Episode 264 – Tory Belleci from Mythbusters and White Rabbit Project joined the Guardians for another ConCarolinas chat! We promise nothing exploded during this interview!
Tory Belleci is best known as the daredevil on MYTHBUSTERS,and can build just about anything. He returns in a new Netflix show WHITE RABBIT PROJECT. For years he has hosted Science Channel’s hit show PUNKIN CHUNKIN and has also starred on THRILL FACTOR for the Travel Channel. He’s appeared many times on The Rachael Ray Show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson as a science entertainer. He’s also appeared on Iron Chef and Hell’s Kitchen as a celebrity judge and can be seen blowing things up on his web series Blow It Up!
Find and watch Tory on the Interwebz!
Originally recorded 6/2/2019
Episode 264: Tory Belleci
Transcripts of the Episode
Starneslord: Tory Belleci, that’s right! Tory from MythBusters fame. Also the Star Wars connection. We’ll get into that in the podcast. This is episode 264 of Guardians of the Geekery recorded at ConCarolinas in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sorry, we’ve taken a little while to get this episode out. Our fearless leader, the Giddy Geeker had some major surgery, but we’re back to it and you’re really gonna want to listen to this episode. Tory was really fun, laid back and delivered the goods here, so listen and then let us know what you think.
Announcer: In the podcast room of the Geek Gala HQ there are assembled Charlotte, North Carolina’s four okay-est geeks created by the cosmic legends of their own mind. Starnes Lord, the Giddy Geeker, Carol the Cat. Tiffles Tennenbaum. Their mission to support local, to discuss all things geek and to serve all fan kind. They are the Guardians of the Geekery, the official podcast of the Charlotte Geeks.
Giddy Geeker: We have a very special guest. We have Tory here from so many places, but first they may know you from MythBusters, right?
Tory: Yes, MythBusters.
Giddy Geeker: You’ve done all the things like your bio is very long.
Tory: I, yeah, I kind of have like a, like that little geeky boy when I was a kid. It’s like the, the dream has come true. Like my, you know, my biggest dream was to work on Star Wars and…
Giddy Geeker: Oh my God, yes.
Tory: When that happened, it was like, it can’t get any better than this, but it did get better.
Giddy Geeker: My favorite MythBusters was when you guys redid the popcorn scene and you’re like, it’s with lasers. I’m like, okay, now Tory is my favorite. [Laughter]
Tory: I would, I would nerd out pretty hard on the show.
Giddy Geeker: Yes. As would we. So that’s the good thing. But you’ve got some exciting new stuff coming up as well, right?
Tory Belleci: Yeah. Uh, so Adam Savage has a new show on Science Channel called Building or Savage Builds. And so, uh, so he’d called me up to come and be on an episode. So it’s, it’s gonna be fun. We, it’s kind of a competition episode. We’re kind of battling each other and we’re building ridiculous, uh, weapons and contraptions. And it’s, it was like, it was really fun to work with the old crew and to, to be working with Adam again. It was a, it was a real, uh, fun experience.
Giddy Geeker: It’s your favorite thing to do. So there’s always going to be a series, right? I mean, like, it seems like Adam just is like, yeah, I got to do it again. I gotta do more. I gotta more builds.
Tory: Yeah. Yeah. He’s, he’s uh, I don’t know where he gets the energy, but uh, he does.
Giddy Geeker: And then you’re going to go in a little different direction with the guys from Jackass?
Tory: Yeah. So, um, so I have been talking to the creators of Jackass and we are developing a show idea for me, so I’m excited about that. I can’t really talk much about it because it’s, it’s not official yet.
Giddy Geeker: But you know this is an audio podcast?
Giddy Geeker: Podcast or can’t talk about that.
Starneslord: Do you get to blow shit up though?
Giddy Geeker: So what was your first build that you ever did as a kid? Tory: Oh my first build as a kid? Well, you know what’s crazy is my dad was very much of an artist and builder. And so in our garage we had like a full shop. We had a drill press, we had table saw and band saw. And so I had a really young age. He would let me work on the band saw and the table saw, which scared my parents. I remember when freaked my mom out cause… Giddy Geeker: But you have all ten fingers.
Tory: I’ll, they’re all mine. Yes. There’s no grafting here. Um, so yeah, so at a very young age I used to build like, I think I built like an electric guitar, but out of wood, like it was just a piece of crap. And you know, I like strung it with rubber bands.
