TESTS OF FAITH

TV’S TODD SAMP­SON ON THE STUNTS THAT RE­ALLY SCARED HIM

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SALLY COATES

Re­design my Brain, Body Hack and now your lat­est show Life on the Line – what is it about dan­ger and pain that draws you? It’s not that I’m at­tracted to dan­ger and pain, I’m just a re­ally in­quis­i­tive per­son that likes to ex­plore the nat­u­ral world, science and con­cept of hu­man po­ten­tial. I don’t see dan­ger as a stop sign, I see it as some­thing to keep in mind while you’re do­ing it. In many ways, Re­design My Brain, Body­hack and Life on the Line are a tril­ogy that com­bine two of my loves – science and ad­ven­ture.

Dur­ing film­ing, was there a real risk of death? How con­trolled was the en­vi­ron­ment? Were there peo­ple used as test dum­mies be­fore­hand? Give us the gritty de­tails.

There were no stunt dou­bles in­volved as I didn’t want some­one else to take the risk be­fore me on my be­half. We did have a dummy, I called him Bob. Bob was de­signed with my di­men­sions and got re­ally smashed up in some of the pre-tests. We tried to con­trol the en­vi­ron­ment as much as pos­si­ble but there was al­ways room for hu­man er­ror, me­chan­i­cal er­ror and na­ture to have its way.

Which ex­per­i­ment was your favourite to do?

My favourite was the un­der­wa­ter gun­shot, be­cause I had never stood in front of a loaded AK-47 be­fore. I was robbed once at gun point in Mex­ico, but that was dif­fer­ent – that gun was smaller. There was ten­sion and doubt on set the en­tire time. When the gun went off, be­cause of the shock­waves in the wa­ter and my body’s re­ac­tion, for a mo­ment ev­ery­one thought I was shot. It was the strangest feel­ing. It was just bizarre to put a gun in a pool and stand at point blank range. Once in a life­time, hope­fully.

Which ex­per­i­ment scared you the most, or did you have the most doubt about per­form­ing?

The bal­loon flight was the scari­est. The first real test was the ac­tual flight, we had a very small win­dow of op­por­tu­nity and when I got up 120m I couldn’t help but think if some­thing goes wrong fall­ing from that height wouldn’t be good and there was noth­ing I could do about it once I was up there. Even Jeff my di­rec­tor went through some se­ri­ous doubts the night be­fore. It looks so easy and al­most child­like but it re­ally was po­ten­tially deadly. Life on the Line pre­mieres March 21 at 7pm on ABC.

Who dares wins: Todd Samp­son com­bines science and ad­ven­ture in his high-risk ex­per­i­ments.

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