Bob & Mack Woodruff on Teaming Up for Nat Geo’s ‘Rogue Trip’
Everyone is itching for a getaway, and National Geographic’s filling the void with its latest series Rogue Trip featuring ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff and his photographer son Mack.
The men venture out to areas not often seen in a complimentary light as they hope to change peoples’ perspectives about six different regions typically known for conflict. On the itinerary are adventures in Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Lebanon and the Ukraine.
Streaming on Disney+ beginning Friday, July 24, Rogue Trip also highlights the camaraderie between father and son, who certainly know what it means to live life to the fullest. As some viewers may recall, Bob suffered from severe injuries following a roadside bombing attack in Iraq during his time as a war correspondent in 2006.
In an effort to keep his kids from growing fearful following the 2006 incident, Bob fostered an adventurous attitude in them, which would explain Mack’s willingness to explore the forests of Papua New Guinea in the dead of night or ride horses barefoot in Colombia for Rogue Trip.
“We wanted to show people that these countries they’ve seen on the news, that they’re not exactly the way they seem to be,” Bob explains. “I covered wars and crisis and environmental collapses, and there’s part of those countries that were never part of the stories.”
“The word rogue is something that we thought a lot about on this trip,” Mack adds, musing about the show’s title. “All of these places have very different flavors and their rogueness had different definitions. [Some] places were rogue because of their locations, their history of warfare, their political history or some cultural practice that might be frowned upon by Western society.”
Some examples of those practices would include some Papua New Guinean’s recent shift away from cannibalism, which is discussed during Bob and Mack’s travel to the country. During their travels, the men learn a lot about the locations as well as each other.
“Mack learned when I ask questions, people are not as irritated as he always thinks they are,” jokes Bob, who rarely turns his journalistic hunger for answers off.
“I always assumed that it’s annoying to be pestered with questions because growing up, I was always annoyed, but that maybe had more to do with being his son,” Mack counters before adding, “I had watched my dad a lot on TV, but I had never seen what goes into a production like what he’s been making for over 20 years. So to be on the other side of that for this long adventure was incredible.”
Even with Bob’s hefty resume, Mack points out that he’s never seen his father do half the things they’ve done on Rogue Trip. “You had never really done anything like this,” Mack elaborates. “You’ve been to three of the six countries, but never were you going horseback riding or scuba diving or hunting for alligators and crocodiles. These aren’t the typical experiences that [you have when reporting].”
That’s half the fun of this immersive show which really scratches that travel itch for those who have been stuck indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s time to experience alongside of us,”Mack says. “I think this show does a really good job of bringing the viewer along for the journey. It’s both a journalistic and a educational take on these places with a massive dose of human experience.”
Among some of the season’s unreal experiences that Bob and Mack have are feeding hyenas in Ethiopia, cliff jumping in Lebanon and visiting Chernobyl in the Ukraine. For that leg of the trip, Bob’s daughter and Mac’s sister Cathryn joins in on the tour of “the control room of reactor four, which is where the initial explosion went off,” Bob explains. “The whole power plant looks exactly like it did the day that it exploded because there’s nobody to fix it up.”
“It’s still a functioning place,” adds Mack, who discovered, “There’s hundreds of people that work there every day, which I was shocked to see.”
“It’s realistic,” Bob says of the depictions people will see onscreen. “There’s still major problems in all countries. There [are issues] that still exist.” Rogue Trip explores this in a informative and though-provoking way through the eyes of this family duo.
“My dad almost died in 2006 and just to be able to spend any time with him is a blessing. And then to be able to work with him, travel to all these countries and see him in his element was such an amazing opportunity for me,” Mack says of the experience.
“You have this image of your son sort of locked in when he was four years old. But I had the chance to see parts of Mack that I didn’t even really know about completely,” Bob says of his son. “He’s an artist and a talented storyteller. I see what a necessary partner he is to me. There’s certain things that I lost in terms of storytelling or wording when I was hit by that bomb. Mack has got that buried in him. He can tell the story and capture the facts and words, in some ways, better than I can now.”
Summing up this father and son’s experience in words is nearly impossible, but Rogue Trip makes it fun for the whole family. Don’t miss the action when the National Geographic series launches this summer on Disney+, and check out an exclusive clip from the series above.
Rogue Trip, Series Premiere, Friday, July 24, Disney+