‘Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance’ exclusive: Kelly Wiglesworth on alliance with Joe, strategy, experience

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We admit that going into our “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance” exit interview today with Kelly Wiglesworth, we weren’t sure what to expect. She was somewhat shy in doing a whole lot of campaigning in the pre-game, and she had a very different outlook on the game in that she values loyalty and teamwork more so than the frequent alliance-shifting and backstabbing that has become an huge part of what it means to play.

What we found in speaking to her Thursday morning, though, was someone who did enjoy getting to go back out there, and still seems relatively hungry for more if given the opportunity. We learned at least a few things about her outlook on the game and how she was perceived through this. She also has a good story or two from Borneo to share!

CarterMatt – Were you surprised at all to be going home? Did you hear any whispers out there about you?

Kelly Wiglesworth – I was and I wasn’t surprised. I knew people were after me. I knew I was a target and a threat from day one. I just didn’t think it was going to happen that night. Right before we were leaving Tasha just kind of looked at me and said ‘something’s not right,’ and I replied and said ‘I know. Something feels weird, something’s going down. I don’t think it’s going to happen the way that we think.’

In interacting with some of the other players, do you think coming from that first season made you more of a target than you would’ve been otherwise?

Definitely. There was that constant attention of ’15 years,’ ’15 years,’ original this and original that. That definitely hammered it into people’s brain that I’m from the original show and I lost by one vote. That reminded people constantly that any jury [could vote for me]. I think Terry told me on one of the swaps that ‘you know any jury’s going to give you the money. If I’m on the jury, I’m going to give it to you.’ I don’t think he meant it in any way to effect my game. I think he meant it in a nice way, but I was like ‘don’t say that, dude!’ (Laughs.)

With some returning players you get the sense that they’ve been haunted by what happened to them on the first time out, and I don’t get that sense from you. Did you enjoy getting back out there, or did it feel completely different from what it was like the first time?

Yea, both. The first time around it was new and fresh and hard and you didn’t know what was going to be going on around every corner. This time, you know but you don’t. You get out there and you know what’s going to happen, but then you go out there and you’re like ‘oh I remember this,’ and ‘this is really hard,’ and ‘this sucks.’ I remember sitting in the shelter [during the rain] and looking at Jeremy, he just had the worst grimace on his face, and he goes ‘this sucks.’ And I was like ‘yeah, it does.’ He was like ‘was Borneo like this,’ and I was like ‘yeah.’ He was like ‘Nicaragua wasn’t like this at all. We had one day of rain and that was it.’

You mention the conditions, and also how terrible they were back in Borneo. What sort of toll does that take emotionally? What I saw last night was some of the worst weather I’ve seen in a long time.

It was horrible, and while we’re sitting in the shelter we’re of course being like ‘oh, Jeff will wait to have council. He’ll wait until the rain lets up.’ Then it was like ‘nope, we’re going to council.’ We were then like ‘there’s no way Jeff is going to stand out there in the rain like this. He’s not going to make Savage stand out there.’ Every step of the way we were waiting to go in [to tribal council], thinking like ‘is this a new form of torture, a new level of hell the game is putting us through?’. It was terrible and miserable and it took me right back to day nine. We were sitting at council and there was thunder and lightning and torrential rain and hiking through the jungle, hoping trees don’t fall on you. I remember in the shelter that night Sue and I holding onto each other and the corner pole of the the shelter that it was cold and rainy and windy, so bad that we were literally trying to not get knocked down.

You had an interesting story this season in that so many people you were close to kept getting voted off: Vytas, Jeff Varner, you got close to Savage and he was gone. How did you continue to recover from some of these moves?

I just had to keep an open mind and open game. I had to be friends with everybody. With all the swaps and the merges and right off the bat, all of my original alliance was gone. I didn’t have anybody. I just had to keep myself neutral and be mellow, under-the-radar, and be perceived as a number who will vote how you want me to. Every person I was close to got voted out, so I had to adapt and change moment to moment.

Were you surprised at how afraid Stephen seemed to be of you out there, and why was that? Was it because of your game, you winning so many challenges a decade and a half ago, or something else?

That really didn’t come off to my face with him. It was interesting because he was really trying to spearhead a sub-alliance with myself and Kimmi and Joe and Keith, how brilliant that was and how no one would suspect him and Joe working together. Yesterday with my vote-out, the whole day he was pulling me aside and following me around and wanting to talk, and we were like ‘we were good’ and ‘we got this’ and ‘awesome.’ I was really kind of shocked to see he was plotting against me.

He was obviously afraid of me winning, and as we started to get to know each other I would see him constantly making these gasping, surprising statements like ‘Wiglesworth, you’re fantastic under pressure’ and ‘you’re really good at puzzles’ and ‘wow, you really know art and music.’ That kind of thing. I think he was a little surprised. I don’t know if he thought I wouldn’t be smart (laughs), or that I wouldn’t be good at anything other than building things and physical stuff.

Since we didn’t see it on the show, who did you want to go to the end with?

I saw myself going to the end with Joe and Kimmi, or Joe and Keith, or if it was the final two, Joe. (Laughs.)

Why Joe?

I admired him as a player. Over the years having not necessarily seeing the show, but from my personal experience [you tend to see] people who work really hard, bust your butt for the team, and then after the merge all that hard work and effort becomes your downfall. That makes you the enemy. That always sucked to me, especially in this game seeing how hard he played for his team. Seeing him single-handedly win challenges for his team and not going to tribal council because of him, it was then like ‘thanks for getting us further, now we’re going to knock your head off.’ That just sucked. He’s a great guy and a sweet person. My mentality the first time was that I was going to take Richard to the end because everybody hates him, everybody thinks he’s a despicable person. Well guess what? I lost anyway. If I’m going to lose, I’d rather sit next to a great person or a person I really want them to win, too.

Finally, I don’t know if you want to get away from the game after all this, but would you be interested in playing again?

Both. I’m ready to move on and do other things, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to give it another go.

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