After spending the past decade wrestling crocodiles and dodging venomous snakes as the host of Animal Planet's The Crocodile Hunter, 40-year-old Steve Irwin, a native of Queensland, Australia, makes his film debut on July 12 in The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.
SI: Is crocodile hunting a sport?
Irwin: Absolutely not. Crocodile hunting is poaching, highly illegal, and anyone that shoots a crocodile will spend a long time behind bars. Crocodile poachers are the archenemy of Steve Irwin.
SI: In 2000 you were named one of PEOPLE magazine's Sexiest Men. Has anyone suggested that your selection was a crock?
Irwin: Yeah, all my mates in Australia. If you get up close to me, I'm certainly not a sexy bloke. The only way I get away with being on the big screen is with a crocodile in front of me.
SI: Have you ever met a crocodile that liked you?
Irwin: Never. They all hate me. I rescue them and they hate me for it. But I guess that's nature's way.
SI: Who among today's athletes would be great at rescuing crocs?
Irwin: Marion Jones. She's fast, and she's got attitude, heart and speed.
SI: What's your response to those who say you put a higher value on entertainment than on education and conservation?
Irwin: They've got their heads jammed in a box of sand, mate. For the first time in history here's two people [his wife, Terri, works alongside him] who stand up for wildlife and put their money where their mouth is and just promote conservation. They need to get a grip.
SI: Your show appeared before the other so-called reality shows. Aren't Survivor and Fear Factor for wimps?
Irwin: Absolutely, mate. You can drop me in the Congo Basin or in the Sahara Desert, and I'd be fine. They wouldn't stand a chance.
SI: Which is the more deadly species: Crocs or Hollywood studio executives?
Irwin: I've only just run into Hollywood executives, and—by crikey!—some of those are venomous. At least with a croc, you know if you go near, the water, the croc will strike you fast. These land sharks in Hollywood, you don't know who they are. They're camouflaged in black Armani suits.