Tory Belleci: So like ever since I was a little kid, I was building, you know, ridiculous things. But it paid off. Yeah. Not so ridiculous. Maybe we’ll it, cause I’m, my birthday is October 30th, so Halloween is a big deal for me. So I would basically tear up my parents’ front yard and turn it into a graveyard and a haunted house. And that was another place where I kind of, you know, learned skills on how to build. And you know, the other thing was like, oh, I want to do special effects makeup. So, you know, I did a lot of sculpting and molding in mask making. So, I guess it was just kind of something I always did, something I wanted to do for a career but wasn’t, I didn’t really know how it was going to happen and then it did.
Carol the Cat: Um, so how did you get involved with the MythBusters crew? Was that like an audition process or did you just go onsite and blow shit up?
Tory Belleci: We’ll so we, whoever does shit best gets the job. I blew up. Shit. Good.
Tory Belleci: The way it worked was, you know, I had, I had been friends with Jamie and Adam for years, because we’d all worked together and special effects. And so when discovery came up with this idea, um, it was an Australia production company that co-produced it with us with a discovery. They were like, we’re looking for people who can build anything. And who kind of have an understanding of science. And so Jamie and Adam, were chosen. And because I had worked with them for so many years, it was just kind of like, okay, we’re doing a job altogether. So they called me up and they’re like, hey, can you come in? We need to do a video test. We want you to come on the show and be a background builder. And I was like, yeah, I could do that. Sure. So I did like a little like funny video. It was, it was a mini myth. It was do women fart? And I think I have it online somewhere. And so I did this ridiculous stunt where I went to a Taqueria and put a hidden mic underneath the table.
Tory Belleci: And I think that that video kind of showed my sense of humor and they were like, you know, the people at Discovery were like, okay, we like this guy. Can you build can, you know, interact with the others? So that that’s kind of how, I mean it wasn’t really like an audition where you go in and there’s like 10 other people that look just like you. It was more of we were builders, we work together and it was like, hey come, come play.
Carol the Cat: Okay. You, you probably get this question all the time but I’m going to ask it. What was your favorite MythBusters episode or your favorite busted myth?
Tory: That is the first time anybody has ever asked me that question. [Laughter]
Carol the Cat: Nobody has ever asked you that.
Giddy Geeker: We ask the original questions here, this is journalism at its finest.
Tory Belleci: You know, I always go back to, it was the first time we were working with high explosives. It was the cement truck and you know, we had been, up until that point we were doing small myths and little things we were blowing up, but we didn’t really, like, it wasn’t our thing yet. Like we hadn’t figured out blowing stuff up does really well for TV. Uh, and so, you know, we were testing the myth that this guy had a cement truck, like concrete went off in his truck and he started using, instead of chipping it out with the jack hammer, he wanted to use dynamite and he used too much and he ended up blowing up his truck. So we like ramped up slowly and we got up to like 10 sticks of dynamite and still. Nothing was happening. I mean, the truck wasn’t being damaged. The concrete was, you know, in perfect condition. So we’re like, we don’t really have an ending to this story. How are we going to finish this episode? And then some producer was like, hey, what if we just filled the whole thing with explosives and see what happens? And we’re all like, yeah, that’s a great idea. And so we went out to the quarry loaded it up with like 850 pounds of explosives. We were a mile away. We set it off and it was like, from then on I was, you know, addicted, like the adrenaline rush was so crazy.
Carol the Cat: You still do builds at home on your own? Occasionally?
Tory Belleci: Occasionally. Yeah. In fact, I did. I did this. There’s this movie, a low budget independent film, and they’re friends of mine. And I was like, Oh, I want to die in your movie. I go, I want a cameo in the movie. And it’s like this. It’s about these two rival gangs. It’s called a Chuck, Hank, and the San Diego Twins. It’s Curt Wolf. It’s the guys who did, they’ve done some movies with Bellflower. Did you guys ever heard of Bellflower? So, so I was like, I want a cameo and on, and it’s like this big gang fight scene. And they were like, oh, all right, well, like, let’s kill you. How can we kill you? And I go, why have a head cast of myself. I can make a fake head and we could figure out a way to like smash my head or something. And so it was fun because I hadn’t really done effects like special effects makeup in a while. And it forced me to kind of pull out my old, you know, materials and my old tools and I made this fake head and in the scene they ripped my head off and it was just, it was like, it was like, oh my gosh, this is the best. So it just, it kind of, it kind of brought me back to just like film school and the independent cinema making film. And it was fun.
Starneslord: Okay. Star Wars. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, nut, so you’ve gotta tell me about being involved with making the ships and the designs.
Tory: I just, Star Wars was, I mean that was the original and 77 was the movie that like changed my life and made me want to do model making and special effects. So when I got a job up at an Industrial Light and Magic, the first movie I worked on was Starship Troopers. Oh yeah. And that’s like one of my favorite movies. Probably like the, my favorite movie, like special effects movie I ever worked on, you know, um, and just to be, there was a dream come true. And then, so we were working on that movie. They are hiring a bunch of people because it was like towards the end of the film, they had to get it out. And when the film was, you know, when the work was done they would lay off most of the shop until another big show would come.
