You’ve seen him on Mythbusters, you’ve seen him on The Great Escapists! Now hear him here on Spoiler Country, it’s Tory Belleci!
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Tory Belleci – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello. Let’s just, let’s pull our country today on the show. We had the fantastic Tori how’s it going, sir? Good. How are you close? That was close.
Tory Belleci: very close bleachy but
Jeff: I got the first name. Right. And that’s, that’s the important,
Tory Belleci: I didn’t talk to him one time where the presenter was like, okay, we’re going to call you out. I just want to make sure I get your last name. Right? How do you say it? And I was like, yeah. Bill H G LHE like Belagio blades.
Yeah. Cool. Okay. All right. So runs out I’m backstage and it’s like, okay. So our next guest is Tony Blake.
Jeff: first name, right? That must have been me in another life, honestly. I have a set of questions. A note I always had next to me before I do my interviews. And I did put your [00:01:00] name, your last name in there, phonetically. So I wouldn’t make any mistakes. Definitely make the mistake.
All right. So, so as I was doing some research on you, I read that in your younger years, though, the young Tori. You accidentally set fire to your house by making a homemade flame thrower. And later you got into trouble with the law for making a pipe bomb, and both of these things were taught to you by your father.
So is this true and was your father more proud of you for creating these two things on your own or upset that you kind of just this kind of trouble?
Tory Belleci: Those both stories are very true. Yeah. My father was like a crazy Firebug. He was worse than me growing up. And and so he would teach me how to make these like devices or whatever, you know, just, we would take legal fireworks and make a million, but then he kind of was [00:02:00] like, you know, that was fun.
And now we’ll move on. But I. Took to it and got so curious that I started making my own explosives, you know, and he found out and I think it was, it wasn’t until years later when I was doing MythBusters and I was on a show and they were interviewing me about. You know, my childhood and I told them about me making a homemade flavor or it almost catching my house on fire.
They never knew they didn’t find out until that interview. And what had happened is I had hooked up this device and filled it with gasoline and I was like shooting it in the backyard. And I turned in, it went up the side of that house and the whole side of the house caught on fire. And so I ran out, got a hose.
Sprayed it down, but the whole, so I put the fire out, but the whole side of the wall was black with sewage from the, from the fire. And I was freaking out cause my parents were at work and they were going to be home soon. [00:03:00] Luckily we had just had the house painted, so I ran out. The garage, grab a paint and a roller or the bird marks on the, on the wall.
And they never knew whatever, 10 years, 20 years, 15 years later, when when they found out it’s crazy, they were not happy.
Jeff: I wanted a message. So. What did your father do that? He knew this. I mean, is he on an FBI watch list or something, or does he have like a job connected?
Tory Belleci: No, he probably is. Now we both probably are.
No, he was just, you know, he was just a curious kid and, you know, a Firebug and so, you know, whenever it was. 4th of July, we make our own firework displays and you know, he, he would get into it like us, but I just went to the next level and craziness. And so. You know, at the time he wasn’t super proud of me, but [00:04:00] he’s very
I would hope so. It was all worth it, all the, all the almost burning your house down, but now you’re a superstar. It’s totally worth it.
Tory Belleci: And then the pipe bomb. Incident I was working. So at the time the see I was, I was in high school, so I was legal. I was like 18 or 19. So I was you know, Not a kid anymore, let’s say, and it was 4th of July and we would take fireworks, you know, illegal fireworks, take them apart and then sh stuff it into pipes, pipe bombs.
And no, it was a felony. I looked at the time. I was just like a kid making really awesome, but it turns out pipe bombs are felony. And so. We lit, we were setting them off in our backyard, which stupid. And I lived in kind of a small neighborhood, but our neighbor just had [00:05:00] enough. And so he called the cops, but he came out, came next door and he was like, the cops are coming.
He gave us some warning. I know he called the cops, but he was like, Oh, I was listening to the police. Scatter cops are on their way. And I’m like, okay. So me and my buddies, we. Left the house. My parents were out of town, so that’s why we were doing all these things. Right. They were camping. And so we were just getting into trouble.
So we left the house, went and hit out you know, at the mall. And then, you know, a few hours went by and we’re like, all right, let’s, you know, let’s go back and we go back to the house. And as I’m driving up the street, I, I looked at my buddy. I’m like, Hmm. What if there was like cops in front of the house, like, wouldn’t that be like, that’d be crazy, right?
That’s not going to happen. And we turned the corner and sure enough, there’s two cop cars in my driveway of my house and they’re going to the yard going through the backyard. And so we just like drove by and kept going. And I was like, Oh my gosh, like,
[00:06:00] crap. And so I like just didn’t go home that night. I like hung out at a friend’s until super late and then drove back, parked my car a couple blocks away and like jumped through backyards to get to my house. And then the next day my parents were coming back from their trip. And and I just told him, I was like, I’m like, I’m a fugitive.
We let it let off a pipe on. The cops were here, but they didn’t catch me. And I just completely confessed and like, yeah, the neighbors told us and I was like, okay. But we all thought it was going to be like, haha, don’t do that again. Slap on the wrist. This chief of police came to the house and came in and he brought all these pieces of metal.
It was shrapnel from the from pipe. And they had gone over it to neighbors, yards, neighbors. Yeah. And that’s when I was like, like, Oh my gosh, like I could have hurt somebody. I could have killed myself. [00:07:00] And he said, look, I talked to your neighbors. I went to your high school, talk to the teachers. They told me that you want to do special effects.
