Wipeout! The summer splash is back. Its host, Jill Wagner, calls from the crazy course as the new season of the reality television hit revs up.
Wipeout has been seared into the minds of Americans. The promotional commercials on ABC are impossible to miss. You know the reality competition: The one in which human beings navigate a course of larger-than-life “bouncy” obstacles to avoid the Wipeout of hitting the water hard. In summer 2008, Wipeout captured audiences’ fancy for its ability to make contestants into both inspiration and fodder for physical comedy.
Wipeout’s host, Wagner, is in her second year of this, her first-ever hosting gig. Trained as an actress, Wagner has stolen scenes for her titular co-star in the Blade television series in addition to her turns on Stargate: Atlantis, Monk and Bones.
Get ready to get wet! Jill Wagner and Wipeout are set to send summer splashing on its head.
SheKnows: Wipeout took audiences by storm last summer. What is up for the new summer season on ABC?
Jill Wagner: When we started the new season, I couldn’t wait to see the obstacles. Last year, they were crazy. The big balls — I mean, have you ever done anything like that before in your life? This year, they have a human catapult.
What in the world? Who thinks this stuff up? My favorite part of the job is that I get to go down on the field with these people. They have personalities that go for days. They’re really cool, and it’s great to interact with them. It’s surprising when I meet the 64-year-old man about whom I’m thinking, “He’s probably not going to go that far.” I’m sorry, but I thought that at first. You know what? The 64-year-old man makes it to the final four. It’s really nice for someone to accomplish that and stir up the pot a little bit.
SheKnows: What are your thoughts on physical comedy? America loves it. I know this is a serious competition, but there’s nothing funnier than people being flopped about.
Jill Wagner: Some of the people who come on the show… they’ll talk to me in the interview and say, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this.” I’m just doing this on a dare. Those are the people who don’t make it to the end. But, they have a good time. They laugh at themselves. I try not to laugh at them, but of course, as you see on TV, it just comes out. This is my first hosting job. When I first started, I was trying to be serious and professional. I noticed the only things they would put on there were from the blooper reel. It’s when I’m laughing and I think they’ll never use that. But that’s what they wind up using.
SheKnows: What’s the scene on the field of competition?
Jill Wagner: It’s really just a good time, like a big party. We do laugh at people. We’re certainly laughing with them a lot because everybody’s such a good sport.
SheKnows: You mentioned this is your first foray into hosting. Coming from your background in acting and having that great screen presence in general, what did you find challenging when you tackled the job of hosting? And what surprised you?
Jill Wagner: First, I was nervous. I was thinking, “I can’t do this. There are no lines!” There’s no teleprompter when I’m down there on the field. I’m just kind of talking to people. I think that one of my best qualities is that I [am] very down to earth. I am like the people who go on this show. I would probably have gone on this show. I’m from the south — a normal girl who has been used to talking her way through everything. Through tickets, papers, grades… I consider myself a very easy person to talk to, so that was what I was hoping would come through on-screen, but I wasn’t sure. I was nervous about the whole hosting thing.
SheKnows: Do you have to watch what you say?
Jill Wagner: We’re not censored, so that happens to be a problem with me. They have to edit a lot of what I say!
I have no idea what to expect this year. At one point in the game, I break-dance with one of the contestants. At another, I act out a scene with a contestant. I just go there this season.
SheKnows: Wipeout seems ripe for a host who can simply roll with it.
Jill Wagner: It’s funny: I consider these people my next-door neighbors. I’m just talking to them. It helps because they have these bright, big personalities. Many times, I don’t have to say anything; they do just roll with it.
SheKnows: One of SheKnows’ founders and executive editor is a huge fan of Stargate. Was that as exciting as i
Jill Wagner: Oh, God, yeah! My acting partner is Jason Momoa, who played Ronon on Stargate: Atlantis. He was telling me about this character, Larrin, and how she was all badass. I thought that was perfect, that I needed to come in and audition for that. Their whole deal is so great. You go up to Vancouver, and it’s like a machine. That show is not on now obviously, but they really are like a family. They have a thing on the show called The Wraith. They’re these huge monster aliens. I had to fight one. It’s really kind of freaky when you get on the set and it’s dark and nobody’s around. You have to fight this (huge) thing coming through the door at you. They’re horrible. I really got scared. My adrenaline got going, and I forgot my fight sequence. I was tearing him up. “Jill, this is not part of the fight,” he said. I’m like, “I know. I know. I’m scared!”
SheKnows: That is as real as it gets.
Jill Wagner: Yes! I don’t like aliens. But, yeah, it was fun. That’s what I love, the action stuff. In a film, that’s the route I want to go — something with fast cars and guns. I’m such a boy!
SheKnows: The series Blade also involves quite a few fight sequences, I would think…
Jill Wagner: I got to work with world-champion kickboxers. These guys were badass. I learned a lot. It’s a blast when you’re a girl and not necessarily taught that stuff when you’re growing up. My dad certainly tried.
SheKnows: Will you ever tackle the course on Wipeout?
Jill Wagner: Never!
SheKnows: Even if no one’s looking?
Jill Wagner: Here’s the thing: There may be a time when I actually do attempt it. I would want it filmed because I would want people to see how I did. I think I would do pretty well!