Some days it's pretty cool to be me. Like when I woke up and in the inbox of my e-mail there was a brief message from Jamie Hyneman—the stoic, beret-wearing creator of such modern marvels as the pressurized chicken gun, the penny gun and, my personal favorite, the rocket car. Between running a successful special effects company and co-hosting the brilliantly entertaining television program Mythbusters , it was more than cool—übercool, to create a word, for him to squeeze in a little time for Joe-Mammy.com to speak candidly of killer robotic death machines, fame and dog poo.
Joe Mammy: In the dictionary under “Renaissance Man” I have no doubt that there's a picture of you tucked in there—you've got a résumé that's both eclectic and rather daunting. Does it seem amazing to you the way everything's come together or is it just another step in exploring things that interest you, or some hybrid of the two?
Jamie Hyneman : I have had unbelievably good fortune following what I find interesting. I seem to be able to jump into things I have no experience with and make good — just by being methodical, determined and hard working. The experiences have given me such a broad background that I am a good problem solver now, and was a good choice for a host on the show. It has in fact now all come together, just in time before I succumb to too much loss of performance due to age.
Joe: You've been involved in some memorable projects behind the scenes with your special effects work, however I suspect most people would most easily know you as the guy with mustache on “ Mythbusters .” Do you prefer one more than other or do you find them to be a good way to balance each other?
Jamie: The fame involved with being on TV is bewildering; I am pretty much doing the same stuff I was doing before, but because I am on TV people now treat me like I'm special. It's kind of silly. It is also kind of absurd; I am someone pretty thoroughly entertained by locking myself up in a dark room and inventing some machine in my head. Up at 5, in bed by 9. Not exactly your stereotype of a TV personality.
Joe: Okay, I have to ask this: in your bio it says you have a degree in Russian languages and literature. What inspired you to study that field?
Jamie: I needed a language requirement for a BA and chose Russian because I collected classical music and loved the sound of the language. Meanwhile I was taking sculpture classes, which was my main interest - the Professor was showing us pictures of dog poo sculptures and pretty well curbed my desire to sculpt at that time. I chose Russian as my major because it was clean and not subjective. Kind of came full circle now; my shop turns out quite a bit of high level sculpting, even though I don't do it myself.
Joe: What's the most dangerous thing you've ever built?
Jamie: That would be a large list. To enter a room with the first robot I built would be to instantly spray the room bright red. I have a thing down in the shop right now that is remote controlled, very fast and has a fully automatic cannon on it.
Joe: How did the show come together?
Jamie: I was interviewed a while back about one of the above machines by our current producer. He had the idea for the show, approached me and there you go. I realized that I am a bit too serious and unanimated to carry a show, and recommended Adam and I work as a team. It turned out to be a good idea.
Joe: Can you give me a little sample of what's in store for the new season of “ Mythbusters ?”
Jamie: The shows will start airing any day now. I can't tell you about them for contractual reasons but I do have this to say: we have been asked when we will run out of material for the show, and our standard answer is: when will people stop doing stupid stuff? The show will just be getting up to speed this season.
Joe: Is there someone you consider to be an inspiration or mentor? Or put another way; is there a point that you look back at as a starting point for where you've ended up today?
Jamie: No mentor. I realized somewhere along the line that it was possible to earn a living doing something that was fun, and in fact it makes alot of sense.
You get motivated that way. My job is about as fun as it could possibly be for me.
Joe: If there were one thing you wanted to do before you die, what would it be?
Jamie: Make a space traveling vehicle and tour the universe with a bunch of young women in bikinis.
Joe: Free rant: name something that pisses you off and what you'd like to do about it.
Jamie: Traffic lights could be fixed to where you spend a fraction of the time you do sitting at them. What's with that? What's with the desire to waste fuel on large vehicles? Why on earth would anyone with half a brain have a problem with birth control?
I'd like the world to slow down and behave. Humans as a whole seem to be about as together as a 3 year old.
Joe: What accomplishment are you the proudest of?
Jamie: Not much. I am able to make some cool stuff. I mind my own business and am not unkind. I suppose it is good that young people are watching the show and being encouraged to use their brains and learn things.
Joe: Looks like there's more “ Mythbusters ” on tap and I'm sure there's always more SFX projects, what's up next for you?
Jamie: I have alot on my plate and am running an FX shop while hosting the show, which requires more than just talking. I am just hanging on and hope I don't get killed right away. We are constantly going into new territory.
Joe: And any parting words of wisdom?
Jamie: Read alot.
Mythbusters airs on Tuesdays (among other times) on the Discovery channel. Check it out for the first time or fall in love with it all over again. New episodes premiering now!