That’s good. You’re not, you don’t sound like you’re not a bad kid, but this is not how Hollywood makes. Pyro, like they don’t use pipe bombs. And he said, if I ever hear a single noise from this neighborhood again, I’m coming up to arrest you. That’s it. He’s like, you’re lucky you’re dealing with me. If you would have, if you, if a rookie had got you.
Like you would have been arrested. You’d be in jail right now for, for this felony. And that’s when I was like, huh, I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was a felony. And then, so now he lets me go. Now years later, I go into special effects and I do pyro and I’m working on MythBusters and I’m blowing stuff up.
And I remember coming home for the holidays and I ran into the chief of police and he was like, I watch you all the time. I’m so proud of you look at you now you’re blowing stuff up for a living. [00:08:00] And I was like, you know what, thank you. Because if you had arrested me, you know, if you, if you hadn’t done some research and found out what kind of a person I was, my life would have been ruined.
Right. I would have had that I would have been arrested. So. So it was just a it’s funny, but now every time I see him, he’s like, I can’t believe you get paid to blow stuff
Jeff: up. I mean, just think about what would have happened if this was going forward, like 15 years. You know, and pipe bombs and they exploded nowadays, you would have been definitely expelled juvenile detention.
It would have been,
Tory Belleci: I mean, seriously, the way with all, you know, the trouble that’s, you know, I guess it was after Columbine, like every, you know, all this stuff at the time, I was just like a curious kid. Getting into trouble, but now they’d be like, Oh, he’s a terrorist. Throw him in jail. Like he’s going to kill you.
Jeff: Yep. Zero tolerance. You’re done. You’re that prison cell [00:09:00] just locks down. You’re out, it’s over. But it’s amazing. Like when people talk about like the people who have impacted our lives and the little things that, you know, when you hit that road, it could have gone either way. And that chief, luckily. Did the right thing that it could easily have gone in opposite direction.
It does going to open up the idea of what people can do for others.
Tory Belleci: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I look back and it’s like, my life would have been completely different cause I hadn’t even gone away to school yet. Like I was just graduating from high school. So, you know, that would have been the end of my career as a, you know, as a citizen.
Cause it’s like, Oh, you got a felony on your record.
Jeff: Yeah. So, and so after you, you luckily avoided the law, you ended up attending San Francisco state university’s films film school. Yes. So what was your area of focus within the film school?
Tory Belleci: Well, [00:10:00] to be honest, I couldn’t get into UCLA and USC was too expensive.
So, but then I did some research and at San Francisco state had a really great film program. And so I got in to state and I. Emphasize in filmmaking and then writing and directing. And, but what’s crazy is all the stuff, as far as technology goes, the writing storytelling, directing, acting, all that stuff is still kind of it’s universal.
Like people, th the training, the learning is hasn’t really changed much, but the technology that I learned on is now completely obsolete. Oh, wow. Okay. You know, w I mean, we are shooting film and, you know, there are still filmmakers and directors who still use film, but I mean, like, it’s it all, like the editing is all digital sound recording and editing is [00:11:00] digital.
Even, you know, the film is transferred to digital and it’s edited, and then they cut the final print. W where, you know, I was shooting film cutting on you know, a flatbed. Editor. We were doing full mag. I mean, it’s all filmmaking from like, you know, it’s, it’s so prehistoric now you’re nobody, nobody makes movies like that anymore.
So you know, but the principles of filmmaking are there and they, you know, they, that, that remains the same, but the technology it’s just the advancements after I graduated, it was just like, Digital, you know, just exploded.
Jeff: And, and, but when I watch what you’ve done on things like MythBusters and the greatest games, everything else, there’s so much science involved, so much mathematics involved.
And that was that covered in it at San Francisco state university. Where did you learn all of that, all that wealth of knowledge that you have in
Tory Belleci: that area? [00:12:00] Science, I mean, you know, I’ve, I’ve always been a curious kid and but when going. You know, going to film school. I know, I figured, okay. I’m going to get into the film industry, which I did.
And it was, it was like I used math. And, you know, in some, some kind of NG, you know, engineering, but I mean, this is all stuff that it was just to, to build something. It was like, okay, what are the measurements? Okay. How much, how much, you know, plaster do we need? And I’ll check the volume you know, what are the dimensions of the box?
You know, it’s like those kinds of simple things where. I didn’t really think I would need to know a lot of the science and math that I learned in high school and college. But then when I got onto MythBusters, it was like, Oh wow. Like I really need to a refresher course. Like I know I need to bone up on all the stuff that I learned because now I’m applying it in a way that I never thought I would be applying in the, you know, an entertainment industry.
Jeff: So from my day job, [00:13:00] I’m a high school teacher. I teach English at a therapeutic school. I’m not the math, thank God I can’t do math. But you know, how many times kids like in math, you know, in algebra elementary functions, all that stuff. They’re like, when am I ever going to use this? Were you one of those kids?
And obviously now you’re using a lot of that stuff. I mean, it all come around, you know, from your high school year being like. You know, I never would need to use algebra two, blah, blah, blah. Now of course you are a hundred
Tory Belleci: percent. I mean, most of the science in math, I was like, I probably won’t use it.
Like, you know, I’ll need basics, but what I’m going to be doing is more creative. It’ll be in the arts. You know, it’s not going to be focused on math and science. And then lo and behold, you know, I’m working on a science show on discovery channel and it’s like, ah, I can’t like, I can’t even remember some of the stuff I learned.
So yeah, it was a, it was a daunting, there was times where it was daunting, but the great thing [00:14:00] about the show was we always had really awesome producers that. Would get us up to speed. And it was like, okay, here’s the material that you need to understand. You’re going to be explaining this on camera.