Tory Belleci: So I was laid off and I was like, Oh wow, okay. I could put that on my resume. Cool. And then I got a call from Steve Golly, who is, he was one of the original model makers on Star Wars and built like, he’s like the guru, he’s the master. He called me and he was like, Hey, uh, we’re ramping up a new movie. We wanted to know if you wanted to come in and work on it. And I was like, oh, whatever you guys want, I’ll come work on. And so it wasn’t until I got there, he was like, so, uh, we’re working on SW One. You know, it was like, it was like, oh my gosh, the dream come true. And just, I think I had more fun like working on it was more fun and satisfying than watching the movie. [Laughter]
Tory Belleci: We were so fired up because it was like, you know, it had been so many years since the last Star Wars and it was just like, oh my gosh, like George Lucas is directing, we’re working on the, the name of the new generation of Star Wars. And we had all these like, you know, there, there was all these, uh, conceptual artwork on the walls and all these sculptures that were happening and we were building these models and it was just like everything was new and it looked different and it was exciting. It was grueling. I mean, we, it was like a year and a half of work. You know, that was fun. Then the movie.
Tory Belleci: Then you saw the movie it was like, wait a minute, what happened?
Giddy Geeker: But for the record, it was never the effects that the fans weren’t into. It was the story. And that’s not part of your job.
Tory: That’s true. This is very true. Thank you for making me feel better.
Giddy Geeker: And not only that, but if those three hadn’t happened, then I don’t think that these next three would be, you know, so much at a, at a level two because truly realize we really do want to go back to that world now. We just want some of the original people back as well. And I think, you know, uh, whatever people may say about Star Wars, it’s still, it allowed us to play in that world. Star Trek. Y’All have TV shows you have week after week after week after week. Those of us with Star Wars, we just have to like cling to those and it’s like, I, I, you know, I think Tiffles said it best, now she said it about the Gilmore Girls, but she said it best when she said…
Tory: I know I relate so much.
Giddy Geeker: She’s like, even if it’s a trashcan, at least I get to be in Stars Hollow for another minute. So. Right. You know, I mean like why like we didn’t have anything else. I mean we had the novels, but from a movie perspective we didn’t have anything else.
Starneslord: And the pod race is still one of the coolest sequences in any of the Star Wars movies, I think. I mean it’s so exciting and I mean it was just, it was phenomenal. When you go back and watch it, you’re just like, oh my gosh. Yeah it’s so intricate…
Tory: I mean I there, there was a lot of good points to it. I feel like if like if they just changed Jar Jar’s voice like these changes voice like even just give them like a fake alien voice with subtitles. It would have made it a better film. You would have made him a better character.
Giddy Geeker: Forget about like changing Jabba the Hutt. Let’s just change Jar Jar it would have been fine. Are there questions from the audience before we steal all the time? Remember short questions so I can repeat it because I have no brain.
Audience member: Mythbusters of course. Yeah, the most. But is there one moment that you always wanted to be able to prove or disprove that you got to do? Where is it still one thing?
Giddy Geeker: Yeah. Was there an idea you brought to him and said, this is what I want to work on next? Probably hundreds. Right? But
Tory Belleci: The one that kind of always got away from us was what? I kind of pitched it like this and it was going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel. And, and I said, what if each of us builds our own barrel and you construct it however hard you want. Right. You know, and you just build this insane pod, but then at the last minute everybody has to test other people. So it’s like you can’t test yours. You have to like shift over one and now you have to, you pick out of the hat who’s, whose barrel you’re going to go over. And, and, and they were like, yeah, that’s never going to happen. [Laughter]
Giddy Geeker: But at least I tried,
Tory: yeah, you guys go first and it’ll be who is Tory Belleci on MythBuster? Giddy Geeker: Can we have…are there other questions? So Tory, tell us about some of the projects you’re working on. You’ve got, Jackass, you’ve got the guest spots coming up. What are some things that you’re working on that maybe we won’t see on TV but you’re just doing for fun for yourself?
Tory Belleci: Well, I don’t know if you guys saw the White Rabbit Project. Yeah. So it’s funny. A lot of people don’t like a lot of our die hard fans didn’t even know it happened. Like people were like…
Giddy Geeker: They have algorithms on social media every right now. And I really have a problem that.
Tory: I think the other thing is there’s so much content coming out every like week it feels like on every different platform that it’s really hard to keep track of what’s happening.
