Exclusive: James Clement talks about 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'
By Reality TV World staff, 03/26/2010
Although his Heroes tribe was losing challenges and he had upset his fellow castaways with some controversial behavior, James Clement's Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains position seemed extremely secure due to a strong alliance.
However that came to an end when James -- whose Survivor: Micronesia experience had also ended with a Day 31 medical evacuation due to a finger infection -- seriously injured his leg during a Day 12 challenge. While he was still able to convince his allies to keep him and vote off a healthy Tom Westman at their next Tribal Council, he wasn't as lucky when a twist required the Heroes and Villains tribes to both vote off members the next day, resulting in James becoming the seventh returning castaway voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains during Wednesday night's special broadcast.
On Friday, James talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains experience -- including whether he knew he was being voted out, what was actually wrong with his leg, whether he's recovered, why he doesn't feel he owes Stephenie LaGrossa an apology for his controversial behavior, and why he repeatedly deemed both Tom and fellow Heroes tribe member Colby Donaldson to be expendable.
Reality TV World: It wasn't completely clear, but based on some of the comments you made at Tribal Council, it seemed like you knew you were being voted off -- was that the case?
James Clement: I knew the odds were definitely in my favor of getting voted off. So I wanted to kind of point out the obvious, "Ya'll can keep me and I would love to stay here but I understand if ya'll let me go."
Reality TV World: But it wasn't a situation where somebody had already come up to you and told you ahead of time or anything?
JT knows there's life beyond Survivor, Survivor's just a fun thing to do, you know, to pass a month. And he was like "Man, how are you going to work if you keep messing up your knee? You don't know what's wrong with you."
Which held true because I did tear my ACL and I did tear my meniscus and a whole bunch of other stuff I'm still dealing with. So he kind of saved me from myself, he kind of you know, was like, "I know you want to stay here and I know you don't want to leave, but I'm kind of helping you out." And I kind of understood that.
Reality TV World: So you kind of had a pretty good idea you were going but he stopped short of telling you outright?
Reality TV World: How's the leg now? It sounds like there were some real severe injuries in there.
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James Clement: Well it didn't heal right so I'm going to have to get surgery again to figure out what's going on with this thing. I don't know, I guess I'm getting old. On TV, it's kind of crazy, I've never been injured before in my life. I've got to get surgery on it again, there's still something going on with it.
Reality TV World: So what happened after you got voted off, were you taken to the hospital right away?
James Clement: Yeah, went to the hospital and had surgery like a week later and been in rehab. Yeah, we did surgery and tried to fix it but it didn't fix it.
Reality TV World: So you really didn't get to enjoy your Loser Lodge time with everybody else or anything, huh?
James Clement: (laughs) Not so much. I kind of enjoyed my Loser Lodge time a little bit better in a nice hotel. A little bit better. I mean yeah, the Ponderosa is nice, but the resorts are nicer. I enjoyed my time doing that.
Reality TV World: I need to ask you about your verbal attacks on Stephenie. I know you've basically claimed ignorance that you were doing anything wrong, but looking back at it now, do you understand why so many viewers and some of the other castaways were so upset?
I mean I recently realized that I do have tone issues and that maybe I do come across as being aggressive but if they truly listened to what I was saying, I've never heard a renegade or rebel or a wild person talk about working as a team -- having one voice and focusing on a task.
So if they misinterpreted [things] by my mannerisms, hey, that's them. I mean I would love (unintelligible) that, but I also don't want to tuck tail, I also don't want anyone to take advantage of me because they have a nice and sweeter voice and they're talking equally as aggressive.
Just because my voice was a little bit different and deeper and carries a little bit more and her voice is a whole lot more sweeter -- she was maybe attacking me a little bit more than I was attacking her. So all I was saying is "Hey babe, I understand blah, blah, blah -- let's work as a team, let's pull this all together right now."
And she just wasn't having it.
Reality TV World: So you don't think you have anything to apologize for at all?
Reality TV World: A lot of viewers feel your comment about Colby's poor performance being like finding out your "Superman sucks" was pretty ironic because that's how they felt after seeing the way you acted when you came back this season. Have you felt any of that reaction personally, has there been a change in the way people treat you when they run into you?
James Clement: Ha! I kind of like it though, I kind of like this whole television thing the way they edit it. I mean they edited me to be a bully talking about teamwork and working together. I love TV! And I love the way you can take things any way you wanted.
You know, [from] my aspect I'm good. The only thing I'm kind of upset about is my momma. Poor thing, she's just catching all kinds of grief. Her poor little baby is looked at like a little mean animal and she doesn't like it too much.
But like I told her, "It's television Momma!" I explained to her that it's kinda -- tried to ease her pain a little bit. So me, myself personally, I love it! It's television, it's great. It's great editing. I love the show. Survivor gives and Survivor takes away.
So you can -- I mean, I don't know what to say. Good times. I love my edit. You know, I like the way they casted me as being aggressive and being a bully. You know?
Reality TV World: So you're happy being perceived as a bully?
James Clement: I'm not happy being perceived as bully -- I mean it's like I love the way they made it look as about being a bully. Where if they had just listened to my words -- actually listened to what I was saying -- it was obvious I was trying to say, "Let's work as a team and do this together." And not trying to say, "I said do this" and "I said do that." I was saying, "Listen please do this," and "Let's do that."