So just read over it, understand how it works. So that way you could explain it in your own words. So that was, that
Jeff: was always, yeah. Oh, that’s very cool. So the producers actually knew, knew their stuff as well. It sounds like. Yeah. Yeah.
Tory Belleci: We have really good researchers for sure.
Jeff: When, when you first, Oh, well we’ll get into a little more MythBusters soon, but when you.
We’re doing work for industrial light and magic and MythBusters. How much of it was learning on the job and how much was it when you were even applying for the job that it was? Yes. Yes. I can do that. And then, Oh my God. In your head, how do I figure out how to do this?
Tory Belleci: Yeah. Within the D the term fake it till you make it.
Yeah. That, that was a hundred percent. I mean, I could build and I can make stuff. But when I applied for ILM and they were, they were ramping up for [00:15:00] the movie that they were working on. They were getting really busy. It was a Starship troopers. And so they, and I had just finished working on sphere.
Do you remember sphere? The Michael Crighton movie? With Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone. And yeah, I love the books too. Daniel Jack. So, so that was like the first big movie that I worked on. I was prop and model maker for that. And because of that movie, I got into the union in industrial light magic had a union shop.
So you couldn’t just go and work there. You had to be in the union before you could get a job there. So luckily. I got into the union. And then when I went over to apply at ILM you know, you walk in and it’s like, this is the Mecca. Like, this is where star Wars was made. This is, these are legends that are, I’m working side by side with like, I can’t do this.
And so, so [00:16:00] it was a very Terrifying yet exciting time in my life because it was like I made it this, like my dream job was to be a model maker. And because of the first star Wars I ever saw as a kid, that’s what gave me that drive. And now here I am. Applying for this job and now I get it. And then I’m like, crapping my pants.
And I’m like, Oh, like, this is what I’ve always wanted. Now I have it. Now I have to do it. And I don’t know if I can, I’m terrified. And I remember there was moments where they would come over and they would give you like the, you know, two dimensional drawings that, you know, the, the conceptual art. And they were like, okay, make this into three dimensions.
You’ll make this a model. And so I would start making the model, but then I would go high. I would leave my desk and I would go hide somewhere in the shop and work on it until I got it to a place where I felt like it looked good. And then I’d go back to my desk. Supervisor would go, Oh [00:17:00] yeah, that looks good.
Jeff: That is awesome. And you also got to work on the first two star Wars, star Wars, prequel films. I mean, at the time that was like the special effect, you know, thing to do. I mean, you went to everyone and I was a two star Wars nerd at the time. I mean, that was the movies that everyone was looking forward to going, Oh my God, the backstories is back.
And you’re the guy behind the scenes making it happen. That was a big
Tory Belleci: crazy for you. It was it, it was because I finished working on Starship trooper and then like, they, they, you know, the way it would work in the model shop is there would be these big movies that would come in and they would hire a bunch of people.
And then when the movie would go away, then they would just kind of lay everybody off. So I was laid off and I was just kind of looking for my next job. And I got a call again from the model shop and it was Steve golly. Steve golly was. One of the original model makers for, you know, the first star Wars [00:18:00] and he called me up and he’s like, Hey, we’re looking for model makers.
We’re working on a new project. And I was like, awesome. Like I’m available. He’s like, okay, cool. I’ll start next week. And I’m on, what’s the project. And he’s like, Oh, I can’t really tell you yet. And I was like, okay. And so when I came in. And they told me what it was. It was like this crazy secretive.
Like it, it was, it was like, everything was so top secret. Like if we wanted to move models from the shop into the. Stages where they would get filmed or from the art department back into the model shop or whatever. If we ever stepped outside of the building, we would have to cover everything with sheets, because there were people in the parking lot paparazzis trying to get shots of what the new star Wars was going to look like.
It was nuts.
Jeff: That is crazy. Yeah. So I mean it, because it is star Wars in many ways, the special effect people are kind of stars in their own. Right. [00:19:00] In those, in those films who, like I said, the movies are almost as well known for what you did behind the scenes as what’s going on, on screen.
Tory Belleci: Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, even more so, like, you know, it’s like some of these characters that they’ve created are iconic and, you know, and just to be, like you said, being A geek and going, Oh my God, it’s the next. Star Wars. It’s the next three star Wars. It was a dream. That’s true. Like never in my mind in, you know, if I went and told that little kid who watched star Wars someday, they’d be working on star Wars, building models.
I mean, it was, it was almost too much to handle and, you know, we would just kind of like. Everybody in the shop who are all also very much Saifai star Wars geeks. We would just be looking at each other going, Oh my God, can you believe it? Or get on
Jeff: star Wars. That must have been so, so absolutely surreal.
Now was George Lucas heavily involved in what you were doing the need to get to
Tory Belleci: meet him? [00:20:00] Yeah. So George Lucas you know, this was. Kind of his baby. And he would come through the shop every day with the art director and they would look over different models, whatever. And so when I first started, they told everybody, they tell everybody, if you see George Lucas in the hall, are you seeing him.
You know, somewhere on the campus, just don’t talk to him, leave him alone, you know? Cause you get, you can imagine it’s like you have a company full of people who got into the industry because of star Wars. And now here’s the creator of star Wars walking. He’s just going to have a mob of star Wars. You don’t tell me this.
What about this? How about this character? So. You know, there was this memo that went out to the whole company. If you see George don’t talk to him. So I was like, okay. And you know, and we would like, we’d see them in the, you know, if we were getting coffee and he would be like [00:21:00] walking by, you would just look at them and you wouldn’t say anything.
