Grant Mattos: Real emotions and feelings are involved in 'Survivor'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/19/2011
Grant Mattos was convinced Survivor: Redemption Island winner "Boston Rob" Mariano was going to take him to the final three since they had developed a very strong bond throughout the game, but like most of Rob's original Ometepe alliance, he was blindsided.
Grant then duked it out in Survivor: Redemption Island's four-person battle, but he came up short of being able to rejoin the game and resume competing for one million dollars after he was the first castaway eliminated from the final duel during Sunday night's CBS broadcast of the reality competition's finale.
During a conference call with reporters on Monday, Reality TV World asked the 29-year-old yoga instructor and former NFL football player from West Hollywood, CA, about his Survivor: Redemption Island experience -- including whether he envisioned the possibility that both Rob and Phillip Sheppard had betrayed him, why he felt the other Ometepe members in Rob's tight-knit alliance would be voted out before him, and what sparked Grant's emotions during the live reunion show.
Reality TV World: The show made it look like you didn't envision the possibility that both Rob and Phillip had both betrayed you. Was that actually the case?
Grant Mattos: Yeah, initially I had actually thought it was Phillip, and then in the back of my mind it might have been Rob, but in the end, it doesn't really matter.
What matters is my experience [and] I enjoyed it thoroughly out there, and it was just tough to think you had a strong relationship with somebody that might have been completely different.
Thirty-six days is a long time together with everyone, and relationships are formed, and whether you went out there to make friends or not, it's a fact that real emotions and feelings are involved.
Reality TV World: Could you explain how you could never not talk to anyone else and discover that they also had an alliance with Rob?
Grant Mattos: Well, no, we always knew that. Our group was tight. We were all pretty tight, and you just have to put your faith in an agreement that you make with somebody at the very beginning of the game, and that's what I did. I stuck by it and my experience was a result of that, and it was a wonderful one.
Reality TV World: You seemed to get a little emotional during the live reunion show when Survivor host Jeff Probst was asking you about what was going on. It sounds like you just felt then that you had a closer relationship with Rob than the other folks in your tribe?
Grant Mattos: Yeah, I think people in my tribe would attest to that. We developed a pretty good relationship and that's what makes it difficult -- at least for myself -- and where do you draw the line between when everybody likes to call it a game and what becomes real life.
Also in the call, Grant told reporters what the driving force was behind his blind trust in Rob, whether he ever suspected that Rob had found a hidden Immunity Idol, and why he referred to Survivor: Redemption Island as a "beautiful curse."
Can you talk about your vote and what your final decision was based on?
Grant Mattos: My decision and my vote was for Rob just because of the overall game that he played. He played a fantastic game and my hat was off to him. I congratulated him afterwards and that's purely what it was based on.
Why did you trust Rob so much the entire game knowing that he would probably turn on you?
Grant Mattos: Well, as you saw by watching it, he made promises to everyone in the beginning and each one of us thinking it was -- it was just something he did with each one of us.
Obviously there comes a lot of experience with the amount of times he's played and the games that need to be played in order to get far, I guess, in this game. There was just a level of trust that we wanted to believe was individual and unique for each one of us, I think.
Did you ever suspect that Rob already had the idol, especially when you were in on the clues with him and such?
Grant Mattos: Of course. Things like that go through the back of your mind while playing with many other possible scenarios that could happen, but you know, you just put your faith in the people that you've made alliances with that they're being honest with you. So, you gotta either choose one way -- you can either be paranoid the entire game or just trust that you've got a good crew with you.
Since you were a physical threat and had a likeable personality, do you think you would have been tough competition if you made it to the final three for the other two members?
Grant Mattos: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It's just, you gotta get there first right?
Was Phillip any easier to deal with and stand outside of the game than in it?
Grant Mattos: (Laughs) Yeah, no. I think Phillip is who he is. It's well represented on the show too. I don't think there's a split personality. That is Phillip Sheppard if that is even his real name.
On the show, you seemed somewhat okay with how Rob and the other Ometepe members had blindsided you. What happened between the time you spent on Redemption Island to the live reunion special after the finale that changed your feelings?
Grant Mattos: The beautiful thing about Survivor is that you actually get to watch all the things that you didn't know were happening behind your back. It's a beautiful curse, so to speak. There was a game being played by Rob that I didn't -- I wasn't aware of out there, and there was an awesome relationship I felt being formed out there.
I think most viewers could tell as the show went on that that was the case. It's tough because you think one thing's happening and then another is actually going on. So, that's what made it a little difficult to watch and what makes it hard to just cop out and say like I said last night, that it's just a game.
And where is the line drawn from becoming actual -- this is real life, there are real emotions, there are real relationships formed while playing.
You said in your final words that there were gifts out there. What gifts were you referring to?
Grant Mattos: Many of them were just from a self-exploration standpoint of getting to know yourself so well based on the extreme situations that you're in.
It's a beautiful gift to be able to have participated in this gameSurvivor, and to be able to truly be open to see the things beyond just a million dollars -- that if you are willing to see and willing to dive a little bit inside yourself and get to know what's really important in your life and what you hold dear -- I think it's a beautiful gift. A beautiful gift.
What work had you done on yourself during the game as you mentioned in your final words?
Grant Mattos: Well I think anything referring to working on myself is literally just that -- is getting to know yourself as best you can in this life, and asking yourself the tough questions that you may not want to hear the answers to, and continually growing throughout this life. and just taking responsibility for the choices that you make, you know?
What are the chances of you remaining friends with Rob?
Grant Mattos: The future is always open. I'm not a closed off individual by any means. I don't know what the future holds, and I'm open to what it may carry with it. So, there's always a possibility for anything.