Jack Osbourne was always fascinated with ghost stories as a kid, reading Goosebumps and watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? on TV. Not to mention the fact that he is a son of the “Prince of Darkness” himself, Ozzy Osbourne. This infatuation with the paranormal grew while living in England when he and a sister heard footsteps walking around upstairs on a floor above them.
“We were the only ones in the house,” Osbourne recalled. “Mom and dad thought we were imagining it, but it was clear as a day,”
More instances happened as a teenager in the famed family’s Malibu home.
“A friend of mine told me he woke up one time and saw five people in the room walking around looking over him in bed, where he couldn’t move. He didn’t freak out and came down the next morning saying, ‘What the f— is wrong with this house? Who were those people in my room last night?’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ That same house, doors would open and close. Me and my dad saw a girl walk past us at one point. It was a pretty poppin’ house.”
Osbourne takes his otherworldly curiosity to another level with Portals to Hell, a new series on Travel Channel pairing him with noted paranormal researcher and investigator Katrina Weidman, whom fans may remember as a co-host on the former series Paranormal Lockdown.
In Portals, Osbourne and Weidman venture to unique sites to explore their haunted history. Sites visited included the Alaskan Hotel in Juneau and Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Kentucky. Over the eight hour-long episodes, revelations are uncovered, spiritual forces emerge, and things might not always be what they seem.
Before you turn down those lights (or not!) and grab that bowl of popcorn, settle in for a spooky Q&A with Jack Osbourne.
You’ve done paranormal shows and projects before. What do you think separates Portals to Hell from the rest?
Jack Osbourne: Our approach and the style we use. We very much try and have the audience feel like they are there with us. We let things breathe. We certainly don’t fake a damn thing in there. So much so when creepy things are happening, I’d call producers and say, ‘Are you guys f—ing with us right now?’ We came at this with such integrity. We felt if something happens, and we can prove it was the wind or creaky pipe, we’ll own it. The style, these episodes are really creepy and beautifully shot.
It did feel like a horror movie is unfolding in real time before your very eyes. And you experienced all this with your onscreen partner Katrina. Had you known her prior?
Katrina and I were Facebook friends. Having done other paranormal shows, I got plugged into that world, and Katrina is a seasoned veteran doing these types of shows. We were friends, so when the show started coming together and the network sent over a list of potential people they would consider having as a co-host, she was on the top of the list. I reached out to her. We had breakfast one day and shared a lot of the same beliefs, and how we would like to carry on the investigations. It happened really seamlessly and organically.
One of the things you notice while watching Portals to Hell is the technology being utilized. How do you think that has evolved over the years and helped with the work?
From doing Haunted Highway to now, I wouldn’t say the technology has come leaps and bounds, because at the end of the day, it’s all very fringe. We’re not coming up with some new quantum mechanic instrument here. It’s fringe science, and the technology we use is all theoretical. They are just tools to aid us in the investigation.
[With] some of the stuff, producers have gotten really fascinating results, which when you sit there and try to troubleshoot it. A logical explanation is indicating that it’s not something from the other side. It’s hard to come up with.
Katrina has this instrument called a Geoport. We used it at one location [LaLaurie Mansion] in New Orleans. We asked it how many people are in the room right now? There were nine of us. Then clear as day, it says nine. An iPhone can’t even do that. It would say members of the crew’s name. It would give us information. I don’t understand how you could do that. There is no way to manipulate it with a secondary device.
You get to talk to the owners of these properties or others who have experienced activity and know the history. What kind of piece of mind or impact do you feel your visits have left after you’re gone?
We do a lot of fact-checking as we go. Our producers, we will research a location and get the greenlight from the network to go. We have a certain idea and story that is leading us there. Then a lot of times as we dig in and are investigating, we find some facts have been elaborated on. Some facts have been completely made up.
We actually do clean through a lot of the myth and legend of these locations to get the facts straight as we go. Sometimes it’s way spookier. Sometimes it’s less. At the end of the day, I don’t think we encountered any one place that you would classify as a total dud.
Do you have a favorite one?
I loved going to the Eastern State Penitentiary. It’s this fortress of a prison smack-dab in the middle of Philadelphia. It has had thousands of people die there. Members of the crew had experiences. Me and Katrina did. The place was very active. Now, can I definitively say that place is haunted? I can’t really say that about anywhere, because I don’t think we really know what ghosts are. We have a theory. We have an idea. We have our individual experiences which could back up those theories. But whatever is going on in that location is so strange and unexplainable to me.
Do you already have some ideas of where you would want to go if there was a Season 2?
We have a couple of places we want to hit. Our criteria for investigating places are if there is a high amount of paranormal activity there, does it continuously experience hauntings and is there a place nobody has been before with cameras? Those are our buckets we try to fill with our investigations.
Has the family watched any of the episodes yet or are they freaked out by it?
They haven’t actually watched an episode. It’s funny, because we all work in TV and entertainment, so when we get home we usually don’t talk about work. But I might have them watch the premiere episode at my house.
How is your dad doing? Are there still plans for more Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour?
We were supposed to be filming now, but he got injured. It has been put on hold. We are going to see where things are at when he is good to go. It’s something I enjoy doing and something amazing to have with my dad. I hope we haven’t seen the end of it.
What is it like after all these years to work with your family?
It’s good and bad. Working with family can be a blessing and a curse. All and all, I’m so grateful I’ve had those experiences with them. I got to spend 30 weeks over the last three years traveling with my dad. You can’t put a price tag on that. It’s like those credit-card commercials — priceless.
You recently shared in an Instagram post about being sober and those who helped you on your journey. What is your mindset right now? What is it like to have others touched by your story?
For me, my work grounds me. It gives me a sense of pride and purpose. I didn’t get sober just to get sober. I got sober to be given the opportunity to seize whatever life throws at me. Some of that is good stuff. Some of that is bad, but I have certain milestone marks where I can say, ‘Well, I got through that. So, I can get through it again or something even worse if it has to be that way.’ Sobriety is a gift, and I’m not going to take advantage of that. My health is in a good spot with the MS.
I feel really fortunate at where I’m at in life. For me, I like to share about it. The state of this nation with the opioid crisis, for instance; I mean, there are tens of thousands of people dying as a result of addiction. It shouldn’t be that way. I don’t think enough people are speaking out about a solution and that there can be hope. If someone reads that and gets inspired to call someone and get some help, awesome. That would be worth the 16 years [of sobriety] right there. That’s it.