Fiji, Tasmania, Hawaii, the Rockies: Brandon Johnson has been thoroughly enjoying the remote locations of his new job. An actor who has appeared on 'One Life to Live' and Disney's hit show 'Shake It Up,' the Minnesota native is hosting the new TNT reality competition '72 Hours,' which premieres at 9 p.m. EDT on TNT.
"It's an incredible job," he says, "to have your office be a helicopter."
Each new episode features three new teams of three contestants who are dropped off in the wilderness with nothing but water, a GPS tracking device, and the clothes on their backs. They have three days to find a briefcase full of $100,000 in cash, or, alternately, simply to survive the ordeal. "The course pushes people to their limits, and exposes them for who they really are," Johnson tells 'Men's Journal.' "We want to rip off the mask that they wear every day. There are lots of obstacles physically, but even more emotionally and mentally. There are a couple of episodes where people are pushed to the absolute brink."
Johnson, who was born in Bloomington, Minnesota, says he grew up in the great outdoors, camping, fishing, and hunting. "I'm an adrenaline junkie," he says. "I have a thrill for adventure, and life in general."
Armchair travelers may learn a handy tip or two for their next hike or camping trip by watching the show, Johnson says: "Something as simple as a bandanna or a shirt – not only do they protect you from the elements, but you can also use them as a filtration system or to carry things. Shoelaces are great for starting fires or climbing trees, if you need to do surveillance. If you have a pair of sunglasses, you can use them as a magnifying glass to start fires."
In a recurring role on 'Hannah Montana,' Johnson played an unctuous singing-show host who reminded viewers not a little of a certain real-life unctuous singing-show host. He fancies himself a student of the field: "I recently had the chance to sit next to Wink Martindale from 'Tic-Tac-Dough' back in the day," he says. "It's a trip when you rub shoulders with some of these people. But this is kind of more a Jason Bourne-type character, an action hero. I'm having a ball." ['72 Hours' premieres on TNT on June 6 at 9 p.m. EDT]