Eli Roth is a brave, brave man. To prep for his gig hosting Discovery's Shark Week After Dark during the network's annual Shark Week programming block, the horror filmmaker dove deep in the Bahamas water to swim with reef sharks. And no, he didn't just draw the short straw — he wanted to take the plunge. "I was so excited!" Roth told HuffPost Live in an interview on Wednesday, July 1. "I'm a huge Shark Week geek."
A seasoned scuba diver, Roth, 43, joined shark experts and enthusiasts for the dive, which he said gave him a new appreciation for the creatures. "It was my first time diving with sharks and I found them to be such gentle creatures. Much more like puppies. I fed them by hand," Roth said. "Movies give sharks a bad name, so I took this as an opportunity to really talk to experts and find out why shark attacks are happening and how we can keep sharks safe."
During his underwater encounter, Roth felt right at home — literally! "When I went diving, there's a moment where if you scratch the reef sharks under the nose, they go into this state called tonic. I have a French bulldog and it reminded me of when I feed my puppy," he recalled. "The sharks go after fish that are sick and dying, so when you get in the water with flippers flapping, the sharks have no interest. I really learned that if the sharks know you're not a dying fish or food, they think you're another fish in their ecosystem."
Shark Week isn't the only way Roth is indulging his passion for sharks. The filmmaker will soon direct a Warner Bros. film based on Steve Alten's novel "Meg," about a giant, prehistoric shark. Roth was able to bond with other "shark nerds" during his Discovery Channel hosting gig. "We have some really fun guests: Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, just awesome people," Roth hinted. Starting July 5, Roth will recap Shark Week highlights and preview upcoming programming in his nightly series, which airs at 11 p.m. ET through July 9. Shark Week begins on July 6.
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