Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.
Whether you love Rupert Boneham or you hate him, you can’t deny that the feelings he has for his wife Laura are very real. Those feelings are obvious to anyone who saw their family visits on “Survivor: All-Stars” and “Heroes vs. Villains.” They were obvious to me when they held hands during our first meeting at the “Survivor” ten-year reunion party. And they were obvious to me as they smooched before our “Blood vs. Water” pre-game interview.
So, it wasn’t a surprise when the man many consider to be the most popular player of all time immediately stepped forward to rescue his wife from Redemption Island.
It also wasn’t a surprise when the big, burly pirate had trouble with a challenge that required grace and finesse.
I spoke with Rupert the morning after his Redemption Island defeat and asked about that fateful Day One morning, his relationship with Candice, and how this quick exit will affect his legacy…
Gordon Holmes: How’s it going, buddy?
Rupert Boneham: I’m doing pretty good for being the first person voted out of “Survivor” 27” darn it!
Holmes: We certainly didn’t see that coming. Let’s start with Day One…we get an immediate vote and your wife Laura is the first to go. Why do you think Tadhana targeted her?
Boneham: I’ve went over that and I’ve watched that thing so many times trying to figure out why they’d target Laura. The only thing I can come up with is; everybody kind of knew her name. She’d been out there a while, and it was more of a vote against me.
Holmes: When Probst gave you the opportunity to swap, you didn’t hesitate for a second. What was going through your mind at that moment?
Boneham: It was gut wrenching. When I heard Laura’s name the second time, the third time, the fourth time my heart was sinking. And in past “Survivors” they’ve done this thing where they’ve choppered them around the island, they gave them a little extra bonus, so I wasn’t as worried. And then I realized that Redemption Island is in. And when Jeff said you can switch places, before I even knew what I was trading into, I pushed my way through my darn tribe with them saying, “No, don’t go!” I would do the same thing every time, one thousand times. But, I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to play the game as much.
Holmes: When I visited Galang beach, Laura seemed to be doing a fantastic job around camp. She did very well in that first immunity challenge. That has to be a source of pride for you.
Boneham: One of the reasons I traded with her is because I knew she was ready. The woman is a stronger swimmer than I am. She’s a better runner than I am. She’s a better puzzle builder than I am. I knew she would do OK. And with me being out of the picture it hopefully takes a little bit of the target off of her. Now she’s a free agent. She’s not a couple anymore. Hopefully her tribe will see that and use that. But, I’m very proud of my honey.
Holmes: I interviewed Candice before the game, and she was worried about having you in the game. Apparently there was still some bad blood after “Heroes vs. Villains.” But after the challenge she got a big Boneham bear hug. Were you two able to mend fences?
Boneham: Candice and I have a rocky relationship. When we were on Redemption Island I have to say that you’re darn right I let her do a lot of work. But, she’d go to sleep and I’d go out and catch little lobsters and clams. I’d cook them and eat them myself because I knew there was only one of us coming out of Redemption Island. I don’t really want to take care of anyone else there. The reason Candice stopped me as I was leaving…she was trying to take my luxury item, that big tie-dye flag that I had!
Holmes: (Laughs) I’d give up a flag for a Candice hug.
Boneham: (Laughs) She wanted it, she was trying to take it from me. I was saying, “No, you cannot have my tie-dye flag, I’m taking it home.”
Holmes: A Redemption Island challenge is very different from individual immunity. You lose an individual immunity challenge and you still have time to maneuver before Tribal. Redemption Island is literally do or die. How stressful was that?
Boneham: Walking into there…I was so freaked out. I couldn’t even find Laura for the first few seconds. I thought, “Oh my gosh, they brought everybody but Laura?!” Then when I found her I calmed down a little bit. These challenges don’t play to my strengths. It’s not strength or endurance. They play to balance and calm steadiness. I was not calm, I was not steady. It was tough.
Holmes: You can make the argument that Rupert Boneham is the most popular “Survivor” player of all time. You’ve got a million-dollar check that helps make that argument. But now we’ve got this quick exit. First one out. But, you weren’t voted out. And you saved your wife in what can be seen as a heroic gesture. How does this season affect your legacy?
Boneham: From what I’ve seen already from the e-mails and the response from fans…people that know me know there was no other choice I could make. The people that don’t understand, I have to say, “Yes, I love the game. But it is a game. My wife is my life.”
Holmes: You’ve won a fan vote before. Do you think you can pull of Player of the Season having only been out there four days?
Boneham: If I can win the fan favorite (laughs) after being the first one off, how funny would that be? I would love doing that. You’re going to see me at the end of this season campaigning for fan favorite.
Holmes: I think I know the answer to this, but would you be open to going out a fifth time?
Boneham: If CBS said, “You want to play the game again?” You’re darn right I’ll say, “Yes.” But I hope they don’t bring Laura back with me. If she wants to play, that’s wonderful, but having someone out there that you care about makes it harder to play the game.
Holmes: I was joking that if my loved one went farther than I did, that I would expect some ribbing. But, in your case, I think you’re immune.
Boneham: I think so. And she still says “Thank you” to me.
Holmes: I think maybe you don’t owe her an anniversary gift this year.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes