuvers and skills far more challenging than any that have come before. First up: Natalie Portman, who jumps into the slot canyons of Southern Utah with as much gusto as her Academy Award® winning roles.

“Natalie’s a great adventurer. She really is,” Bear tells me ahead of the season premiere. “Don’t be deceived because she’s petite,” he grins. “She’s mighty physically and mighty in spirit. She’s had to push through so many boundaries in her life, and she remains a non-ego lady, a true talent, and a great mum, which is no mean feat when you’ve had her sort of career.”

For Bear Grylls and Natalie Portman, Parenthood has Created Immense Spirit

In Running Wild‘s premiere, Portman dives head-first into the Escalante Desert. There, Bear taught Natalie how to filter water with the help of underwear (yes, really), how to correctly place pitons into rockface, the ins-and-outs of rope system transfers, and crucial fire starting techniques. And they did so all while descending various hundred-foot canyons:

Watch Natalie Portman on a new episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge Monday, July 25 at 9/8c on National Geographic.

National Geographic

Through it all, she never hesitates. Portman shows a true “Outsider spirit,” Bear says, one that comes across as effortless to audiences. Ask the actor, and much of this toughness comes from being a parent; something that means the world to Bear Grylls, too, as a father of three sons.

“There was definitely a great meeting of minds on this one. I think fatherhood, or parenthood, and adventure are strong connections,” Bear offers. “So I love that episode.”

Relationship building is at the core of Running Wild. After all, nothing allows you to truly get to know someone in a short amount of time like putting your life on the line together. And make no mistake, these are truly dangerous maneuvers The Challenge showcases.

‘Nothing creates a bond like being out in the wild and having your life on the line’

As Bear Grylls himself puts it, “Nothing creates a bond like being out in the wild and having your life on the line. That brings people very close. And I think Running Wild always creates amazing bonds with these guests and I never take that for granted.”

Escalante Desert Plateau – Natalie Portman (R) and Bear Grylls discuss parenthood as they review fire starting techniques in RUNNING WILD WITH BEAR GRYLLS: THE CHALLENGE. (Credit: National Geographic/Ben Simms)

“Many of the friendships last to this day,” Bear continues, Portman included. “That’s the heart of the journey, really. You’re creating strong bonds, and therefore they trust you with their story.”

Other celebrity companions this season include Florence Pugh, Ashton Kutcher, Anthony Anderson, Rob Riggle, and Simu Liu – the latter of which attempts the most dangerous survival Bear’s ever put a guest through. You won’t want to miss it.

Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge airs each Monday at 9/8c on National Geographic. All episodes will begin streaming on Disney+ this August 10.