‘Survivor: South Pacific’: a chat with Brandon Hantz, Ozzy Lusth

He was a controversial player.

We have some more “Survivor” finale goodness for you now, and this time it’s coming courtesy of our chat with two guys who clearly dominated the airtime for much of the season — Brandon Hantz and Ozzy Lusth.

We managed to squeeze in a few questions with them — and we may ready to anoint Ozzy as the master of long answers in the process.

Carter: Brandon, Sophie told me earlier that she actually would have voted for you if you were in the final three. How does that feel, and do you think that the show really showed much of your positive side?

Brandon: That’s awesome, man — Sophie’s really cool. I can’t complain because you’re always going to have good and bad, and I’m trying to be optimistic about everything.

I think CBS did a great job — everything I dealt with is legitimate and I go through in my life. I don’t cry and trip out on a daily basis, but it’s real life. You’re playing with real people, and even if you’re playing in a game situation it gets real emotional sometimes. I know a lot of the cast would agree with me — it’s pretty rough sometimes but I do think they showed me real well. I appreciate them for that.

They talked at the reunion about ‘Russell vs. Brandon,’ and you’ve certainly been memorable. If you were to come back and play again, what would you do differently?

Just be myself! You know, this time I was so nervous — I was trying to fill the big shoes of Russell. It was a lot of pressure. I wanted to go out there and redeem the Hantz family name, and I didn’t have to do that. It wasn’t really necessarily. I just had to go out there and be me … I’m a lot more exciting and fun to be around. The only thing I regret is that you didn’t see me laugh a lot. You didn’t get to see the real Brandon. I can be strategic if I want, man … we’ll see what happens.

Ozzy, you didn’t win obviously, but you did get the fan favorite award. Even though you were popular the first two times, was the reaction even more positive this go-around?

It was incredible. Yeah, I didn’t win the show and the monetary award the show offers — but I won something better in pure love. I felt so much love from the audience and the people who supported me with the vote. The money would have been nice, but in all honesty the money’s the reason I lost the game. If it had just been purely another challenge, and it wasn’t for that million dollars — that was a million-dollar puzzle, that was too much. Money got into my mind and it corrupted my resolve. If it hadn’t been for that [money], I would have won that challenge. I’m totally 100% confident in that — I’m good with puzzles, but I totally blanked out because I knew that it was a million dollars.

It’s such a weird irony that you play so hard to win, but that was actually my undoing. I had such a good time out there and it was such an amazing gift. The first couple of times I played the game I was amazed at the talent I didn’t even know that I had, and this third time around it just solidified that feeling for me. I can depend on myself when whatever hits the fan. If we’re ever in an Apocalyptic situation, I know I’m going to be all right.

So was part of your motivation for giving Sophie your vote that she beat you in that last challenge?

Yeah! I had to give respect that she beat me in that last challenge and that was a difficult challenge … she rightly won the challenge and she should win the game for it.

I think she played a good strategic game, as well. My mind was not made up going into the jury vote — I wanted to give it to Coach, because I knew how hard it was to make it as far as we did. But Coach let me down in that final tribal. I tried to lob him softballs … I tried to give it to him. I beat Sophie up and I beat Albert up. I didn’t want to give them the money. I wanted Coach to be honest with himself and honest with us that he didn’t play an honest game. Even though he tried, he should have just owned up to the fact that he played a great game, but he didn’t play honestly. That’s all I really wanted to hear from him, and Sophie and Albert were smart to use Coach as a facade or a shield. You can call it riding on coattails, but I think Sophie kept everything together and played a smart strategic game. She was a physical force in the challenges.

Maybe if Coach had been more of a physical force, more of a provider, more of a survival enthusiast … but I had to give Sophie the props.

Were Ozzy and Brandon your favorites this season?

Photo: CBC

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