'I'd be a big fan of it coming back'
It’s been over 20 years since the last journey through Legends of the Hidden Temple, but the beloved Nickelodeon game show is now back on the network with a TV movie and a new group of kids.
After breaking away from a dull tour at a reenactment park in the Mexican jungle, which happens to be home to a legendary temple, three siblings find themselves trying to navigate through familiar challenges and foes to make it out alive. Returning for the action-adventure are old favorites, like the silver snakes, Olmec, and host Kirk Fogg.
Ahead of Saturday night’s premiere, EW caught up with Fogg to discuss returning to the temple, his favorite team, and the possibility of the game show coming back.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get involved with coming back for the movie?
KIRK FOGG: It’s such a strange thing. I had actually been contacted by an online company that wanted to do a “Secrets of the Legends of the Hidden Temple,” and they wanted to shoot it outside the Egyptian Theatre (in Hollywood). I was like, “Oh, really? You want me to do that?” And they asked, “Can you wear your outfit?” I’m like, “Oh, really? I’ve got to do that?” My wife said, “Do it, you’ll like it.” I forgot how many people really loved the show, and all of a sudden it gets all these hits and randomly I get contacted that they are making a movie of the game show. And I was like, “What? How did that happen?” I said, “Well, I’m in.” I was a little bit nervous in the beginning — how do you make a movie out of a game show? They ended up sending me a script and I saw that the person who had written the script was totally into the show and they were hitting all those iconic moments in it and it was kind of funny and exciting. I said, “I think it’s going to work.”
How did it feel to be back in the temple, albeit a much different one, 20 years later?
First of all, you couldn’t explain how it felt. They sent me up to Canada and when I arrived, all these people were there and everybody was so psyched because the host was there. All this money and finally someone from the past, who was connected to the show was actually there, so they were super excited about that. And I was of course really excited. The next morning, we sat down with the producers and directors and we began talking like we hadn’t stopped since 1993. We were on the same page, they were hitting on all the right notes, and I was completely ready to be right back in it again. It was a very, very surreal situation. And then, when I saw the actual set, they kind of sprung it on me — I think maybe you saw it in one of the videos. That was no retake; that was the first time I had seen the set and I was like, “Oh my god, they’ve really done it. They’ve gone for it. These grown-ups have become children again.”
What can you say about how you factor into the movie?
Well, I’m the tour guide of this sort of lackluster park down in Mexico and why I’m there… I guess you’ll have to wait until you see the movie. But I’m leading a tour of this reenactment park. It’s built on the backdrop of this ancient temple, so I’m there doing the best I can to keep hope alive for the temple. I’m the biggest believer of all and then I run across another true believer.
What callbacks to the original series can we expect to see?
It’s got them all. From me hosting — that’s the biggest one right off the bat. [Laughs.] Olmec is bigger and badder than he’s ever been, the helmets, the whole game show time element is all back, your favorite games, the animals are back. What was your favorite team?
I felt like I never really had one. I liked to go in fresh for each episode and make a judgment based on their skills.
You might be the future host.
I’m sure you had to try and stay neutral.
I’ve been saying it’s the silver snakes, because I was always standing next to them at the opening moment and I always laughed because they were kind of the underdog team — a little bit sloppy, their hair was messed up, always had stains on their shirts. They were a little bit rag tag, so I always kind of liked them. But there were a lot of great teams, I guess the orange iguanas were the biggest winners out of all of them.
Why should fans of the show tune in for the movie?
The original fans of the show are going to like this because it’s like the game show. You’re going to have the exact same feeling when you see the kids in the temple. When I met the kids — Isabela [Moner], Colin [Critchley], and Jet [Jurgensmeyer] — they reminded me so much of the original kids who were in the show. It’s like a reenactment of the game show, but now it’s a high-stakes adventure under a time clock, which is from the show. I watched the movie, and even though I knew everything that was going on, I was surprised throughout the movie and I was along for the adventure. You’ll feel like you did when you were watching the temple run. And if you’re a kid and you haven’t seen the show, then it’s like this really cool high-adventure, sort of how you felt when you were watching the game show originally. You were like, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” and I think kids are going to have the same feeling when they watch this show. This is different. I’ve never seen this before. This is definitely a complete departure for Nickelodeon. They’ve never done anything quite like this.
We’ve gotten a movie, so now is there any chance we could get the show to return in its original form?
That’s such a weird thing. I could never speak for Nickelodeon because I’m not up at the top making those decisions, but based on all the stuff I’ve seen on the feeds and comments on Facebook or Instagram, it seems like it begs for the show to come back. I think it would grab a lot of fans from that generation and new kids would be totally latched on to it, too. You could almost combine the two maybe, even do it as a family if you wanted to. The first thing they need to do is have a reunion, have all the kids from that generation who didn’t make it through the temple and have them give it another shot. So I’d be a big fan of it coming back, but like I said, I don’t make those decisions.
Why do you think the show resonated with so many kids back then?
It was a different show, but it resonated because there was nothing like that kind of show on TV and it was a complicated, big production show. What I think really captured everybody’s imagination was that any kid watching felt like they could do the show. You didn’t have to be super stud to do it. You had to be this weird combination of brains and brawn, so if you didn’t have brawn, your partner could have had it and they could do some of the challenges that you couldn’t do. And honestly, when I would start a show, I would make a prediction on who I thought was going to make it to the temple and I was mostly wrong. I loved that. You can’t really figure out how it’s all going to work out.
I definitely felt like I could win.
I went to San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con and it was the same thing. The first thing people said was, “I could have done it. I could have put that silver monkey together.” I said, “Yeah, maybe. But you didn’t have a time clock on, you weren’t completely out of gas, and you had to remember how all of those pieces fit together.” I use to run the temple every year because I wanted to see if I could get through and open those rooms.
How did you do?
Good. I always made it through. C’mon, I’m the host. I used to be a football player and a wrestler, but I was so out of gas by the time I’d get back to the finish line.
Your own kids probably wouldn’t mind taking on the temple.
When I first showed my youngest the show — he was 5-years-old — he didn’t say much. I wondered if he’d liked it; he’s a processor. Finally, he turned to me and said, “I can be on that show, right?” I said, “Oh, that show’s not on anymore.” He said, “Yeah, but I can still be on the show?” So he was already angling to get on there.
Legends of the Hidden Temple airs Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.