You’d just. Okay, leave him alone. So now I’m working on the Federation battleship and we, that was the one that kinda is like a little, kind of like a toilet bowl seat. It was like a ring, like to go with a big sphere in the middle. And so we’re out on stage setting it up and the producers came out and George Lucas came out and he comes up and I like, I know this model, like the back of my hand.
And, you know, I help build it, help light it, you know? And so he comes up to me and I’m setting it up and he’s like, does this light up in here? Can you get like, does this area in here light up? And I just look at him. I don’t say a word and I look at the producers and you’re just looking at me like, why is like, why is he tired?
I mean, to me, and he goes, this part right here, does it light up? And I’m just staring at him with [00:22:00] this blank look. And the producer looks over at me. He goes, You can talk to him. And I was like, Oh, okay. Cause I was told,
Jeff: did they look and say anything? Like, like what the hell was that all about? Totally. He
Tory Belleci: he just giggled because he was like, why isn’t this person?
Like, I just asked him a question. He’s not responding. I was told not to talk to you. I don’t know what to
Jeff: say. When Jocelyn has walked past you, is there a light that just follows him,
Tory Belleci: this aura, a glow about
Jeff: him? So after working on Ireland, you didn’t actually decided to leave and go to a MythBusters. That, that was sounds like to me, like there’s a ballsy ass move. You, you left Ireland to go to a show that. Hadn’t done anything yet? Obviously myth wasn’t within exists. Jamie, I’m gonna say his name, wrong again.
Hiring a man. I mean, what, what made you think, like where did that confidence come from that I’m going to go do this show now and leave ILM.
Tory Belleci: Well, it [00:23:00] was. At a point in model making, like at the time the industry was kind of drying up more and more effects shots were going to CG. And I, and I remember, you know, we would put bids, you know, movie would come into ILM and the computer graphics department would bid on the shot.
And then the model shop would bid on the shop and whoever’s. You know, whoever’s budget was lower and could be done faster, would get the shot. And the computers were just getting better and better, and the shots were looking better and better. So, so it was like model making are, remember we would lose a lot of effect shots to computer generation and, and the, it was obvious that model making wasn’t going to be around it.
It was, it felt like it was becoming a dying art and. In my mind, I felt like, okay, I’ve worked here for eight years. I know these [00:24:00] guys really well. Like I can always come back. If this TV thing doesn’t happen. And I was like, let’s go, you know, let’s try this television thing and see what happens there. If it doesn’t work out, I figure, you know, I’ll work on this for six months and then go back to building models.
But that didn’t happen then all of a sudden it was like MythBusters never ended. It just kept
Jeff: going. Did you remember what Jamie Hanuman’s pitch was to you about what MythBusters was going to be? It
Tory Belleci: was actually Adam, that called me. He he left because Adam and I were working at ILM. We were working on episode two at the time, and then he left.
To go film the pilot. Well, actually, no, I think it might’ve been, I think we were working on matrix two and three and and so he took a break to go work on the pilot. And then they picked it up and then. They did one season, [00:25:00] which I think was like six episodes or something like that. And then he, Adam called me, he was like, look, we’re looking for background characters.
And and I said, okay, what does that mean? He’s like, well, we’re doing this show. It’s, we’re looking at urban legends and we’re using the scientific method to test it. But what we need is people who can build anything. And set things up and then Jamie and I will come in and we’ll test it. And I’m like, okay.
So I don’t have to. And he’s like, no. And he was like, you just build and the camera guys will follow you. They might ask you a question every once in a while, what’s that, or what are you doing? But you don’t have to host. And I was like done, got it. Like, I can build anything. I just don’t want to be on TV.
He’s like, you got it. No problem. And so then like two weeks into it. It was supposed to speed things up, but it wasn’t, it was actually slowing it down. So then they look to me, Carrie and Scottie at the [00:26:00] time and they’re like, okay. So we’re going to break you guys off into a separate team. Jamie and Adam are going to do their stories.
You’re going to do your stories welcome. You’re now a host and it was like my worst nightmare.
Jeff: Well, I mean the bill team with you and eventually grant and Carrie became that like, like the great Trinity of a team, right? I mean, yeah. And, and, and as important. Part of MythBusters on the show as Adam and Jamie because the chemistry between you three was, was, was fantastic.
It wasn’t always that way.
Tory Belleci: Well, grant and I had worked together for years at, at ILM. And so we knew each other really well. Carrie, I just met when I started on MythBusters, but but then, you know, I worked with her for a couple of seasons. I don’t remember how long Scotty was there for. But bef, you know, so I got to know Carrie really well.
And then when Scottie left, it was like, okay, we need another member. And he was one of the [00:27:00] candidates and it was kind of like a no brainer. It was like, I know him, he can build anything. He’s super quirky and geeky he’ll be perfect. And Yeah, kind of, I feel like MythBusters, we hit lightning in a bottle.
Like it was just one of those kind of things where everything came together at the right time and it just kind of took off.
Jeff: And did he find that grant, you and Carrie complimented each other’s strengths and weaknesses? Like what were the things that you were good at were things that maybe they lacked and what they were strong were things that you lacked?
Like what are you guys very good at balancing each
Tory Belleci: other? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Carrie was more of the artistic kind of free spirit. Grant was like very rigid and very precise. And, you know, he was always thinking mechanically. He almost, you know, thought like a robot and then I was more, I was more of the Daredevil and then just kind of like the practical, like how do we get it [00:28:00] done?
Like, I don’t want to spend a lot of time. What’s the easiest solution to get, to, to achieve our goal. So, yeah, we, we did really work. We worked really well together.
