EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Road Rivals Stars Russ Malkin and Charley Speed
Adventurer, film director and producer, Russ Malkin, and former VH1 Vogue Male Model of the Year and current editor of luxury magazine Lusso, Charley Speed, are two personalities as different as chalk and cheese. Together, they set out on an epic adventure spanning the continents to determine the greatest way to travel: adventure or luxury?
We spoke exclusively to the pair about travel, television and tremendously fun toys.
How did did the idea for Road Rivals come about?
C: It actually started as a series of films for Lusso’s online presence and we ended up with such great footage that we decided to make a full blown TV programme out of it.
During the show, what was your favourite place you visited?
R: It’s interesting because when I first met Charley we clicked straight away so when we were travelling, everywhere that we went was fun. I think a signature thing that stands out for me was those planes. That was just an unbelievable treat! I think from a biking point of view, the ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas – we just enjoyed it.
C: I’m going to be very boring and second Russ about the World War II planes because that was a once in a lifetime experience and it was the first time I’d ever controlled an aeroplane. [Also] Getting on a big motorcycle at the start of my trip was daunting and exciting in equal measure. That was a big thing for me and just persevering with it [because] the weather was appalling in Italy.
R: It had its moments! The worst challenge was the ride back from Italy, because we basically rode 650 miles in one day in pouring rain and really strong winds. But those are the moments you look back on with a bit of a smile.
C: Driving the NASCAR because being a bit of a racing fan made it a pretty special moment for me. It’s very different to pick a favourite experience because the whole programme was packed full of amazing experiences.
What about your least favourite moment or challenge?
C: I literally passed my motorcycle license just before we left for the trip and came close to not passing it. If I hadn’t passed it I would have put the whole filming in jeopardy. Russ off-roading was quite a hairy moment in the Rolls Royce.
R: I think for me probably the most challenging – I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it because I just like being on bikes but – doing 650 miles in one day when it’s raining pretty much all the way. I think the most embarrassing moment was we went to the rodeo in Dallas, and saw these cowboys coming out on broncos and wild horses and they said, “do you guys wanna have a go?” and we’re like “not really.” In the end they got us out in the arena with a calf. I thought, ‘oh my god, this is so embarrassing.’ They put a bit of gaffer tape on its back and said “right well go and get it.”
You’ve already recounted a couple of moments but I wondered what you funniest moment was filming the series?
C: The first night in Las Vegas was fairly epic. I paid the price the next day because we had to ride these really fast NASCAR cars, but the first night for me was pretty full on: a lot of it on camera!
R: When we did the ranch in Texas, we went out on this jeep at about 2 o’clock in the morning. There were three of us who climbed onto this jeep and we were just driving around this guy’s ranch and we found an old canoe, [so] Charley and I just paddled off. Oh, I’ll tell you what was funny. When we went drag racing near Palm Streams –
C: Where I beat you twice?
R: Where you beat me twice, yes. It was my car. Anyway, we had to come back the next day to go sea fishing so I said to everyone well let’s just stay in this motel. We were all starving as we’d left all our stuff at the hotel and the only way we were going to get anything to eat was through a McDonalds next door. I went into McDonalds and they said “you can’t order the food from inside the McDonalds, you have to go through the drive through” and I said “well I haven’t got a car” and they said “drive through, drive through!” So I walked round the corner and stood in line at the drive through with cars behind me and in front of me and I got to the pick up counter and they said “you can’t be in the drive through!” and the guy said “get out, get out!” and I said “well hang on, you’ve got my order, I can see it on the screen” and he was completely confused and gave me my order and I went back to the motel eating my chips and hamburger.
One of the things I did find funny was how competitive you can both be. What was the most competitive thing one of you did?
C: There’s a long list from Russ, thats for sure!
R: Is it terrible the way we come over?
C: Actually, when I think about it – before I caught my bucket, the fishing was quite competitive. Any bite or catch we would both jump to the rod and it was the first person there really.
