At the ripe age of 58, Jesse “The Body” Ventura (or James George Janos, as his parents named him) has had quite the colorful life. The former biker and Navy SEAL entered the wrestling ring in the mid-70s and found fame in the WWF during the 80s. From there, he embarked on an acting career that included roles in films like Ricochet, The Running Man, and probably most notably Predator, the latter two alongside fellow governor-to-be Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Body then went on to run successful political campaigns, first for mayor, and then for Governor of Minnesota, and picked up surfing in the meantime. So what hasn’t Jesse Ventura done, exactly?
Well, for starters, he hasn’t hosted his own reality TV show. But even that’s about to change, as truTV gets set to launch Ventura’s latest endeavor, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, a show that strives to unravel some of the biggest conspiracy theories of our time. RT had the opportunity to chat with Ventura about his Five Favorite Films, his new show, and what conspiracies “got to” him.
Because they did great character buildup in it. By the time they got out and were battling the shark, you knew the three characters intimately. I think we lose that in a lot of our movies today — they’re so set in throwing the action at you as quick as they can. They don’t allow the character to develop to where you can feel for the character and I think Jaws did a marvelous, fantastic job with the three characters on the boat and the action – how they held the scene with the shark for as long as they did — the shocking moments of it.
I love Full Metal Jacket because Stanley Kubrick made the most authentic boot camp film I’ve ever seen. It is so right on — my wife is appalled while she watches it and I’m sitting in the chair laughing my guts out. Kubrick was willing to take that chance [on R.Lee Ermey]. He had originally hired Ermey to be a consultant, but he realized “Wait a minute; this guy did it for eight years, who could do it better than him?” That’s what gave it full credibility because Ermey is doing exactly what he did for eight years, and that is create Marine corp recruit boot camp kids. It’s so authentic, you love it! The way the whole film breaks down, it’s one of my favorites.
I have had a passion for it and I think Oliver Stone’s editing between now and then was done remarkably well. The film had great flow to it. He threw all the mud on the wall and he allowed you to sift your way through it and choose what you wanted to believe and what you didn’t. I thought the acting in it was just outstanding with the full array of all the characters. It’s a marvelous cast and done very accurately.
I’ll throw in my favorite documentary, which is Riding Giants. Any time it’s on, I stop what I’m doing and watch it because I’ve embraced the surfer lifestyle now. I’ve been in a 23 footer on Waimea and I was out there without a board. I had to and my wife thought I was crazy and my children were begging me not to go, but they were 23 feet that day on the North End. The Super Bowl was on and I didn’t care about the Super Bowl. I had to go out there when I got there just to do it. I’m an old frog man, you know?
Next, Ventura talks about the creation of his new TV show and what conspiracies got him spooked.
RT: So this is an interesting TV show you have coming up.
Jesse Ventura: It’s very interesting. Probably the biggest question I’m being asked is how did I get it made? It is interesting because we’re going to places that people don’t want you to go to apparently and certainly our government doesn’t because we offer them the opportunity on multiple occasions and multiple shows to participate and all we get is stonewalled. Then they wonder why conspiracy theories rise up? When you have an entity that won’t be truthful or forthcoming, it opens the gate to conspiracy. That’s what happens here and we simply tell the conspiracy side of the story and allow the viewer to decide whether they want to believe it or not. I will say this, you can choose not to believe any of the seven, but if you watch them and pay attention, they will scare you.
As a fan of conspiracy theories, I have to ask if there is one that really gets you.
JV: Surprisingly, the one we do on 2012. I’ll say that one was the surprise one that got to me. Then of course, my favorite is going to be 9/11 because that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about or ask any questions about. In our society now, you’re not allowed to ask any questions about 9/11 otherwise Geraldo, O’Reilly and them cast you as being an unpatriotic buffoon if you simply ask a question.
When I went through Navy Seal training, something O’Reilly, Hannity and all those guys would never dare to do, in the demolition portion, I had a Chief Warrant Officer that taught me that there is no dumb question. I think that’s a pretty good attitude to have when you’re working with demolition. So I’ve lived my life believing there is not a dumb question if you don’t know the answer to it. 9/11 is one of these where you’re not allowed to ask any questions and they think if you do, [the questions are] dumb. There is no dumb question. If I don’t understand it, it’s not dumb. I’m willing to take the heat for it. I’m willing to do that to get the questions out there.
Some would say that it’s interesting you’re going with a reality show after being Governor and having a successful film career. A lot of people might choose to go back into film.
JV: I’ll do that too if the right part comes around. I made a conscious decision when I moved to Mexico that this point in my lifetime is more important than money. I’m in a fortunate position where I can make that choice. Right now, time is more important than money. I’m going to do things that I want to do. One of them is my adventure in Mexico and the other is this show.
This show is out on the razor’s edge. It’s going to be controversial as hell and I’ll be able to retreat into the depths of the Baja surfing and never have to suffer any of the consequences. [laughs] I’m very much a good Navy Seal, we fight when it’s in our favor. [laughs] When it’s not, we go into hiding. I’m only doing what I was trained to do. [laughs] I hope everyone watches these shows and realizes how exciting they were to make. The topics are things that could affect all of us. Pay attention to them because if there’s any shred that they are the truth, they’re scary as hell. I got frightened doing a couple of these shows.
Which ones frightened you?
JV: 2012 did. It’s the Mayan calendar that goes beyond the Mayans. The Mayans were very smart in what they did and they knew a lot about the heavens and the universe. But there’s stuff we learned from NASA that says the Mayans are right on. You’re going to have to watch the show to find that what that is. If it’s true, we better be paying attention to it. When scientists are telling you it’s true, that becomes more than folklore. Also, the Manchurian Candidate mind-control one will blow your mind.
Did you go into any stories skeptically and you really got convinced otherwise?
JV: Global warming. I fully believed global warming and now I’m a skeptic because of the solution. The solution is Cap and Trade, and Cap and Trade is nothing but a shell game. It doesn’t solve the problem and that’s what leads me to believe that global warming is only for profiteering. Because why would they not do legislation that addresses the issue? With Cap and Trade, you can be a polluter and simply buy your way out of it and continue to pollute at the same level. How does that stop the global warming then? It only makes money for somebody. There is an old saying, “Don’t believe what people say, believe what they do.” When the solution is how to raise revenue, take it with a grain of salt.