Jeff: The thing called the about MythBusters, it became such a cultural icon. Not only was it big culturally, but I mean, to me, it seemed like it was so important to getting kids interested in science.
And did you find that, like when did you realize that shows impact on the younger generations and making them want to be interested in math and science and all that?
Tory Belleci: Yeah, that’s a good question. Because at the time we, since we were shooting in San Francisco, we weren’t in Hollywood. So we weren’t really living the kind of TV lifestyle, you know, like, Oh, you’re in television, new Moses.
Oh, that must be so glamorous. And how cool. But we were almost like in our own tiny bubble, it felt like we were still working. Right. Because we were building everything ourselves. We were in a shop, we were getting dirty, they were just filming us. And so. [00:29:00] We just felt like, okay, we’re just doing this thing.
And it didn’t really register that it was impacting people outside of what we were doing. And it wasn’t until we went to, I think it was dragon con you know, it was a comic book convention, and we came out, it was Carrie grant, myself, who we walked out and there, it was like a room full of like 2000 people and they were all cheering and it was like, Whoa.
Like people are actually watching this show in so many. Parents and teachers would come up and be like, Oh my gosh, it’s, it’s such a, it’s such a entertaining show, but you’re learning stuff. And you know, my, my students get so much out of it or my kids get so much out of it because they’re actually learn.
It’s not just. Passive entertainment there. They’re taking stuff away from it, you know, regarding science and math
Jeff: is that when you CA after MythBusters and [00:30:00] eventually you ended up doing the great escape is, did, did because of how the great skip is set up. It makes me wonder, did you decide during, from doing MythBusters, that you wanted to keep doing things that had an educational impact on.
Tory Belleci: Well, that was Richard Hammond’s idea completely. I mean, like he, you know, like we did right. Rabbit project, Carrie grant, and I did a show on Netflix called the white rabbit project. And it was kind of like similar to MythBusters because it was three of us. And we were looking delving into stories and folklore or whatever and kind of testing the technology.
And so, so like we definitely fell into this niche of. Science enthusiasts. And entertainers are hosts presenters, but when the great escape is happened I got a call from a friend who was a producer on MythBusters and he was in LA called me up and he’s like, Hey, I just had [00:31:00] dinner with Richard Hammond.
And I was like, Freaking out. Cause I love top gear in the grand tour. Like I’m a huge fan of Richard Hammons and he goes he wanted to know if he can get your contact information, he wanted to call you. And I was like, how does he, how does he even know who I am? Like, I didn’t even know I registered on his radar and I’m just going, Oh my gosh, like I’m such a huge fan of this guy.
And he wants to talk to me. I was like, yeah, absolutely. And so he called me up and he’s like, look. I want to recreate, I want to create a new genre, a new format for pop science. Like there hasn’t been a really good pop science show in a long time. And he’s like, you had MythBusters, we had top gear and he had a show called brainiacs.
I don’t know if you remember that show. And he, he loves the science and the technology and he’s so good at. You know, demonstrating it and talking about it. And so he said, look, what if you and I [00:32:00] work together, we bring your MythBusters brand. I’ll bring my top gear grand tour brand. And we come up with a new format for a show that you’ve never seen.
He’s like, Oh no, one’s ever seen a show like this before. And I’m like, okay, what is it? He was like, I don’t know yet. And so. So over a period of like three years, we would just check in with each other every couple of months and be like, what about this idea? What about this idea? And we just go back and forth, back and forth.
And then finally he called me up and he goes, I got the idea I’m on, what is it? And he’s like, it’s a survival show. I’m like a survivor. Oh, show like bear Grylls already. Does that really? Well? Like why would we, we try to tackle a survival show. I don’t know anything about survival. He’s like, no, no, no, no, no.
This is a different kind of survival show. We’re not going to worry about like the water, the shelter, the food we’re gonna, we’re gonna figure that out. Like in the first five minutes of the show, the [00:33:00] real challenge is how do we deal with the boredom of being stuck on a deserted Island? So we’re going to do is use our building skills and our engineering know-how to make the Island awesome.
And then, you know, occasionally we’ll try to build things to get off the Island, but mostly we’re just going to try to make the Island. The most bad-ass playground you’ve ever seen. And I’m like, Oh my God, I love it. And he’s like, we’re not going to survive. We’re going to thrive. And I’m like, please don’t ever use that word again.
Jeff: Okay. I think one of the coolest things about the show is also kind of, kind of funny that the show takes place on one of the most beautiful islands in Panama that I’ve ever seen. And pardon me at first, I was thinking how much of the show was just an excuse to exist on that Island? Before I looked at the house, like some old bitch, he came up and he thought to himself, do I want a vacation on an Island?
Tory Belleci: true. It’s like we literally [00:34:00] would just like every day we would just get up, walk down to the beach. Get in our little costumes, get on set. And then we just look at each other and be like, can you believe they’re letting us do this? We did it. We did it. We did it. Yeah, it was by far the best, the most challenging, but most rewarding, just magical experience I’ve ever had in.
You know, in any capacity, as far as television or movies go. It was, yeah, it was like a paid vacation.
Jeff: I, I can’t, I couldn’t help it. I did. I watched all the shows. I couldn’t help that the show’s biggest flaw was that the Island on Panama was so beautiful. I was like, why are you guys leaving? What the fuck are you guys thinking?
Staying on the DMI that is beautiful. And you have food, you have water, where are you going
Tory Belleci: in the early stages? So. I went over to London where Richard Hammond’s production company is. And so I spent a week in there. We spent a week in their [00:35:00] office. They and so we have writers, producers, and we just sat around a table, you know, for.
