‘Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites’ interview: Phillip Sheppard

Phillip SheppardWhether you loved him or hated him, there was no way that Phillip Sheppard could be ignored on “Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites.” He was constantly the recipient of plenty of airtime, a centerpiece in the “Stealth R Us” alliance, and pretty much constantly a polarizing figure around camp. However, we do actually think this time around that he played a pretty solid game. He was making moves and trying to be more aggressive, and he was really just eliminated thanks to a huge immunity play by the newly-coined “Three Amigos” alliance.

We had a chance to talk to the Specialist on Thursday, and to say that he held something back would be a bigger lie than Malcolm pretending to not have an immunity idol for most of the season.

Cartermatt.com – I want to start by looking back on what was one of the best moves that you made. When Michael went home last week, were you trying to deliberately antagonize Malcolm into playing an idol, and were your comments directed at him?

Phillip Sheppard – Well, thank you. That’s one of the first times I’ve been asked that question and I appreciate it. What I don’t think people understand is when you have an opportunity to train as a special agent with the defense investigative services, we were trained to do certain types of interviews with people who may not want to share or give information to us. One of the things that you try to do is present information to them in such a way where they feel compelled, or will inadvertently reveal something. When other people are out playing ‘Survivor’ with me they are singing songs that will never make the air, and doing other theatrical things because they’re bored, I’m trying to apply the skills I learned from back in the day as an agent.

What I tried to do at that tribal council was effectively three things. Just as I had done when I threw that challenge, I wanted to make sure that there were no idols coming from the swap that were going to make it back over to the other side, whether it be Matt or Julia or Michael. They had spent all of their time in that situation, as I would have, trying to find an idol to preserve themselves. I wanted to flush the idol then, and in that situation I set Malcolm up beautifully. He stands up, and not only does he reveal for the first time in open air that he is in fact in a very tight alliance, because he’s been telling the Stealth R Us organization that he is still with us and just talking to Reynold and Eddie, with [the other people] by saying ‘hey man, they’re going to vote for me.’ He reveals who he is really: a traitor.

Then, he gets the idol out, and this week we prepare to vote either he or Reynold out of the game. What’s he do? He uses both of his idols to get me out of this game. We’ll see how this works for him. I think with nine people left in the game, playing two idols at this time, it’s foolish. We’ll see how it works out.

I know in ‘Redemption Island’ you were loyal to the people you were closest to, and you were the same here. If you had made it deep into the game, would you have turned your back on [your allies] for people who weren’t necessarily well-liked or viewed as big players?

One of the things that I said at the beginning of the season when I was talking about the ‘BR Rules,’ I quoted Boston Rob and said (literally doing a Boston Rob impression) ‘hey man, you don’t owe anybody anything in this game.’ At that moment we were dancing through the game, I was prepared to do anything that I needed to do in order to win a million dollars.

I wasn’t coming out there to have fun; I came out there to win a million dollars. I thought with the way I was playing, by giving people names again [I was making it] fun and entertaining, and for the people at home I was trying to do that as well … [However,] to answer your question, ideally I would have liked to have been sitting next to Sherri and Dawn. I think I could have made a pretty good argument against those two. Dawn cried a lot, and Sherri flipped, if you will, to come with us. I thought I could have beat her, because I thought I could do a much better job describing how I got there. No one’s asked me this, so I’ll go ahead and say it: going into this game I had the biggest target on me, because I was the only person who had gone the distance and had actually played for 39 days. So to stay for as long as I did, especially since in past seasons of ‘Survivor’ if you’re a person who was out 39 days, you’re gone pretty early [the next time], [I was happy] I made it to the halfway point.

So one last thing: if there a third tour of duty for the Specialist? Would you come back?

One of the hardest things for me about playing ‘Survivor’ is that it’s not an older man’s game. I know we’ve got Bob Crowley, and he won when he was 57. I’ve been blessed with pretty good health, but it takes a toll on me. I had become extremely weak, I had some issues out there, and I came back really sick this time for three months. I love the opportunity to play, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that happens.

A lot of people say they want to play ‘Survivor,’ and for me each time I’ve played Mark Burnett has reached out to me. But I am 55 years old and I want to enjoy a long life, so I’m not sure if I want to have the wear and tear. Each time you play the game, it takes something out of you every time. I’m just glad I got an improved edit. People can look at it how they want to look at it, but I just hope you guys in particular say when you write this story today that Malcolm used two idols to get me out of the game. That tells you that something I was doing was impacting him in such a way that he gave up two idols. That might cost him a million dollars, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Are you going to miss Phillip moving forward? If you want to read our full review of Sunday night’s new episode, you can do so over at the link here.

Photo: CBS

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