By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
It may well be due to the fact Nat Geo is now owned by Disney, but whatever the reason, the channel dedicated to science and exploration has certainly attracted a lot of A-listers to partner on their programs. Past documentaries have featured a star-studded line-up of narrators, including Angela Bassett for QUEENS, an upcoming series on matriarchies in the natural world, fellow Marvel Avengers alumni Jeremy Renner for INCREDIBLE ANIMAL JOURNEYS, and Awkwafina (star of Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings and Raya and the Last Dragon for A REAL BUG’S LIFE. (Editor’s note: Seems like a missed opportunity not to have Antman narrating A Real Bug’s Life, just sayin’!)
From executive producer and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large James Cameron, the three-part docu-series follows the success of the Emmy-winning SECRETS OF THE WHALES, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, and most recently Emmy-nominated and Critics Choice Documentary Award-winning SECRETS OF THE ELEPHANTS, narrated by Natalie Portman. Like previous installments, SECRETS OF THE OCTOPUS will premiere in celebration of Earth Day on April 21, and streaming next day on Hulu and Disney+.
The producers say this latest series with Paul Rudd is among the most fascinating they’ve produced, adding that octopi are “like aliens on earth.” They have three hearts, blue blood, and the ability to squeeze through a space the size of their eyeball. Highly intelligent, octopi (or octopuses) can use tools, transform their bodies to mimic other animals and even communicate with different species, including humans.
“It’s been an incredible journey learning about these mysterious creatures and their interconnected lives. I can’t imagine audiences won’t be as blown away with the secret lives of octopuses as I was working on this series,” said Rudd, who is also known to squeeze through a space the size of an eyeball. “If you’re going to dive deep into natural history, you have to do it with National Geographic. I’m thrilled to be working with James Cameron and the Nat Geo team to deepen our connection with the ocean and all of its creatures and curiosities.”
Tom McDonald, executive vice president of Global Factual and Unscripted Content at National Geographic, says the mini-series will take viewers into an almost unimaginable world, featuring a creature that is among the most intelligent and fascinating in the known universe, and yet is still not well understood.
“SECRETS OF THE OCTOPUS immersively takes the audience into the lives of one of the world’s most intelligent and mysterious creatures and features behavior never before captured on film,” said McDonald. “It’s a joyful, illuminating series narrated by Paul Rudd with real warmth and humanity.”
Rudd comes to the series after his starring guest role in the third season of Only Murders in the Building, and is nominated for a 2024 SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Comedy Series.” He will next star in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire which will be released by Sony Pictures on March 22, followed by A24’s Death of a Unicorn. He is currently in production on Andrew DeYoung’s Friendship and will next begin production on Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ The Invite opposite Amy Adams.
To coincide with the premiere of SECRETS OF THE OCTOPUS, the May issue of National Geographic’s flagship magazine will also explore the series with a closer look into the latest findings about octopus behavior, cognition and social dynamics. Photographed by the iconic David Liittschwager, the visually stunning feature also dives into the challenges of ethical octopus research and shines a light on the fact that the U.S. Animal Welfare Act does not protect the species.
In fact, the octopus is heavily fished and served as a seafood dish around the world to the extent the survival of various sub-species is now under pressure in many parts of the world.
SECRETS OF THE OCTOPUS is produced by Earthship, SeaLight Pictures and Wildstar Films. For Earthship, Emmy Award-winners James Cameron and Maria Wilhelm are executive producers.