National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero” is one of the most proclaimed reality TV series, centering on the topic of wilderness survival. However, in 2019, the series took a big hit as one of the most beloved cast members, Glenn Villeneuve, was fired from the show. Glenn was the face of the series for six seasons, but often butted heads with the show’s producers behind the scenes, which culminated in his departure from the series.
Glenn Villeneuve Wiki Bio
Glenn Villeneuve was born in Burlington, Vermont on 18 August 1969 – his zodiac sign is Leo, and he holds American nationality. As he lived in a remote village growing up, Glenn didn’t have an regular education; he finished the first four years of primary school with other children, and was then homeschooled. Glenn eventually enrolled into a local public high school, from which he dropped out after his freshman year, never finishing his GED (General Education Diploma). He developed a profound love for nature and outdoors pretty early on, and started working on his survival skills. At only 13 years old, he walked across the entire state of Vermont alone, equipped with a rifle as protection.
In 1997, Glenn was already living off the grid, in a tent which he set up in the woods of Vermont. It was during this time when he had the idea of moving north, and start living similarly to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Glenn moved to Alaska two years later, eventually settling at Chandalar, 200 miles north of Fairbanks, and 65 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Initially Glenn sustained himself by working as a bush pilot, and spending his first several years there living alone, before marrying an unknown woman, with whom he has three children, son Willow Leaves, and daughters Amelia Atkins and Wolf Song. The couple divorced before Glenn launched his TV career, and he has since remarried to Trisha Kazan.
Due to his unique lifestyle, in the early 2010s, Glenn started looking for a film producer to make a short documentary about wilderness survival, with him as the narrator/main star. One of his acquaintances told him to contact somebody from National Geographic, and sure enough, in 2012 Glenn was cast in their documentary series “Life Below Zero”.
“Life Below Zero”
“Life Below Zero” is a reality/documentary TV series produced by BBC Studios, which follows the daily activities of subsistence hunters in remote areas of Alaska. The show has been airing on National Geographic Channel since May 2013, and is currently entering its 18th season. The series is narrated by James Franzo, who has been the voice behind all 143 episodes that have aired.
Join Glenn Villeneuve for a Q&A during the Life Below Zero season finale at 9/8c! Comment below with your questions and Glenn will answer as many as possible.
Aside from Glenn, the series features many other survivalists including Sue Atkins – a 59 years old woman, living alone in the Kavik river camp in Northern Alaska, 197 miles north of the Arctic Circle. “Life Below Zero” also heavily features the couple Chip and Agnes Hailstone, who live with their seven children on the Kobuk River. Similar to Glenn, Chis was also born in the lower 48, and moved to Alaska in his 20s, while his wife Agnes is a Native Alaskan-born Inupiaq, not only born in Alaska, but having family ties with the place, which extend for thousands of years.
After Glenn left the show, he was replaced by the Native American rights activist Ricko DeWilde. In his first season, we saw Ricko move into his family’s old cabin nears Huslia, Alaska. He’s known for having a deep knowledge of the Alaskan terrain, and for respecting traditions of his tribe. Rick is a father to seven children, who were more frequently incorporated into the show in the recent episodes. Other cast members include Jessi Holmes, Andy Bassich, and Eric and Martha Mae Salitan.
“Life Below Zero” is one of the most critically acclaimed series in the genre, and has won several awards, including seven Primetime Emmys. Due to its popularity, the series has had two spin-offs, entitled “Life Below Zero: Next Generation” and “Life Below Zero: Northern Territories”.
Was Glenn fired from “Life Below Zero”?
Glenn was featured in more than 85 episodes of “Life Below Zero”, before his departure in season 10 of the show. This came as a huge shock to the series’ fans, as Glenn was one of the most beloved cast members. According to him, he wasn’t even properly notified that he wouldn’t be starring in the newest season. ‘Many of you who have already heard this news have asked me why. I don’t know the full answer, I only know that after filming my moose hunt last fall, no one ever called me back about filming again. No goodbyes, no thank you for over 85 episodes, no explanations. (…) After a number of months passed, I inquired as to what was up, and was told only that the schedule was filled and they had no plans to film with me’, Glenn wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.
He also talked on Joe Rogan’s podcast about his experience working on the show, saying that he believes that the network ultimately fired him due to creative differences. ‘When they met me, I fitted into their show like a hand in a glove, but I wanted to do more and share more, so I get bored’, he said. He also claimed that the producers refused to truthfully show the way he actually lived his life, and instead wanted to paint a romanticized picture of the off-the-gird lifestyle to their viewers. In one instance, he went out with the intention of exploring a site, which he believes was populated by people in the Stone Age, however, the producers tried deterring him from that idea, instead suggesting that he does more scenes in which he scavenges for food.
Glenn’s sudden firing upset many fans of “Life Below Zero”, who took to social media to express their support for Glenn. ‘This was my favorite show, but since Glenn left I don’t watch it anymore’, one Twitter user wrote, while another said ‘Get Glenn the hell back in the show!’ On the other hand, some fans on Reddit had a mixed reaction, criticizing Glenn for his attitude to the series. One Reddit user posted a thread on the “Life Below Zero” subreddit, saying: ‘Glenn was the most interesting individual on the show. He thinks he was let go for having his own ideas. I think it was because he seemed to be talking to the camera too much.’ The comments mainly seemed to agree with the sentiment, while another user pointed out Glenn’s tendency do get naked in front of the camera ‘every chance he could get’.
