To say that Mykel Hawke is an interesting guy would be quite the understatement. The retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer has not only created and starred in a number of his own reality TV shows about survival, but he has also authored countless books on the subject. Did I mention that he also knows seven languages?
In addition, Hawke has been a survival advisor on several TV shows, including The Bachelor, The Frontiersmen, and Netflix’s Daybreak, where he got to teach Ferris Bueller himself how to fight off zombies.
Where I remember him most is from the popular Discovery Channel show Man, Woman, Wild where he and his wife, Ruth, established themselves in certain unique survival situations each episode. My favorite line from the intro of that show was always: “There’s no field manual for surviving with a spouse.”
My wife and I enjoyed watching that show quite a bit, so you can imagine how stunned I was to find a message in my Facebook inbox from the “Man” himself.
After reading my article on my favorite survival TV shows a few months back, Hawke reached out to me to consider checking out an episode of Man, Woman, Wild where he and his wife survived in a city on the island of Monterrat. “That looks like some kind of post-nuclear nightmare,” Ruth says at the beginning of the episode, describing the damage from a volcano on the Caribbean island.
Of course I jumped at the chance to chat with Mykel a bit more. I wanted to know more about his opinions on the post-apocalyptic genre itself. What were his favorite fictional movies or TV shows that he hasn’t directly worked on?
“Ahh, man, I have a long list of fave survival movies,” he said. “Many are based on non-fiction, but the fiction one I like for realism — especially of the apocalyptic variety — is The Road. Hands down, one of the harshest films out there on the subject. I am a big fan of The Book of Eli as a fiction survival story. And of course the classic zombie genre faves are, in no particular order: I Am Legend, for the cool medical angle; Wyrmwood, for a personal connection with the flick’s cast; Zombieland, for just good fun; Evil Dead, [both] first flick and Ash vs Evil Dead… classics. And for apocalypse and vehicles: all the Mad Max series.”
Hey, now we’re talkin’! It sounds like Hawke really knows his stuff. And here I was worried that he’d only be into the serious survival stuff. No way!
So I turned the subject toward his work on Daybreak. The Netflix series is lighthearted and one could even say comedic, so I was curious about Hawke’s role in the film.
“Haha! That was good fun,” he replies. “I am about the same age as Matthew Broderick. We met in the gut truck right before the shoot; neither knew we were filming together, both were fans. So fun to train him right afterwards. That said, I taught them all the basics of survival in a day, but only a few minutes were shown on film.”
What about training actors to survive against zombies (or zombie-like creatures)? Was that a bit too silly for a serious survivalist?
“I have taught lotsa folks for the Z-Pox,” he said, “but I always remind them: Zombies are people too and need lovin’. So make sure to get clean kills!”
Hawke’s work with Netflix got me thinking: what if he’s being groomed for his own Netflix reality show? I can think of no one more appropriate for such a project, so I had to ask. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like it’s in the cards. “I really loved workin’ with the Netflix Team,” he told me. “They are awesome. We didn’t touch on the subject of a follow-on series, but that would be great fun and I’ve a keen interest in it!”
Moving on to his current projects, I noticed some recent news about an announcement for something called In Country. Hey Myke, what’s that all about?
“Good research! In Country is a film project with my good friend, brother, and fellow cinephile, Diablo Dean. He’s a film maker who’s already made a few fun films like Deet & Bax Save the World. In Country is about a private contractor good guy fightin’ bad guys and big corps. So, a bit of a heavy, action based flick.”
That sounds pretty amazing! Hawke’s previous work certainly speaks for itself, so I’m happy to hear that he is keeping so busy these days. Speaking of which, I had to ask about his favorite project so far.
“Too easy: Lost Survivors for the Travel Channel with my Wife, Ruth England,” he mused. “We love to do and teach survival, and this was the next evolution from our previous show, Man, Woman, Wild for Discovery. I created both shows, but Travel Channel gave us a lot more freedom and our crew was all hand-picked best-of-the-best. But my fave film work so far was Dirty Sanchez with the fellas from the UK TV Show with the same name.”
And finally, I couldn’t let Myke go without discussing the biggest topic of the year: the COVID-19 pandemic. We see an influx of interest for prepping and survival just in these last few months, so I wanted to see what Hawke thought of this. Did he have any good advice for those completely new to prepping? Of course he did!
“Well, the obvious first answers are supplies and training, but the less obvious and harder answer is: keep a sense of humor. Life is short; make it fun when and where you can. Don’t forget everyone else is going through it too and half the folks out there aren’t evil, just because someone else says so.
“But, when they come atcha’ like zombies, just remember Shaun of the Dead: Go to the pub, do what ya gotta do and remember: you may be playing video games with them when it’s all over!”
Big thanks goes out to Mykel Hawke for doing the interview. Check out his work on Man, Woman, Wild; Lost Survivors; and the dozens of other TV and film projects he’s been associated with. He’s the real deal, folks!