Nickelodeon announced that Legends of the Hidden Temple host Kirk Fogg will return to “play a key figure in the new movie” based on the show in a role “that pays homage to his duties in the classic Nick series.” I sat down with him on the film’s set in Vancouver to discuss why he still loves the show, how his initial worries about being in the film were quickly erased, and why we should all go a little easier on the kids that struggled with that damn silver monkey.
For 120 episodes Kirk Fogg was the tour guide for hopeful kids, the overwhelming majority of whom would go home disappointed, though, as Fogg stressed, not empty-handed: “They all got participation trophies.” It’s been 20 years since the show went off the air (it ran from 1993-96), but Fogg’s enthusiasm about having been an important part of it remains as fresh as ever.
That said, he remembers things getting off to a bit of a rough start. The premiere episode was filmed after only three weeks of prep. “The first day we ever shot the show, we shot only one show, and it took us 18 hours,” he said, “I’d like to hear from those kids. I’d like to hear who those kids were and how they feel today.” Fortunately, production became a lot more efficient over time, shooting four or five shows a day in about 12 hours.
Things improved when the Legends team decided to shoot by segment, not by episode (meaning they would do all of The Moat races first, followed by all of the Steps of Knowledge rounds, etc.). This also meant that the poor souls who didn’t even make it past the first round at least didn’t have to waste their entire day on set.
These marathon sessions made Fogg feel like he had really gone through a kind of adventure with the kids that did make it all the way to the Temple Run. “I was invested in the journey,” he said, laughing about how angry people got over his recent comments about the show having been designed to produce few winners (“There’s a budget; they’re not really going to give out 40 trips to the Bahamas.”). Still, he was personally always rooting for all of them to win, and would even constantly yell out clues during the final run. Fogg said his favorite moment from the show involved one victory that actually got him choked up.
He remembered a contestant who did the entire run by herself. “She was little. She wasn’t very strong, but she was so determined,” and after she finished he said, “She was crying, and I was kind of emotional… I was really caught up.”
Don’t think Fogg couldn’t appreciate the humor in some failures, though: “The other best moment is when one kid knocked the Shrine of the Silver Monkey down into the studio.” Still, he couldn’t rave enough how much he enjoyed the young contestants. “I’m telling ya, all the kids were great.” Fogg wanted to make sure I knew he wasn’t exaggerating when he stated that, over 120 episodes, he didn’t have a negative word to say about any of the kids that participated.x
The children from the first season faced a challenge the second and third season kids didn’t have to worry about: the unknown. “This was a show that had never been done like this,” he said, “The first season there was a lot of deer-in-the-headlights… like ‘What is this?'”
It should come as no surprise that Fogg adamantly defends all of the kids who struggled with completing the three-piece puzzle known as the Shrine of the Silver Monkey, seemingly the easiest puzzle ever that somehow caused so many delays.
“It’s way down on the end of the Temple. You have to do all that work to get to the Shrine,” he said, “You don’t understand how exhausted you are. So you get there, you’re delirious, people are screaming, there’s music going on at the same time, you have producers on the ground who are yelling, I’m yelling on the microphone, and it’s confusing. And it’s all silver. You can get the base on, but once you get to the base, it’s that second piece. It’s like, ‘Where does that thing go on?'”
So no matter how frustrated you and I found ourselves during those episodes, the host empathized with the contestants, especially because he knew the difficulty of the Temple Run himself (his favorite segment of the show). Fogg said he was good at it, but that it was “really super hard.”
“You don’t think how hard it is,” he said, “You are breathing like your worst nightmare. When you finish you are going like, ‘Oh my god I think I might be having a heart attack.'”
With such a love for the show, you might think Fogg jumped at the chance to be cast in the movie, but he was worried. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. They’re gonna want me to come back and do the show, but I’m the older Kirk Fogg now.'” Fortunately, when he read the script, his fears were assuaged. While he couldn’t reveal many specifics about his role, we can say it is perfect for him and will capture his continuing passion for the show.
(And for you fellow Legends fans that are worried about whether or not the movie will live up to the beloved game show, Fogg said when he read the script it was obvious it was written by a fan of the show. “He’s hitting all of the levels on it.”)
It was surreal to sit down and talk with Fogg, and to stand on the incredible set together, seeing as how much I loved that show when I was a kid and would have done anything to compete on it (it was even weirder because he was actually wearing his get-up from the show, though before you make jokes about him always looking like that it was only because he was needed for promotional shots). Fogg’s perspective and genuine love for having been a part of something that was important to a lot of kids is not lost on him.
“When I die, the first line that will come out will be, ‘The former host of Legends of the Hidden Temple has died tragically,” he joked, “But that’s what I’ll be remembered by. You know what? I’m sure glad to be remembered by something like this.”
I agree. Kirk Fogg: The Legend of the Hidden Temple isn’t a bad way to be remembered.
What are your favorite memories from the show? The choice to share them in our comments section is yours and yours alone.