On Friday, Rupert talked to Reality TV World about what his self-described "last-ditch efforts" entailed; if he ever really trusted Russell Hantz; why he had a hard time believing Sandra Diaz-Twine; and how his attempts to empower the Heroes weren't very well received.
Reality TV World: After you were eliminated you commented that you thought you were going to survive that Tribal Council, which was a bit surprising as a viewer. After being so critical of him only a few days earlier, had you really come to trust Russell so much that you really believed he and [Jerri Manthey] would be joining [Colby Donaldson] and yourself in voting for Sandra?
Rupert Boneham: What Colby and I were doing there, we had the chance to get Russell by himself -- the three girls had just gone off to their Reward Challenge with their loved ones -- and Russell was just fuming back at camp.
That's when Colby and I jumped all over that, saying, "You realize Russell those three women are going to eliminate you. As soon as they get Colby out, they're going to get you out. You're not making it to the final Tribal Council. The only way guaranteed you can make it to final Tribal Council is to take Colby and I. You know whole-hearted that we want you there."
It's not that I had such a great alliance or trust with Russell. But it was that last-ditch effort. Just like the rock in my pocket. I'm trying to come up with any kind of anything that can help me make one more day.
Reality TV World: When you made that, "I thought I had this one," comment, were you referring to just surviving that Tribal Council or were you saying that you thought you had the entire season won? It seemed a little unclear.
Rupert Boneham: The entire season. I thought I was going to be able to come back because there were so many times where if my team would have just stayed to the plan we would have been the Heroes in the final Tribal Council instead of having Villains in the final Tribal Council.
I thought I had this whole season. I knew when I was walking into that last Tribal Council that I was probably on borrowed. When I looked into the camera, I really thought this one was mine.
Reality TV World: Why were you so confident that Russell would think it was in his best interest to take both you and Colby to the final Tribal? [Parvati Shallow] and some of the other Villains have repeatedly mentioned that they were absolutely sure that they would lose the jury vote if either of you two made it to the Final 3 with them.
Rupert Boneham: What I was trying to show Russell was, "Look, even these women that you say you're in an alliance with, they don't even take you out to go out with loved ones." It was only Russell and I that had wives and they didn't let anyone of us stay with our wives. "Russell, if they really thought anything about you they would have given that Reward with your wife. That should prove it to you."
Reality TV World: What about the belief that none of the Villains could beat either you or Colby in the final Tribal vote? Do you think that's true?
Rupert Boneham: I was almost banking on it. That's what I told Russell, I looked him right in the eye and said, "Guaranteed, you are my guy in the Final 3. Colby, Russell and I. That's all I want. I don't want any of the other Villains. You're the best Villain out there. If you want to show that you are the toughest and at the top, you take the best with you, right Russell? If you think you really deserve to win this, you should take Colby and I. So align with us and make sure you get there."
It was a long shot.
Reality TV World: Do you think Russell and Jerri would have gone through with the original plan to vote Parvati off if she hadn't won immunity?
Rupert Boneham: I still kind of doubt that. They just would have switched from voting me out to voting Colby out [if I had instead won Immunity].
Reality TV World: Did you ever have any direct discussions with Jerri about the plans to vote Parvati or Sandra off or did you only talk with Russell?
Rupert Boneham: I talked to Russell and I talked to Sandra. Jerri was so against me. I think that still all goes back to when we played All-Stars together. She still hates the shelter that I built that she blames for that she helped build too!
Reality TV World: Your decision to immediately tell Russell about Sandra wanting him out seemed a little surprising given you'd despised Russell only a couple of days earlier and been trying to work with Sandra -- who had been a close ally who was loyal to you to the end when you played Survivor: Pearl Islands -- since the merge. Did you ever consider waiting to see if Sandra had a plan to blindside Russell before you decided to go to him?
Rupert Boneham: One-hundred percent. When I went to Russell and said, "Sandra and the girls are trying to get you out of here," I was going to... That was... Let me think how I can lay this out. When Sandra came to me first and said she wanted to get Russell out, I agreed with her 100%. We went to Tribal Council and she still said she was writing Russell's name down. Of course she wrote mine.
With Sandra, I never really knew where to believe her at. Now with the Tribal Council right before when they voted [Danielle DiLorenzo] out, I had kind of helped perpetuate the fight between Danielle, Parvati and Russell. I was hoping that I could continue that fight and that distrust in the Villains mind where, "See Russell, these women are trying to put you out." I had already exhausted every opportunity with Sandra, trying to convince Sandra to stop siding with him and go up against him.
But last-ditch efforts...
Reality TV World: You were obviously unaware that Sandra had the Hidden Immunity Idol when she approached you about wanting Russell out...
Rupert Boneham: Oh, 100%. When I put the rock in my pocket, I thought the Hidden Immunity Idol was still out there but it was just so well hidden that nobody had found it.
Reality TV World: I'm assuming you would have handled the situation differently if you knew she had it, right?
Rupert Boneham: One-hundred percent. If I would have known Sandra had that Hidden Immunity Idol, I would most-definitely went to her saying, "If you're really serious, this is your time to get Russell out."
Reality TV World: [Candice Woodcock's] decision to side with Russell and vote out [Amanda Kimmel] seemed to signal the end for the Heroes, and Sandra tried to warn Colby and yourself about it but you guys basically brushed her off and suggested she was being paranoid. Did you really have no idea that Candice was considering flipping?
Rupert Boneham: I had no clue. Candice had came to me 100% on our side.
Looking back on it, I realize there were some signs. But when you're out there in the game there's so much going on -- you're so hungry and you're so tired and you're so thirsty and so beat up -- I could not believe that Candice was going to side with Russell. As much as she hated Russell and talked so bad about him, then she went over to side with him? I couldn't believe it.
Reality TV World: In addition to Candice, several other Heroes have said negative things about you during their exit interviews. [Tom Westman and Stephenie LaGrossa] said you had a huge ego and seemed focused on getting rid of anyone that might compete with your own Survivor popularity and Tom and Amanda both said you were focused on "being a Hero" and not very strategic so it was frustrating to try and work with you. What's your response to that?
Rupert Boneham: I have to say, with Tom and Stephanie, we would get back from a challenge and they would be beating up the rest of the tribe for how bad we did. I would look at them and say, "Instead of beating others, instead of blaming others, we need to look at ourselves." People don't like always when they are confronted with the truth.
Tom would look at [James Clement] and say how mean and bullyish he is, but then turn right around and look at me and say, "You know the only reason you're still out here is because we've got you and we're taking care of you." There was a lot of egos out there.
I was going through it with not just one broken bone in one toe, but two broken bones in one toe and the toe they were taping it off to was also broken! So a lot of pain. I was a little shorter tempered but I also tried to be that motivator and that one that empowered us. Some of our team didn't always like that.
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