It's time for everything you think you know about the original Fear Factor to get out the way, because Ludacris is officially taking over. The actor and rap star is the host of MTV's reboot of the popular competition series, and he didn't want to just do a carbon copy of the original. Instead, he wants to bring the cult classic to a new generation, and that means changing up the actual challenges to attract millennials.
On the set of one of Fear Factor's stunts in Burbank, Calif., Ludacris watched from below as competitors tried to balance on a moving, swinging platform hanging on a crane and grab as many flags as possible while their cell phones dangled from the edge. If the platform moved too much in any direction or if they fell off, their phones would plunge to the ground and shatter, ending their time.
After watching two pairs go head-to-head in the challenge and crowning a winner, an amped up Ludacris sat down with Bustle and a small group of reporters to discuss his new, revamped series and how it will be different for a new audience of viewers.
"It still has the DNA of the original Fear Factor but technology has changed over time so we're just trying to give it a new face and a new energy," he says as the crew began to take down the temporary set. "When you incorporate cell phones, that is people's biggest fears these days, losing their cell phones. You got to look at it from that perspective. And that's why it's new, because it's a new day and age and technology has evolved since [the original]."
He continues, "We're trying to incorporate the newest technology along with what this generation is afraid of together in order to make a new and exciting show. We're just taking it to another level." And with a laugh, he adds, "It's fast and furious."
The new Fear Factor (premiering Tuesday, May 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV) is filled with new stunts inspired by urban legends, popular scary movies and viral videos from today’s cultural zeitgeist. Contestants will confront their fears, be pushed beyond their comfort zones and take action against some of their biggest stressors for the chance to win $50,000.
As host of the new series, Ludacris has a hand in adding what he calls "a Ludacris element to it."
"If they have to eat something crazy or drink something crazy, I'm there with like a glass of wine," he says with a laugh. "I'm drinking my wine and throwing it in their face while they have to do the exact opposite. I enjoy doing stuff like that because they're the ones who chose to be here."
While the original Fear Factor ran into some controversy when competitors were forced to chug vials of donkey semen and urine (and that episode was banned once the scandal hit headlines), Ludacris promises this time around all eating and drinking challenges will be much more regulated and safe.
"We have things like [eating and drinking] but I think that they're a little more careful about what it is that they're drinking and that it's actual foods and certain drinks," he says. "They just are the worst of those particular foods and drinks in terms of the human palate and our sense of smell."
Ludacris counts himself as a major fan of the original version of Fear Factor, which ran off and on from 2001-2012 on NBC.
"That's part of the reason I'm here," he says with a smile. "When they said they were going to reboot it, I was like, 'Man, I would love to be a part of that.' [When watching the original], never, never, never envisioned that I would be a part of it because that's not something I was remotely thinking about [back then]."
Even though his duties are only as host, he's dying to get the chance to try some of the stunts on the show for himself.
"I would definitely do the stunts," he says. "I'm an adrenaline junkie so I want to get as close to the action and would love to do it myself. When it comes to the eating part and drinking nasty things, that's the only part I don't like about this stuff. But as host, I get to watch people do it firsthand, so it's entertaining to see what people would do for $50,000."
As for what he would do for that kind of prize money, he laughs and replies, "What would I do for $50,000? I would do something like that [stunt]. I would do that for free. That just seems like fun right there."
What's fun for Ludacris is the competitors' biggest fears, but no matter what, it's going to be entertaining to watch ... from the comfort of your own couch, eating real food and drinking wine instead of whatever gross dishes the producers have cooked up.