What is he doing now?
As of 2022, it seems highly unlikely that Glenn will ever return to “Life Below Zero”, and he also hasn’t been working on any new TV shows. Nowadays, he is living a peaceful life with his wife Trina and their three children, on their eight-acre property in Fairbanks. Glenn only visits Brooks Range occasionally, as he doesn’t have a permit to live there anymore. Despite not being on TV currently, Glenn still frequently posts to social media, sharing updates about his life.
He appears to have started a business selling survival and camping gear, including tents modified for extreme Alaskan conditions. Furthermore, he’s a real estate and stock market investor, which is believed to bring him significant income.
I sprinted up a hill behind our cabin in Fairbanks today to capture this photo of the light at solar noon, 12:48pm Alaska Time. The sun, behind a layer of cloud, was only 2° above the horizon. Wishing you all a very happy solstice, wherever you may be on this beautiful planet! pic.twitter.com/40BnFjSEnI
— Glenn Villeneuve (@GlennVilleneuve) December 21, 2020
Shortly after Glenn was fired from “Life Below Zero”, rumors started circulating the Internet that he’d lost his life during a hunting trip. The supposed incident took place as Glenn was searching for Dall sheep, but the news has since proven to be false – as we can see, Glenn is alive and well despite having faced death countless times.
Glenn Villeneuve net worth
There are varying reports concerning the salary of “Life Below Zero” stars. Apparently, most members of the cast earn roughly $4,500 per episode. It’s said that Glenn was making more than $200,000 during his time on the show. As of July 2022, his net worth has been estimated at more than $1 million, which he’s accumulated largely through his TV appearances, and other ventures.
Glenn’s craziest stories
Living in the Alaskan wilderness is not easy, and during his time there, Glenn has been through many dangerous and even life-threatening situations. During his appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience”, he described a particularly dangerous encounter with wolves. During winter, he used to track down wolf packs to steal the animals they had already killed, particularly caribous. The wolves are usually not aggressive towards people, according to Glenn, as they are aware of the danger. However, back in January 2012, he had an encounter with a pack of roughly 20 wolves while he was trying to hunt a caribou. When wolves are in this large of a group, they tend to be more aggressive and, sure enough, the entire pack started chasing Glenn. Before he even realized what was happening, Glenn pulled out his rifle, shooting three wolves, which made the rest of the pack ran away.
In another encounter, in the late 1970s, Glenn was chased by a pack of 17 wolves across a frozen lake. Describing the incident, Glenn said ‘I look down at the lake – it’s in January, it’s just twilight in the middle of day, and I see this big brown spot on the ice. I’m like, ‘What the hell is that thing out in front of my cabin?’ About 500 yards away, I see a big brown spot. At first I thought it was water overflow that comes up through the ice sometimes when you get a crack. I get out the binoculars and I’m looking at the spot thinking ‘Holy cow! That’s a giant pack of wolves, that just took something down on the lake!’’ He then proceeded to walk up to them to get pictures, and as he started walking back to the cabin the entire pack raced behind him. ‘I’d never seen anything like it. I sprinted like Jesse Owens through the door of that cabin. I was only 30 yards from it – I turn and I look back out the window and see these wolves came right up into my yard, they were 50 yards from the front door. Twenty wolves! This is unheard of.’ Glenn continued.
Glenn has also tried something a lot of people wouldn’t even think of – eating wolf’s meat. As he explains, he only did this a few times, when he had no access to other food. He would prepare the meat by boiling it, to ensure that the meat is free of parasites. Glenn also claims to get his vegetables from caribou stomach contents, as he had no other access to them.
“Life Below Zero” controversies
Glenn’s criticism of “Life Below Zero” has made a lot viewers wonder how much of the series is actually produced. He isn’t the only cast member to accuse the show of being overly scripted – in 2017 Sue Aikens filed a lawsuit against the series production company, claiming that she was forced to travel to and camp at a spot she was unfamiliar with, using a snow machine. She was also disallowed to take her dog with her, even though it goes everywhere with her outside of the show. Sue further claims that during her travel to the camp, she fell off her show machine, but the showrunners refused to call the medics because they wanted to film her walking injured.
The lawsuit is not the only controversy behind “Life Below Zero”. During season 10, Chip Hailstone was noticeably missing from the show, serving a 15 months prison sentence. According to the court documents, Chip was sentenced for perjury and making false statements to police. A few years back, he apparently claimed that an Alaskan state trooper had physically assaulted his daughter Tinmaiq. In a separate incident, he accused a Noorvik resident of pointing a rifle at his daughter, after a fight involving his stepson. Chip was initially sentenced to three years probation, which was reduced to 15 months in prison.
Another controversy involved Andy Bassich, whose ex-wife Kate Rorke left the show and moved back to Canada in 2015, following their divorce. As the main reason for the divorce, she cited his physical and mental abuse. She recently posted a video update, saying: ‘The memories are good, the friends are good, and it’s nice to be around people who have known me since the beginning of time it seems as we get older… You guys, you all got me here and you saved my life in a way, so love to you. Over and out.’