Six to eight hours a day, just coming up with the ideas, like how, what is this show gonna look like? And so early on, we figured out that if both of us wanted to stay on the Island, there would be no conflict. And there would be no reason to like it, you know, the conflict would be gone. So then it was like, okay, what of Richard is sick of like being on television, sick of all the responsibilities of life.
And he is. Deliberately trying to stay on this Island where I’m like, I want to get back home. I want to get back to my family. I want to get back to life as I knew it. And he’s kind of Savage out, you know, like he’s doing things to basically. Keep me happy so that I don’t want to get off the Island too.
And so it worked out really well because he, you know, if you, [00:36:00] you see everything he’s doing is to make the Island more fun, where everything I’m doing, I’m trying to make the Island like livable, like Felicity. We need running water. We need. Shelter and where he’s like, look, I made a car. Isn’t this? Cool.
Jeff: Well, like I said, the funny episodes was the July 4th episode, which is the most avert effort of Richard Hammond to sabotage your ability to get off that Island. I thought it was, it was so smart. And I, I thought it was interesting that when watching the show, you guys created very interesting characters for yourselves.
I mean, the Tory on the great escape is, is definitely a very, I mean, It sounded like there’s kind of a little more dour, a little more serious version of Tori and Richard Hammond is sort of like this weird, crazy doctor. Who’d got job anywhere close to reality.
Tory Belleci: It’s so true. It’s, it’s like, you know, neither of us, I mean, he’s like amazing.
I, I am not an actor. And so for the first, [00:37:00] like help a weeks, it was like, Like, I don’t know if I’m doing this right. And they’re like, just, how would you play it in the end? Cause this is you. And it was like, Oh, that’s easy. I know how I would react to this. And then the moment I was able to do that, I, it was just pure play and we had so much fun, but I remember the moment we got on the Island.
So we flew into Panama and we spent the night and they’re like, okay, so tomorrow morning, we’re all going to pile into this tiny little. Airplane. And we’re going to check in there. There’s like a, a small hotel and it’s not, I mean, it’s like shacks, you know, this, this Island isn’t that big. And so it’s not like a, a five-star hotel or anything, you know, it’s just a cool little resort with little bungalows that the crew and the cast stayed.
And they’re like, we’re going to check you guys in. We’re probably not going to do anything today. And then the next day we’ll shoot some tests. So we land and they’re like, Oh the producers want to do a test with you and Richard down at the beach to the, [00:38:00] just the opening scene, just to see how it works.
And so now here we are with all the executives from Amazon. And all the crew that we’ve just met. And I never worked with Richard before. Like at this point I know him, but I’ve never actually worked with them and they rolled camera, you know? And then they’re like, okay, action. And it was like, I just was freaking out.
I’m like, what if this doesn’t work? Like I’m crapped my pants. And so we did the scene, we did the test and both of us after they cut, it was like, Oh, my God, that was like, I was like, this is so surreal. Like, I’ve been a huge fan of yours and now I’m in a scene with you. But then after we were done with the test, everybody behind the camera was laughing and they were like, okay, good.
We got something good here. Like this is going to work. And so it was like a huge
Jeff: relief. That was a scripted. Or did you add live
Tory Belleci: this all? So it was outlined, it was like heavily outlined. So it was like, okay, you have to [00:39:00] get from, you know, you have to get these points in and get there. However you want.
Just know that you need to talk about this factual point and you’re trying to get Richard to go over here. So a lot of it was improv. But like I said, we had like a heavily outlined guide to get us through the scenes, but yeah, it’s. It’s funny watching it now. I, cause they did the, they had me play more of the serious, like logical.
Like we have to get off this Island, Richard, we can’t like, I’m scared. Like I don’t want to stay here. And he’s like, Ooh, kind of like, like you know, Kurt’s from, from
Tory Belleci: he’s lost his mind and he’s like, I am the King of this Island.
Jeff: The one thing that I found interesting about the show is that on the IDM BP the, I am DB you’re listed as hosts, not cast member.
Is there a particular reason, something about how you present, [00:40:00] you viewed the show that you were seen more as the host, not the
Tory Belleci: character. Well, because this was, this was Richard’s idea. He wanted to make a show where we are talking we’re we’re explaining. He was basically saying, this is our show. Like, these are the shows that we have done all of our lives.
Right. Science, engineering, we’re explaining what’s going on, but he was like, I don’t want. To break the fourth wall. I don’t want to look into the camera and go what I’m building right now. He’s also, we have to come up with devices where we’re talking to each other and explaining what we’re doing and that therefore explains it to the audience.
So, so it’s, it’s a pop science unscripted show, but we’re doing it so you can watch it two different ways. You can watch it as these two idiots stuck on a desert Island and almost killing each other. Or you can watch it and actually [00:41:00] get some real science out of the show.
Jeff: And. Well, when you guys were deciding what you were, you could build on this show.
Okay. You, you, obviously, you, I mean, you build everything from basically a helicopter to a boat, to a massive tree house, to a tank. When, when, when you were deciding what you could build, was there any consideration of like when, before you started, like what was going to be on this Island? Or was it, I want to build this.
Let’s pretend this is already on the Island for us. Like, how did you decide, like where the rules to determine what was there and what not, and what was
Tory Belleci: not there for you? The only rule we came up with was everything we build has to be motivated to either do something on the Island or get us off the Island.
Like we, weren’t just going to build stuff for like, Oh, this is cool. It’s everything had a purpose. And so with that said It was kind of like, you know, we were like, okay, we want to, obviously we want to build a car. And because we want to tow things from the shipwreck. [00:42:00] So how are we going to build that car?