Once again, it's really a tone thing. And I mean and I understand maybe with this whole "social thing" I do have to talk softer but I mean how soft can I talk, it's my voice. That's why I only deal with my people, and only deal with people who understand that I would never be cruel. I'm not cruel. You know, I'm not mean, I'm not that guy. I'm not a bully.
So, you know, I'm not -- it's just who I am. And they edited it the way they edited it and it was great, I just liked the way they did it. but I'm going to continue to be me and I'm going to continue to say what I stand for. It might come across as being aggressive but that's not what I'm trying to be.
Reality TV World: How much further do you think you would have been able to go if you hadn't been injured -- what was your gameplan going to be, were yourself and [Amanda Kimmel] planning on trying to team back up with [Parvati Shallow] once the merge happened or what was going to go on?
James Clement: I mean like I've said before, I'm tired of being Charlie Brown [to their Lucy's]. So to put all my eggs in the girls' baskets again for them to get me again would kind of be unlikely. You know sometimes you can't really say what you are going to do unless you're there, you know, and I just happened to not make it there.
My plans were just to do what I do. Get towards the merge, figure out what I can do, and do the best that I could. With whoever I could be with.
Reality TV World: But not necessarily Amanda?
James Clement: Parvati. I mean if that was the best thing for me at the time I would have done it, but you know you can't really be that stringent on your moves. You can't really, especially in this game. You can't really say who you're going to align with because you don't know what they're thinking.
You don't know what those girls are thinking, they've already gotten rid of me twice! Why would I do it again?
Reality TV World: Do you think Colby honored his pledge to not do any campaigning or do you think he played some role in Amanda, JT and Rupert deciding they needed to vote you off?
James Clement: Yeah, he helped it. I mean, and that was the most upsetting thing, because it was like this weird passive-aggressive stuff. He wasn't trying during challenges, he wasn't trying -- and I'm not even saying win, I'm not saying he was supposed to make us win, like he was supposed to pull it through in the end and I was upset with him because we weren't winning.
I was upset because he wasn't playing as a team. I was upset because he wasn't pulling the rope at camp, you know? I was like not really upset, kind of more let down. I wasn't mad, my feelings were hurt. I was like "Really dude, come on just help us! Whatever you're doing is wrong!"
So yeah, he was politicking in that weird passive-aggressive stuff. And [Candice Woodcock] was helping him as well because she was on the bottom of the totem pole, she kind of had to do her thing too to boost her own self up.
Yeah, there was some politicking going on.
Reality TV World: I know you did everything you could to convince everyone otherwise at the time, but how much did the leg bother you while you were out there? Was there any pain at all?
James Clement: It honestly didn't hurt at all. Like when I ran on the beach I did see some lightning bolts going like across my eyes like a cartoon. (laughs)
But besides that I was good, I just couldn't walk on it. I don't know what -- it didn't swell up, it never really aggravated me at all, I just couldn't walk on it.
Reality TV World: When you were at the Tribal Council where Tom played the idol and [Cirie Fields] ended up going instead, you had insisted you were going to base your vote on what would win challenges and then you went still ahead and voted for Colby anyways. Was that because you really thought Colby was worse than Cirie and Candice or were you just lying and not willing to own up to your alliance like [Rupert Boneham]?
James Clement: Like what I said earlier, it don't matter how great an athlete you are individually, at certain points you have to be a teammate. And at certain points you have to realize that -- guy-wise, we were great.
Rupert, myself and JT and Colby at the time or whoever, we could lose Colby at that time. Because girl-wise, Cirie was one of the more dominant girls. Candice was one of the more dominant women. So it would help the team out. We could lose a guy because they weren't pulling the ropes.
They weren't doing what they had to do to make the team better. So why keep them around, just for small talk? The small talk wasn't that good!
So in order for us to win and in order for us to be better it's going to take more than just strength on the guys' way, because I was stronger than both of them and faster than both of them as well. JT equals out. He could swim just as well as Colby can. So everyone was balanced with one of those guys being gone.
Reality TV World: What about Tom? When Tom got voted off you said if they felt Tom was more valuable than you to vote you off. Did you really still think you were better than Tom even with a bad leg?
James Clement: Yeah, because I did whatever I could as a teammate. Around camp, I pulled rope. In challenges, I did what I had to do. Tom was willy-nilly. Tom wanted to be Tom and blah, blah, blah.
He really wasn't trying to work as a team. At all. In my eyes, and everybody else's eyes as well because they kept a dude who was limping and obviously couldn't walk over a guy who was perfectly healthy. Not that fact that the physical thing --- because once again, physically we were all right. We still had Rupert, we still had JT and they did have me in other ways, you know?
So team-wise, for cohesion, it was like they always say about [NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens]. "Great athlete, super dude. Do good, work hard." But something about when he's there they say that he makes the team lose. He does stuff that makes the team lose, which I don't agree with, but they say that about him. It was kind of that way.
[Tom] was like the wrench in the spoke, he just clogged up everything. He just wasn't trying to work as a team, he wasn't trying to work together.