‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ exclusive: Dan Foley reacts to edit, talks confessions, explains game decisions

Dan -Dan Foley said before going into the game on “Survivor: Worlds Apart” that he wanted to be remembered, and we certainly feel at this very moment like he accomplished that goal and then some. Clearly, the post office technician from Maine is a big personality, and he also has big opinions. Many of them led to him being one of the most derided figures of the season. He would at times be dismissive, and would say extremely harsh things about the other players in the confessionals.

We often do not read other exit interviews before conducting one ourselves, but we chose to do so here mostly because of the fact that we were curious to see how Dan approached some of the touchier subjects from this season, especially since he spoke with many other outlets before getting on the phone with us. It gave us a sense of where his head was at, but also ways to better understand what compelled him to do some of the things he did out there.

CarterMatt – Let’s start with this. Did you have any sense going into these past few weeks that the reaction to you was going to be what it was? You said all along that you wanted to be remembered, but there are a lot of different ways to be remembered.

Dan Foley – I feel like I rubbed the genie’s lamp, and I phrased the wish badly and the wish was perverted on me. When I said that [I wanted to be remembered] … I have two modes. I have awake and asleep. This is Dan Foley. I was not putting on a facade or do something different than what I typically do. I can give you a list of a hundred people, and they will all say ‘no, that’s Dan Foley. That’s exactly who he is.’ For good, bad, for indifferent, that’s who I am.

I thought so much about wanting to play the game, I never really gave after the game any real thought. I’m not going to lie; there are certain aspects of the game that I am really disappointed in for how they represented me. I really feel like they did me dirty. I do think that there other aspects that they represented me very nicely, such as how I care about my wife and my family. I think the fact that I showed that I am a very loyal person.

I’m curious because I know you traveled thousands of miles for auditions and you tried so hard to be on this game for so long. After all the backlash and some of what you’ve faced, are you still happy that you did the show?

At first it was very shocking and difficult to take, but I am the sort of person who doesn’t live with regret for my choices. I make my choices in life, and they either benefit me or they hurt me. Either way, that’s fine because they are my choices. I think they showed it very clearly in the edit from a couple of weeks ago: Nobody decides my fate but me. I dictate what happens to me, not you or you or you. If someone else has something to say about it, it is because I let them. My wife dictates my future along with me, and that’s how I live my life.

I don’t have problems with my choices. Do I regret playing ‘Survivor’? Come on (laughs), it’s ‘Survivor,’ man! I chased this for 14 years, and casting made it very clear to me that I have set the new bar for somebody trying to get on the show. There’s something to be said for that. If they asked me tomorrow to come back on the show, would I? Of course I would, come on!

We’re going to talk about the game, but the last sort of meta-question I have is about confessionals, since much of the controversy around you has to do with comments you made in there about Shirin and others. How were you approaching those, as an opportunity to vent, as a chance to explain your strategy, or something else?

I saw them for what they were. In the moment, it’s hard to think ‘holy cow, this is going to be on national television.’ I think you lose sight of that to a certain extent, but I always try to keep it in mind.

Max Dawson said it best to me, since he’s been doing all of these podcasts recently because of ‘Second Chances,’ and my name keeps coming up. He has said ‘Dan Foley is the most genuine person who lives in the truth. Dan may not be PC, but he is authentic.’

Did I taper some of the things that I said? I did, and I know it may be hard to think that someone like me can actually have tact. How can I possibly get credit for things I can’t say? There was a lot of thought put into things that I did say and didn’t say, and I was fairly purposeful because there were some people I care about on the season because I didn’t want to say anything to hurt them … Then, there were people I didn’t care about, and it didn’t really matter. [With them] it was kind of ‘here’s what it is.’

Let’s get into talking about the game. You and Mike were very close early on, and it felt like you guys were almost going to be an underdog pair. Did all of that change just because of what happened around the auction, or was there something else?

That is spot-on. Mike was getting really paranoid before we got rid of Joe. Before Tyler won the tippy-toe challenge, Mike was talking about getting rid of Tyler that night, and I said ‘dude, it is way too early, we can’t do this,’ but he was freaking out over the fact that they were coming to get him, and they were gunning for him. The harder he pushed, the harder that everyone resisted. We knew that Rodney was going to jump ship and go off with Joaquin, and I knew that Rodney was trying to make moves. But, the four of them [in Rodney, Will, Tyler, and Carolyn], depending on who they sided with, it was tough because we really only had Jenn and Shirin at that point, and nobody wanted to team up with those two. Nobody did! It definitely put us in a tough spot.

Then, I knew somebody went through my bag, so I eventually tried to turn a negative into a positive and I brought Sierra and Rodney over and told them what my advantage was. Now, all of a sudden, I got a little bit of power left in the game, and people want to stick with people who have an advantage. That’s a double-edged sword. If I have an advantage, I’m a threat; but if you are a part of someone with an advantage, then all of a sudden, you’ll hang with me. Kind of like what Tyler did with Carolyn, or what Rodney did to get rid of Tyler before I went anywhere. If you remember when Tyler went, I got zero votes that night. Last night, the majority was with me. I got minority votes and I got outed with an idol. If it wasn’t for that idol, I’d be in a very different position obviously, since people were still with me.

When it comes to the way you dealt with people in the game, you were very quick to dismiss people who came up to you with ideas. Was that a strategic move on your part, to show your allies that you could be trusted and you weren’t out plotting with other people?

This is a game where you have to get people to trust you, and you can’t trust anybody. When you say things to people, you have to say things to people in a way that they will believe you. If you just give someone [a timid response], nobody’s going to believe you! They won’t believe a word you say if you don’t say things dramatically, or if you don’t put some dramatic flair or emphasis into it. Nobody’s going to believe you. Did I do things differently because I was in the game? No. I don’t feel like I need to say things in such a fashion when I’m in my normal life, so it felt like that was the way that the game dictated [I acted], especially with some of these people because some of them were more difficult than others. Rodney was a monster personality. Carolyn is a strong-willed woman who is tough. Mike was able to get into her mind, and my game was pretty linear at that point, and the majority wanted to get Carolyn gone, so I voted [with them].

Was there a lot of talk about Carolyn having the idol out there?

We talked about Carolyn having the idol a lot. Shirin said that she had burnt something; I don’t remember what it was, but I think it was like some sort of clue that they got at a reward for the hidden immunity idol, and I think Carolyn threw it into the fire and burned it in front of everybody. She was great. She was great about being tight-lipped that she had it. Mike said that she had something, so he obviously suspected that she had an idol, and the rest of us didn’t. She got me. Good on her.

In the end, it would have taken way more time than the few minutes we were allotted with Dan to really start to understand the motivation behind some of his actions on the show. We have seen in some other interviews that while he is remorseful over some of the things that he said, he also believes that he was often edited poorly or in the incorrect context.

If you missed our review of last night’s “Survivor: Worlds Apart” episode, head over to the link here right now. Also, you can sign up right now to get some other TV updates on all we cover via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: CBS.)

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