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Exclusive: Russell Swan talks about 'Survivor: Philippines' (Part 1)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/11/2012 

Russell Swan was eliminated from his Survivor: Philippines' Matsing tribe during Wednesday night's fourth episode of the CBS reality series' 25th edition.

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The former Survivor: Samoa castaway was voted out of his tribe at the season's fourth Tribal Council, which was also the fourth elimination vote for Matsing, after tribemates Malcolm Freberg and Denise Stapley banded together to get him out of the game due to the fact they had formed a strong pre-existing alliance and therefore chose to remain loyal to their word and friendship.

In an exclusive interview on Thursday, Russell talked to Reality TV World about his short-lived Survivor: Philippines experience -- including whether he was surprised to be eliminated or saw it coming beforehand, why he decided to attempt to vote off Malcolm instead of Denise, whether he was banking on or hoping for some type of tribal swap or shuffle, and why he's unfortunately still experiencing some pain and hurt.

Below is the first half of Russell's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be the one voted off, or did you go into Tribal Council kind of expecting it?

Russell Swan: I pretty much expected it. I mean, you know, it seemed to be clear to me that there was a "newbie versus returnee" thing kind of going on. So the one advantage you have is you've played the game before -- you're very cognizant of group dynamics.

And when you land on a beach and you see five people walk one direction and you're walking the opposite direction, you kind of get a clue that you're the odd person out.

So I figured that those two, because they had been spending a tremendous amount of time together as we were building the shelter and stuff, it seemed like they were pretty close. And if given the choice between me or either one of them, it would probably be me.

Reality TV World: What made you decide to vote for Malcolm instead of Denise? Because you had been the guy who had seemed to be all about strength, and Malcolm obviously is physically stronger than Denise.

Russell Swan: Well, it had to do with the fact that Malcolm's a great player. I love the way he came in there and played hard, but he's also younger. And because of that, it was much easier to read him as it related to who was the real threat. And, I was assuming that at some point, we're going to get closer to some kind of swap out or whatever.

So, I was trying to look a little bit down the road in terms of who poses a bigger threat, and that definitely -- at the end of the day, if you're still talking about physical Individual [Immunity] Challenges, it would be Malcolm.

And plus, you know, he was a little bit more transparent in terms of his game -- much more so than Denise -- but that was just a factor of age and being able to hide things, which is what we learn to do as we get older. We learn how to lie better.

Reality TV World: So you mean Malcolm was transparent in the fact that you kind of thought if it wasn't going to be you, there was a better chance that Denise would be voting for Malcolm than Malcolm would be voting for Denise?

Russell Swan: No, I wasn't saying that. Like I said, I was looking at it beyond that Tribal -- like who's going to be more of a threat going forward? And Denise was, if I get past that Tribal, then Denise is more the go-along and get-along, because she's just kind of going with the flow. Malcolm was playing a little bit more of an aggressive game.

Reality TV World: You mentioned earlier about a potential tribal swap coming or something. What was going through your mind once your Matsing tribe got down to only three people? Did you guys begin having discussions -- wondering or hoping that some type of a tribal shuffle would happen and that maybe they would go from three tribes to two or at least re-shuffle all the castaways into three new tribes?

Russell Swan: I never talked about any of that stuff with them, but it was definitely something that was going through my mind. It seemed clear that, with having three tribes, it's kind of difficult to maintain a three-tribe format when you're only down to -- at this point -- two people.

So I'm thinking at some point, they're either going to absorb this tribe, they're going to do "Rock, Paper, Scissors," or something's gotta happen. Something's gotta give. They can't do like they've done in years past when they just had two tribes and they just allowed the one tribe to just get decimated down to nothing -- like they did when, I think, [Stephenie LaGrossa] was basically by herself. (Laughs)

So, I just was speculating that something like that was coming around the corner, but I never mentioned it to them nor did they mention that to me. But I suspect that they thought about that and could've been part and parcel in addition to why they -- not only because they had an alliance -- but that could've been part and parcel in terms of why they voted the way they did.

Reality TV World: When Survivor host Jeff Probst asked you to explain why Denise should keep you and vote Malcolm off instead at Tribal on last night's show, you didn't really seem to make that strong a case of why she should do that. Do you feel that was just the editing and you didn't get that vibe while you were actually there in person or what are your thoughts on that?

Russell Swan: Well unfortunately, I can't answer that question only because at the time that was playing out, I was actually talking to some CBS folks trying to get this Skype connection together for this CBS blog that's going to be up at 4PM today. So, they kind of worked this middle-aged man through how to do Skype and [use] video cameras, and I don't do well with that kind of stuff.

So unfortunately, I didn't see that. It was on the TV, but it was background when I was trying to listen and the guy was trying to walk me through these steps. So I pretty much missed from the end of the [Immunity Challenge] to basically the end. It was us trying to work through this problem.

Reality TV World: So what is your reaction to how you were edited into the season overall? Do you think it was fair and accurate or do you have an issue with it? Because it almost seemed like they gave you the edit as the guy who kind of kept talking a big game but never really backed it up.

Russell Swan: Well, how do I feel? Well, you know, that's (laughs) a pretty interesting -- a good question -- but an interesting one, because I have to confess that going into these [post-show] interviews, I was actually disinclined to do them.

Because I, to a certain extent -- even from an intellectual standpoint -- I can completely compartmentalize this thing. It was just a game. It was just a TV show. But it's still me. I'm still a human being, and so, it hurts.

There's a current pain portion associated with all of this stuff that's happened this season, and so, I guess the short answer is, it hurts and I'm still feeling it even though, like I said, on an intellectual level, I can say that it's no big deal. But if I were to say to myself that it's not affecting me, I'd really be severed from reality.

It does have an affect on me and I was worried about these interviews because I didn't want to have these emotional responses, because I was emotional out there. I was putting everything on the line because it meant everything to me -- even too much.

Maybe I put too much emphasis on wanting to do well and wanting to be seen as a hero and wanting to be successful and not go out on my back. So, there's a current psychological thing that I am experiencing and I'm dealing with. And I know in the fullness of time, I will put it in its proper perspective, like I did in Samoa. But I have to confess, I'm not there yet.

Above is the first half of Russell's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.

(Photo credit CBS)


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