Giddy Geeker: Like they want us geeks to be healthier and go out in the sun and then they keep putting all this binge watchable stuff on TV. It’s like you don’t know how long my list is and you’re telling me I have to go walking. I don’t know what to do with this information.
Tory: I don’t have enough hours in my life. Yeah, so, so we did the White Rabbit Project, which we love, but it’s just the name I feel like confused the fans. And it was, our producers wanted to do something completely different than MythBusters, but Netflix called us to do something like MythBusters. So it was just this weird know. It was like this internal conflict where we’re like, let’s give them more explosions. Let’s do more builds together. And they were like, no, no, no, no, you each, you’re going to be separate and you know, we’re going to do these storytelling and reenactments.
Tory Belleci: So I think, you know, there was a lot of um, problems with it, but overall I still think the show is great and I love it. I feel like it wasn’t exactly what fans were expecting.
Giddy Geeker: And that’s frustrating cause you, you know what you want to do.
Tory: You know what the fan, I mean I know what the fans love cause it’s like we, we did it for over a decade and it’s like we saw over the time what shows rated better. It was like when, you know, you have these crazy arcs and then all of a sudden there’s an explosion and then there’s, you know, there’s, you know, a problem that’s solved or a conclusion that nobody expected. You know, it’s like people love that kind of, those surprises and uh, you know, we were trying to put that in.
Giddy Geeker: Yeah, we were talking about that a bit yesterday on some of our panels about how sometimes it’s hard when you’re the face of a project, but you, you can only do so much. You can, yeah. You can give your, your experience, you can give your input, but ultimately you’re the one, you’re on screen trying to do what they want based on what they’re giving you the money for. Yeah. And that can be frustrating at times. So hopefully these new projects that you get to work on are going be…
Tory Belleci: Yeah, no, I’m excited. And then I have this other, it’s, it’s a kind of short content. It was, it came out of the idea of there was so many myths that we couldn’t test because there was no science, there was no kind of you, there was no way to test it scientifically and there was kind of no way to prove it was just kind of ridiculous stories like putting the poodle, the woman who puts her poodle in the microwave to dry it and then the poodle explodes.
Tory Belleci: You don’t want to test that? No, no.
Tory Belleci: So I have this a short animation series that I’m working on right now, but like, like super short, like three minutes, you know, like short content, of all like these either they’re going to be like super stylized, super creepy of the myths that we couldn’t test on the show, but I’m going to do it.
Guardians: Sure. That’s amazing. Yeah. It’s like, stop asking me about the poodles. There’s a video to go, like it’ll be fine.
Carol the Cat: So, well, thank you. Yeah. So where can we find you on the interwebs? We’re very, can we get,
Tory: I’m on Twitter at Tory Belleci and then Instagram is the same and Facebook. And then I’ve got a website and I have a YouYube channel. I haven’t really played around with that. Like I post stuff every once in a while, but I need to do more.
Giddy Geeker: And if there’s one thing that we could ask our listeners on social media to do to help you, what, what could we do to be supportive?
Tory: Oh, that’s nice. I don’t know.
Giddy Geeker: Well there are some in South America too that we don’t know why we hope it’s not to learn English because we’re not good at that.
Tory Belleci: It’s hard to know because it’s like, I guess just engage. Right?
Giddy Geeker: Right. Share.
Tory: Yeah. Share and engage.
Giddy Geeker: Yeah. So just remember supporting local means, just supporting the artists because like you said, if you want to see the kind of stuff that Tory knows will do well, you have to support it when it comes out because otherwise he’s not going to be given the opportunities or people aren’t going to eat. You know, it helps to have that, you know, look, not only do I know this works, but here’s all the people agreeing with me.
Tory: Right. Right. Listen to them.
Giddy Geeker: So make sure you share, retweet, and support all the things you love because if you don’t, it goes away.
Tory: Yeah, that’s true.
Giddy Geeker: Especially in this microwaveable consumable market that we’ve got going on right now.
Tory: And so many things coming at you. It’s like I can’t, I don’t have time to watch everything.
Giddy Geeker: It’s like you have to kind of focus on what you know you can do. If you’re an Instagram person, just be Instagram. If you’re a Twitter person, be Twitter, and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned. It’s like I do all the things because I can suck it all the things, or I could do a couple. Right, so, well, Tory, thank you so much.
Tory: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Tiffles: Thank you.
Giddy Geeker: Tiffles is talking. Say hello.
Tory: She is, she speaks, they don’t let you speak.
Tiffles: No, they don’t.
Giddy Geeker: She’s acting because she asks questions like, what is Smog from Lord of the rings like London fog air, and that just like our credibility as Guardians of the Geekery just kind of goes. It’s like, what are your explosions? Three. Thank you so much.
Tory: Thank you guys. [Applause]
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