Wil's life experiences made him the perfect host for 'Forged in Fire.'
For those unfamiliar with the show, Forged in Fire is a unique glimpse into the past. The show features world-class bladesmiths recreating historical weapons in a competition. There are four judges, and Wil has served as the show's host for quite some time. His responsibilities on the show have included giving competitors specifications to meet for their blades and offering advice.
Before he was a television host, Wil was an Army Ranger for four years and an Air Force Pararescueman (PJ) for 10. He occasionally spoke about his experiences on his Instagram, detailing the lengthy process of becoming both. Wil was inspired to join the military by his father's own service in the U.S. Army until 1991.
Wil has previous experience on television shows that premiered on the Military Channel: Special Ops and Triggers. The show Forged in Fire was Wil's big break, as he is also the host of the spin-off show, Forged in Fire: Beat the Judges.
This show encourages previous Forged in Fire champions to face off against one of the four judges for an additional $10,000. However, recent revelations may have come to change his role on the show entirely.
Was Wil Willis replaced on 'Forged in Fire'?
While fans were still eagerly awaiting the return of Forged in Fire back in November, rumors started bubbling that Wil was replaced as a contributor on the popular History Channel series.
"Just saw a promo for the upcoming season of Forged in Fire and it said there's a new host. What happened to Wil Willis?" one viewer tweeted at the time.
It's true, Wil was replaced by former National Geographic star of Ultimate Survival Alaska Grady Powell for the show's 2021 season. According to Trib Live, the History Channel said that the decision to replace Wil with Grady was made to earmark a "new chapter" in the show's existence, and with the new year underway it makes much more sense now.
"As with any legacy series that has had the privilege of being on the air for five-plus years, fans will notice new names and faces from time to time. While we appreciate Wil Willis and everything he brought to the series we are excited to start this new chapter and welcome Grady Powell into the 'forge' as our new host," the network told the publication of its decision.
Despite the well-thought-out response, more fans seemed to be upset about the switch than eager, as expressed on social media. Tweets like, "I am disappointed to learn that they got rid of the host Wil Willis. Won’t be the same without him tbh," became prevalent after the announcement.
"Watching since the beginning. Enjoyed every show. Waiting for next season. Please don't leave Wil," said another fan who's unhappy with the switch to Grady at the tail end of 2020.
While many television shows halted production due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, there might have been a good reason Wil had to sit the 2021 season out. In March 2020, he welcomed a child with his wife, artist Krystle Amina!
The host took to Instagram to welcome the birth of his son Flash Orion Willis on Mar. 6, 2020, writing, "Docs had to go in for this guy but happy to say he and Momma are doing great!"
Wil is also a father to two other children from a previous marriage.
Wil opened up about his time on the show after his contract ended.
In a lengthy interview with the B3f podcast, Wil got candid about working conditions on the show. "The majority of my time at Forged in Fire was spent sitting inside of this hotbed of s--t," he explained, describing his trailer. "The smell was outrageous … I swear to God it was probably 4 feet by 6 feet total. It was not a big space."
He also spoke candidly about the filming process, saying it would take "three to five days to film an episode — it’s the slowest, most boring process in the world." Despite said complaints, he still gave props to the crew of the show, calling them the ones that are "making sure that all of these pieces that make Forged in Fire what it is come together into this show that everybody loves."
Despite the upset feelings generated by the loss of Wil on Forged in Fire, fans have been having a blast (no pun intended!) re-watching episodes that still showcased their favorite longtime host. In fact, some even went as far as making jokes about a potential crossover between Forged in Fire and The Mandalorian sometime in the future due to both shows having some skilled blacksmiths.
The revamped Forged in Fire now helmed by Grady airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the History Channel.