‘Survivor: South Pacific’: the John Cochran interview

Cochran was a star of this season.

There’s no question that John Cochran was a key player this season of “Survivor.” The guy started the game as an outcast on the Savaii tribe, but thanks to some quick thinking (and occasionally a bit of luck) he managed to stick around well into the merge.

Before talking to the guy, we admit that we went into this with a little bit of a bias. As a fellow “Survivor” geek, we were rooting for the guy to go to the end — but at least we got a pretty entertaining interview out of it.

Carter: So going into this game as a fan, were you trying to emulate the games of some other past people who weren’t exactly physical threats like Stephen Fishbach and Todd Herzog?

Cochran: Todd I listed as my favorite winner in my application. I was hoping to do something like that, obviously — and I think the reason why people have had such a negative response to me, especially online, is that other people were probably hoping I was going to play that sort of game. Then I come out and I’m a joke. I’m a jester that fumbles his way through the game.

I was envisioning myself as a kind of Herzog / Fishbach / Cersternino mold, but I kind of ended up being a Shambo as it turns out.

You say that your reaction has been negative, but I know a lot of people that were cheering for you. What has been the reaction of some of your friends who have been watching this?

Of course they have been super-supportive, but they’re a little bit biased. They get a kick out of it because I’ve always been known as the ‘Survivor Guy’ ever going back to high school. Most of my best friends are from high school, so they remember the day where I would wear buffs to school and have a bulletin board that I had in the hallway. They were very aware that this was like a dream come true, so they’ve been great.

So during the episode that you were voted off, it was presented like Coach was going to do what he could to save you. Was that what it was like out there?

I don’t think Coach had any intention of ever keeping me. I think if he thought he could keep me without any sort of negative reaction, he would have kept me and Edna. But I think Albert is the one who really wanted to keep me, and then Edna. All I needed was Albert, Edna, me, and Coach.

You saw me — I approached Coach and pitched the plan to him. He like enigmatically stares into the ocean for like twenty seconds, and I’m like ‘what the hell are you doing? you’re not even reacting to what I just said!’ I got the sense there that he was just [not going to keep me] … I know he really likes me and I really like Coach. I don’t think that he really intended to keep me because he was so fixated on honoring the five. 

He called you Hercules, so did he ever call you the co-coach?

(Laughs.) I never got co-coach. I was always the ‘student,’ which he enjoys. He was always desperate for a student … he liked to call me ‘the most powerful man in the game,’ he would try to build me up that way. He would say that, and around the time of the merge episode and say ‘Cochran, you are the most important man in the game’ — and then, he’d say ‘guess that? That’s going to be the title of the episode title.’ He was always aware of those sort of things, but it did not end up being the episode title.

One last quick thing — Jeff obviously [is a fan] and you could be asked to play again. If you were invited back, what would you do differently next time?

First off, I would work out more — I wouldn’t be much a pathetic physical specimen.

In terms of strategy, I would be more proactive in having an alliance day one. My problem with my interactions on that Savaii tribe were that we were a very fractured tribe. The six of us — it wasn’t like it was going to be the six of us until the end, it just happened to be the six of us after the tumultuous pre-marge game we had. That was the difference between Savaii and Upolu — day two, Upolu was like ‘we are the five, we are the six.’

Photo: CBS

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