'Legends of the Hidden Temple' Host Talks Movie Adaptation, Show Secrets and Why He Isn't on Twitter (Yet)

“It’s the game show in the vein of a real-life adventure,” Kirk Fogg says.
Mathieu Young/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon is bringing back the 1990s with a new TV movie based on its classic game show Legends of the Hidden Temple.

In the movie, contestants must traverse foggy swamps, assemble idols and avoid nefarious temple guards to gain a reward. The host of the '90s show, Kirk Fogg, will return to the franchise as an actor in the movie.

THR recently sat down with Fogg to explore the transformation of game show to movie, the audience the movie is aimed for and his feelings on a show reboot.

I’m a huge fan. I grew up watching this like no one’s business.
Oh really?

It’s crazy it was three seasons because for me it felt like it ran all the time.
It ran for 10 years after that, yeah!

For my generation the show is a staple, so a movie seems brilliant. I was wondering what it’s like returning to the franchise that was a huge part of your career?
It’s so weird because I hadn’t even thought of it being a movie. So when they came and said they were interested in doing a movie of the week for Legends of the Hidden Temple, I thought, “That’s a good idea!” You always thought it was going to be the game show to come back. The blogs would all say to bring back the game show. But I thought the movie was a good idea so I asked them to send me the script. It was someone like you, a fan of the show, who wrote the script so I was excited to see they got it. Everyone is into it, which is good. Joe, the director, he’s all about it. I think they’re on the right path or journey.

Journey seems to be the operative word.
Exactly! We have to use the word journey a lot [laughs].

The game show was in the adventure genre, so will the movie follow suit?
It’s an adventure game. It’s the game show in the vein of the real-life adventure. It’s the same elements from the show but translated into a real-life adventure for a narrative.

As a kid, whenever a contestant had to do the last challenge and the temple guards would grab them it was terrifying. Are there going to be any of those horror genre elements to the movie?
Correct. Absolutely the temple guards are a big part of this movie. It makes sense, right? The temple guards were a great part of that show. I thought about this the other day, but the kids would actually scream. Kids, when they’re in there, are focused trying to get through each room. When you’re trying to concentrate on one thing, like trying to put the shrine of the silver monkey together, and then all of the sudden this guy runs out to grab them they would scream out loud. Here’s a secret. They added extra screams in post to add that extra scare for the viewer.

Well it worked because it would terrify me.
They knew that!

Other elements of the show are going to be in the movie like Olmec and the shrine of the silver monkey, correct?
Think of it as being the whole temple run in a movie.

Can you talk about your process with writing, directing and acting in Distortion?
It was a funny movie because I flip houses. That’s what I do on the side. During one of the flips I thought, “Hey! I’ll make a movie!”

Why not? [laughs]
Right! Sure way to lose your money putting it into a movie. I decided to make this psychological thriller called Distortion and you know how everyone wants to get into Sundance? My movie happened to be one of the first to apply for admission and I thought, “Great, let’s do it.” I didn’t get in, but about a month later a person from Sundance called and said they wanted to talk to me. I thought, “Yeah, I think so.”

Right, if you have the time.
Right! The person said they really wanted my movie in Sundance but they only had four spots to fill. They were very complementary, which I appreciated, and said that it would probably get picked up by another festival. I thought, “This is great news! I’ll be able to get the movie into a bunch of film festivals!” It didn’t. I have a friend who’s an editor for Fox Searchlight who said he would re-edit and re-cut the movie with a hot trailer and then it got sold after that!

You did what you had to do.
That’s right.

It seems like the generation that grew up with Legends of the Hidden Temple would love to talk with you. Do you have a Twitter?
I don’t. I have Instagram but I’m sort of challenged when it comes to social media. I’m still trying to get certified on Instagram but Nickelodeon said it’s quite the process.

You need to get a Twitter.
I have to get a Twitter and I will. I really need to be speaking as me and not let some crazy, insane person speak for me. 

I noticed the supposed account for you just retweets fan comments.
You know what, looking at them they’re all fans of it and not psychotic. They’re not saying, “Oh I’m Kirk Fogg and a murderer!”

Well that’s a relief. As a host, there’s acting involved in your job, but with this movie you’re returning as a full-time actor. What’s it like approaching the character that way?
I have to do what I do. I’m acting. It is me but I have to do the same prep and work. Luckily, I’m a trained actor from New York. It can be tricky though because people can think, “Oh he’s just host Kirk Fogg,” but there’s more to me than that.

How do you think the audience for this movie will skew? Do you think it will be mostly people that grew up with the show or do you believe this will capture a new audience?
I think the original viewers are in the 25-to-35 age ranges so there might be those in that group that will watch. Hopefully, they’ll have kids of their own now and will show it to them. Then, there will be the period of kids that have never seen it and will come to the movie with a fresh perspective. My thought is that they’re going to re-run the show.

If they brought the game show back for a new season, would you do it?
I think it would be a smash hit. You could do a family version and bring a whole group on where you send one kid into the temple.

Pick your child?
[laughs] Exactly. I don’t know, but I think people have been dying for the show to come back. All of that content from that time period has had a huge resurgence and I can only see more of that type of content coming back. This whole thing has been a journey. I think a lot of the hosts from Nickelodeon shows of that time feel separated from the audience now and want to be a part of their lives. It would be great to see that build back up.

The movie is set to air in the fall on Nickelodeon.