And then if that doesn’t work, what would be the next bill that would help us? And then it’s like, okay, if we were to try to get off the Island, You know, by see what, what inventions, what creations could we build to get us off the Island? So it was, it was always motivated by that factor. You know, we, we didn’t want it just to be like, Oh, look, we built this thing for no reason.
It was like, everything was built for reason. And then it became. Then we found other uses for that, you know, it was like, here’s this, here’s this tank that we’re using to drag stuff back to the house. But then, you know, at one point Richard turns it into a military tank
Jeff: and, and one thing that’s kind of interesting.
Cause like I said, you’re the way you’re building things. You’re building things from tankers and heaters and other kind of random things. So when you look at those materials that are available to you, did you just take the material. Which honestly are not the normal interiors. You would use a build a car or a helicopter or anything [00:43:00] like that.
How did you guys decide what materials would be on the Island for you to use.
Tory Belleci: Well, that was, you know, where we took some huge creative license, you know, it was like, because so much stuff washed, you know, we just said, you know, if we need a bike, it washes a shore. Oh, if we need something it’s magically on the boat.
Oh look, two shipping containers washed up shore, look at all this stuff inside. So, you know, we were pretty confident that people would come along on the ride with us. I mean, it, it’s a ridiculous, you know, goofy show. And we are like caricatures of ourselves, but we felt like if we do it right, people will see that we’re obviously not taking ourselves seriously and go along for the ride.
Jeff: and the show is a lot of fun. I mean, and watching as an adult, I still found the show a very enjoyable the scene, the episode where you guys are at war with each other is really hysterical. I enjoyed the hell out of that. [00:44:00] And, and when you guys were filming, cause it likes to, it shows a lot of fun, a lot of entertainment value there.
What, what was the consideration between spending time dealing with the science and explaining it and obviously the entertainment value inherent in the show. How did you decide you’re going to balance that?
Tory Belleci: That was just kind of like a writing, you know, it was like. Any, any kind of conflict or need that we needed to do.
Right. So it was like, okay, we need to, here’s a, here’s a problem. We need to solve that problem. And it’s like dramatically, we could fight about it. And then it was like, okay, but now we have to figure out using science, how can we solve that problem? So it was just, it was a really fun experiment of a new type of.
Way of doing a science show, you know, it was like, it’s not like, okay, we’re going to cut these vegetables and make batteries. Why kids? Because it’s possible. You can do it. That’s why we’re doing it. But it’s like, no, we got to charge [00:45:00] our phone so we could call home and get somebody to come and rescue. And so, so it was really fun that.
All the, the, you know, it was so easy to blend the science into the drama or whatever you want to call it. Ridiculousness that the balance just kind of found its own. You know, it kind of found, it found its own way of balancing out.
Jeff: So, I mean, but I can’t give anything. I don’t give anything away on what happens in the show, but I’m sure there’s.
An issue with potential for season two, unless you guys have figured out how to get stranded again. Is there a, is there some idea that you’re going to create another season for this and something like in the
Tory Belleci: works. Yeah. I mean, like, while we were on the Island, we were like, okay, how, what, like what, like if we get season two, what season two is going to be?
And, you know, I’ve, I’ve heard like a lot of w one idea was like a C a prison. We could escape from prison. And then I was like, Ooh, what if it’s like, [00:46:00] Escape from New York. Like what if there’s like the, while we were on the Island, the civilization has collapsed and now there’s like, sit, you know, there’s like whole cities that are, have been turned into prisons and we.
Crash land in one of those, or we get thrown into there. How do we escape? So there’s definitely plans for, you know, season two, but nothing, nothing for sure yet.
Jeff: When, when, when potentially word come down that there is going to be a second season of this.
Tory Belleci: I that’s a good question. This, these are all, these are all Ana like the, the analytics, right?
They, they look at all the data and they go, Oh, okay. Yep. This makes sense. Let’s make another season. So know I’m not even sure when, when we’ll find out,
Jeff: is there a PR or you, could you expand the cast on introduce more discover X discovery, actors hosts?
Tory Belleci: Well, cause we were. We were, when we were talking about this, we were like, [00:47:00] Ooh, we could have like, Kind of guest appearance, you know, in, in between episodes where somebody could come ashore on their boat and we’re like, Oh my God, thank God you’ve saved us, man.
And they’re like, cool. Yeah. All right. Yeah. We’ll just spend the night and then we’ll, we’ll leave tomorrow. And then we wake up the next morning and they left without us and we’re like, Whoa. You kind of like Gilligan’s Island where you would have people come in and then they would just go, yeah, we’ll help you escape.
And then for some reason they would just leave. So we, we had talked about that and we were just gonna like call any kind of, you know, a friend that was an actor, you know, a celebrity, whatever. And, but then Richard really wanted to see what our dynamic was. He was like, let’s see what you and I could come up with.
No, just us two stuck on the Island. And I’m so glad he did, because it’s like now, you know, we’re, he he’s like my best friend. Like, you know, it was like, it was, it was, he was a [00:48:00] fan. I was a fan of his, but now it’s like, we were so close during the filming. And we just had so much fun that it’s like, you know, he’s a friend for life.
Jeff: Well, the sales pitch to other actors must be pretty easy. Hey, come to Panama on an Island, tropical Island we’ll pay you. Don’t worry about it. You know, there’s a nice little pitch to give to somebody. Yeah.
Tory Belleci: Yeah. But you know what? They like this one particular Island. So a lot of those tropical islands, they spray for bugs.
