Former special forces commando Ant Middleton reveals why he found Hollywood star Rebel Wilson 'inspiring' and 'surprising' when he took her on a Mexican adventure for his new documentary
Former Royal Marines Commando, Ant Middleton, takes Hollywood star Rebel Wilson on an action-packed trip in the Mexican outback to get to know the real Rebel beneath the A-list star for his new documentary Ant Middleton & Rebel Wilson: Straight Talking.
Over the course of three days, Ant will be chatting to Rebel and discovering who she is away from the headlines and paparazzi and just what makes her tick.
One Direction's Liam Payne was the first to get the Middleton treatment when he joined the former SAS hardman trekking across the Namibian desert and gave a very personal interview during their three-day adventure in 2019.
Now it’s the turn of Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect star Rebel who will be seen throwing caution to the wind as she joins Ant diving with sharks, riding horseback across mountains and buggy-racing across dunes.
Here in an exclusive interview, 40-year-old, father of five, Ant, who shot to fame as Chief Instructor on C4’s popular challenge show SAS: Who Dares Wins, tells us how Rebel impressed and inspired him, why things got emotional and which British actor he'd love to take on an Arctic adventure....
We chat to Ant Middleton about his new documentary Ant Middleton & Rebel Wilson: Straight Talking
Had you and Rebel Wilson met before doing this?
"No, but I was a fan. I’ve got kids so we’ve watched her films. She’s always so funny on screen and she’s got this lovely positive aura about her. The producers put the feelers out to see if she’d do the show and to our delight she said, ‘Let’s do it!’"
What were your preconceptions of Rebel?
"To gauge someone’s energy you have to be in front of them. People can come across as positive and happy on screen or social media, but it’s only when you’re face to face and you look them in the eye that you can feel their energy, good or bad. Rebel has a super-positive energy, she’s intelligent and also sensitive. People are used to seeing the fun, bubbly side to her, but once I got into who she really is, her upbringing, her life in Hollywood, her weight and recent weight loss, there were a few tears and a couple of home truths came out. We all have insecurities, anyone who says they doesn’t is lying."
How did the pair of you bond?
"We’ve both had knockbacks in our lives and failures along the way. Rebel has worked and worked, she’s been rejected but she kept going until she worked her way into Hollywood. Nowadays Hollywood works around her. I’ve also worked my way up from the bottom, we’ve both got resilience. In that sense I could really relate to her which was great because it meant I could really ask her some very personal questions and she felt comfortable enough to answer."
What was the most challenging part of the three-day adventure?
"There were lots of hairy moments. We went diving into the depths of the ocean with sharks swimming about, we raced around circuits on dune buggies and went horse-riding on some very high ridges which were actually pretty scary."
Would you like to make more Straight Talking shows in the future and who would you love to have on?
"Absolutely, we’ve got a few more in the pipeline. I would love to have Idris Elba do it. People don’t really know too much about him, he’s got his image of this classic kind of English gentlemen. I’d love to take him to the Arctic."
You do a lot of filming abroad for your shows. You must miss your family a lot?
"Of course, that’s one of the sacrifices you make. People talk about success but success often comes with sacrifice, and for me that means time away from my family but it’s all for a greater cause, the bigger picture, to give my children and family the best life possible. That’s what drives me."
And what kind of dad do you think you are?
"Fun-loving! People may think that I’m a right disciplinarian but I'm actually the complete opposite. Don’t get me wrong, we have structure in our lives. I’m always up early with the children and I always make sure that the school run is positive, because that can be a stressful time. It’s very important to me we all start the day in a positive light because it affects the way you think throughout the rest of the day. I think I can be annoyingly positive in the morning sometimes. The children are like, ‘Oh dad, shut up!’"
Have you instilled in them that sense of adventure? Of trying new things and inspiring confidence?
"Yeah absolutely. We’re a very active family, we’re out and about a lot.There are fields out the back here, they go for walks, we take the dog out for long walks, things like that together. You name it, they do it. They’re very adventurous, but obviously there’s also an element of keeping them safe too, but I do let them push the boundaries."
You turned 40 last year? How did that feel?
"I think you mean 30! (laughing) No, you're right. I was away filming the UK SAS show, but I’m going to celebrate my 40th this year depending on what we're all allowed to do. I can turn 40 all over again. I’ll take full advantage of that."
What’s in the pipeline for 2021?
"I’ve got more books coming out, more TV, more SAS Australia and if the situation allows I’m going to head out to the States later in the year too. I'm also doing a UK tour at the end of 2021. I’m trying to find some gaps so I can relax."
What did you take away from the whole Mexico experience with Rebel?
"Confirmation on being honest. Rebel was so honest with me and honesty is the best policy. Sometimes when I write my books I think ‘Arrgh…shall I put that in?’ and then I think, ‘Yes. Always be real, say what’s on your mind so long as you don’t mean to offend or you’re not directing it in a malicious way.' Rebel was so open and I was surprised by just how honest she was. She really gave me inspiration. We all get things wrong in life, but so long as we can acknowledge that, suck it up and move on it all helps to build success."
Ant Middleton & Rebel Wilson: Straight Talking will air on 14th January at 9pm on Sky One and streaming service NOW TV
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Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.