R: They put the bucket on to catch me out – but when I took the rod, ‘cause Charley thought there was a fish on it, he was like, “no no no its mine, I don’t want you to have anything to do with this Russ,” and I was like “oh ok.”The competitive thing made it more exciting, because it was done in good humour. We were shooting the clays simultaneously and I’ve never seen that before. I think Charley was counting every time he took the top off a bottle as a separate point!
“Trying not to throw up in the aeroplane was challenging for me! Dan the producer told me afterwards that he tried to make me be sick.” – Charley
What challenges did you find the hardest?
C: I suppose trying not to throw up in the aeroplane was challenging for me! Dan the producer told me afterwards that he tried to make me be sick.
R: Those jet boots –
C: They were great fun!
R: They were great fun but not when you fell off from the top.
C: [The guy who controls the jet boots is] in control of the throttle all the time, but while you’re on top of it he has to judge whether you’re going to fall or not and then he puts on the gas.
R: So when you get to the top of that jet, he tried to anticipate you falling. One time when I was struggling to stay up he stayed with it and I did fall and I fell on my head.
Did you guys learn to appreciate each others philosophies about travel?
C: I did for sure. Absolutely. Russ has got so much experience, with such a vast range of adventures and travel and different ways of doing it. For me it was a genuine eye opener and I have to really appreciate the more adventurous side, because without that you don’t appreciate the luxurious side.
R: I did. Charley does stuff with a certain style, and it’s nice to dip into that world. Like the big boat that we had which I can’t remember the name of –
C: The Reeva
R: Yeah, it was like wow, that is how the other half live. It was a little bit of exposure to that world.
I think riding horses is more dangerous [than riding motorcycles], because you’re up in the air on something that has a mind of its own. – Russ
Question for Russ. How is working with Charley different to working with Ewan McGregor?
R: I think that Ewan has a passion for bikes and has a passion for adventure but if I can be honest with you, the differences are not greater than the similarities. They’ve both got a good sense of humour. I think that comes with people who ride bikes.
C: There is a lot of camaraderie out of being motorcyclists on the road funnily enough because you are more vulnerable. Bikers in the UK see a biker fall over on the side of the road and nine times out of ten will pull over to make sure that they’re okay.
R: I think some people do see motorcycling as dangerous. There’s no doubt there is a dangerous side to them, but I think riding horses is more dangerous, you’re up in the air on something thats got a mind of its own. I think if anything came from the series where we could have inspired people to go off and have their own adventure, maybe learn how to ride a bike, do it safely, do it well but allow themselves to have that sense to get out of the comfort zone and have an adventure. If that’s what people do it’ll be great!
[On the next series] “I was thinking we could split up. I thought I could go to Asia and Charley could do Croydon. – Russ
Would you guys do a second series?
R: [jokingly] Not a chance, no.
C: I’m well up for a second series, ‘cause Russ needs a good beating.
R: Next time there will be an official scorer!
C: That’s fine with me.
If you did do a second series, where would you like to visit?
R: I think we were leaning towards two areas, one was East Asia like Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia – that neck of the woods. I think it would be amazing.
C: The second is South America. What’s so wonderful is that if we do another series, the possibilities are pretty much limitless as to what we can do.
R: I was thinking we could split up. I thought I could go to Asia and Charley could do Croydon. [After a pause] Not that theres anything wrong with Croydon!
C: Too late!
Why do you think people should watch Road Rivals?
C: I think there’s the sense of living vicariously through us, [the viewers] get to adventure, they get to travel across the world and they also get to see some fantastic toys. I think what’s quite nice about our series is we’re just normal people doing really incredible things and hopefully getting something from their reaction. And if it inspires them to get out there it’s fantastic.
R: Exactly. I just think that – I don’t know if I’m particularly religious but I don’t think God put us down here to be miserable. There’s a world out there to discover, it doesn’t have to be that expensive [and] it doesn’t have to be all beefed up. You have to do it your own way.
Road Rivals premieres at 9pm on the 10th August on Travel Channel Freeview 42, freesat 150, Sky 249, Virgin292.