And this one, they do not. They’re very conscientious of, of the the ecology of the, of the Island. And this is the Island. This is Island where they filmed that show naked and afraid if you’ve seen that show. I know of it. Yes. Yeah. And you see those people and they’re like covered in like welts from some bug, biting them, these bugs.
Are on this Island and we got ravaged. I mean, it was like, it [00:49:00] was so disgusting. Like any things were tiny, they look like little gnats, but then you would just feel a little bite and it would create these giant welts. And so like the whole crew, when you’d be down at the beach, You just be getting eaten alive and you know, that, that part wasn’t fun,
Jeff: but it’s kind of funny that you say that was where they were filming naked and free.
Cause there’s, there’s a couple episodes where you’re discussing the other person on the Island. That there’s a third person somewhere on the Island, I guess. Technically, I guess there was, it was a whole nother episode series being filmed somewhere else on that Island.
Tory Belleci: Yeah. Cause I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s the other thing about the show?
It’s a mystery. There might, you know, it’s like it could be pirates, it could be a monster. It could be who knows, you know, there, there there’s something out in that, in the, in the jungle of that Island,
Jeff: I think I was was willing to bet that somebody like Carrie Byron was gonna come out of the woods and be like, it was her this entire time.
[00:50:00] But and so the show is on Amazon prime. All six episodes are now available. Is it because it’s on Amazon prime? Is it harder to gauge the success of it because you don’t have the weekly, like viewership the numbers, you know, like
Tory Belleci: it is. Yeah, it is. For us it’s trickier because we don’t, I mean, I don’t personally know, you know, when we worked on MythBusters every week, we would get numbers and it was like, the ratings are this or the ratings are that.
But, but I mean, even those, those numbers were. Weren’t completely accurate because they don’t, they didn’t have the data at the time where now with Amazon and Netflix, they know what you’re searching for. They know how we know what you’re watching, how long you’re watching it for and the pattern in which you watch shows.
So, so, you know, nowadays. Amazon and Hulu and Netflix, it’s like, they know exactly how many people are watching and [00:51:00] how, how they watch. So, so it is, it is tricky because yeah, I’m dying to know like, are we doing enough people watch? Are we going to get a season?
Jeff: Oh, I’m. I said, I’m hoping I found the show.
A lot of fun. I. I started watching the show because honestly I wanted to interview you and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started watching it. And I thought, this is this quirky, but after a while you get so sucked in, you’re just like, damn Richard hammy, go get him. He deserves it. That bastards.
Tory Belleci: I love that. I really appreciate it. Yeah. Cause it’s like, you know, some of the criticism we’ve gotten is, Oh, I thought you guys were going to be really. Stuck on an Island and trying to like really surviving. And it was just like, no, like, like we, we do those shows outside of, you know, it’s like he does that show where he’s being real.
I do a show where I’m being real. This is, this is us playing fantasy, but there’s real science. And and yeah, that’s a, that’s a, it’s like if. [00:52:00] If people could just like it’s, it’s such a, like a ridiculous, it was like even working on it. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like my fantasy. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be, he’s stuck on a deserted Island and, and be able to make it awesome and build whatever I wanted.
And here we are filming the show. It’s it’s like that, that little kid inside of people it’s really gonna resonate
Jeff: on the show. Just a fun, relaxing quality of the show, especially with all going what’s going on in the world. It was nice just to watch the show and you just enjoy, I mean, it was, you could tell, you’re watching to adults, you know, like kids having a good time on an Island and it was, it was fun.
I mean, I, I. My first one into, I thought it was going to be like you said, the hardcore, this is how I would escape the Island kind of thing. But after watching for a little while, and I realized, no, I don’t want that show. I want this show. What they’re making is so much cooler than would have been if it was like, let’s [00:53:00] really pretend what would be like if I had to get off this Island and build, you know, this.
But with the trees in the background, you know, it was like, they’d been a fucking tree house. You know, they created beer. Then they have a lighthouse and a fireworks. This is better than that. This is fun.
Awesome. So what, what are you working on now? What’s next for you?
Tory Belleci: So I’m working on a new show. I can’t really talk about it yet. It’s going to be announced on the 15th so Monday. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So just started working on that and well,
Jeff: for the show, this one released for about two weeks. If you do want to drop a spoiler.
People will, will, will be released after the 15th. You just want to give a heads up on what that would be. Okay. No, that’s okay. Don’t worry about it.
Tory Belleci: I mean, I could, I could call you, like, after it’s announced I could come back in. I just, I I’m afraid to, I don’t want to, I’m not, I’m not allowed to talk about it yet.
Jeff: fair enough. When you are please come back on the show and [00:54:00] discuss it. Yeah, absolutely. I can’t wait. And also when it, when it starts. Filming on the 15th or get released on the 15th
Tory Belleci: or so it’s announced on the 15th. So we we’ve already started filming. We’ve been filming for. For two weeks.
And the show will be announced on Monday when it’s the release date, who knows it’ll probably be, you know, further maybe towards the middle or end of the year.
Jeff: Oh, whenever you’re ready to talk about it. You have an an open date. I’ll shuffle, whatever other interviews I have that on any given day that you want and we’ll make it happen.
Awesome. Thank you. No worries. No worries. I definitely wanna hear about it. And if you can have a Brayden, just send me an email. What the announcement, when did you write it? And we’ll announce it on our web websites and mobile tweeted all out. We’ll make sure it’s known to everybody.
Tory Belleci: Awesome.
Jeff: Thank you so much.
This was a lot of fun. I greatly appreciate it.
Tory Belleci: Yeah, I had a good time. Thank you so much. Have
Jeff: a great night. Bye bye. [00:55:00]