Will Smith puts his fears to the test in TV nature series

Will Smith rappelled into a live volcano and kayaked down an Icelandic whitewater river for his latest project. But he wasn’t making an action movie. It was personal.

Smith, a Hollywood leading man who admits that he’s far from outdoorsy, has put himself in danger’s way while filming “Welcome to Earth,” a kinetic Disney+ original series from National Geographic. He was intimidated, but that brought clarity.

“It’s really difficult to enjoy things if you’re scared,” he says. “I think the ability to see how beautiful things are is directly connected to your openness to it and fear closes you down.”

The six-part series that debuts Wednesday finds the “I Am Legend” star donning scuba gear to dive in an underground lake, crossing a raging, crocodile-infested river on a rope and sitting still in the stifling Namibia desert to capture a lizard eating a bug.

Throughout is Smith’s authenticity, sweetness and humor. “Damn, that’s a crunchy bug,” he says at one point when the lizard strikes. After making a difficult crossing that surprises even him, he notes: “In a movie, my stunt man would have did that.”

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