Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images)
Much has been said about Anthony Bourdain since his passing in June of this year, and much will continue to be said about the Parts Unknown host, especially as the final season unfolds. Some positive and inspiring, some not as much. But Bourdain’s final guest, W. Kamau Bell, remembers an “open and friendly” man who spoke sincerely between takes of how “lucky” and fortunate he felt throughout the show’s final shoot in Kenya.
After a lengthy struggle with substance abuse, the former chef-turned-culinary delight died tragically at 61. And while a lot of the media surrounding Bourdain’s suicide has been suspicious and assuming as to his mindset in his final days, Bell, a host of his own show United Shades of America, remembers a very different Bourdain.
“Sometimes you tell people stuff like that and they just go, ‘Oh cool,'” Bell says. “But then he leaned in and talked about how lucky he felt in his career,” he told Esquire.
Bell spoke of Bourdain’s candor but also of his joy for what he does.
“He really approached it like, ‘This is my life’s work.’ Not like, ‘I’m the host of a travel show.’ In the final scene, he says something like ‘I do my best. I look. I listen. But in the end, I know, it’s my story.'”
In the end, Bell remembers a grateful and sincere Bourdain.
“It was a wide shot, the cameras were pulled way back, and I was like, “Well, they’re not gonna use this stuff for the show because I know how this works. This will just be an edit,” he said. “Stripped away, it was just two dudes talking about how strange their careers have been and how lucky they felt in that moment.”
“So for me, it was like an invitation to all of us media makers, and also an invitation to people who have stories that haven’t been told, to get out there and tell their stories,” Bell said.