by Gina Scarpa
Love him or hate him, Russell Hantz from Survivor: Samoa will go down as one of the most memorable players of all time. On last night’s season finale, he sat smugly in the final tribal council, next to Natalie White and Mick Trimming, convinced that he would walk away with the title of Sole Survivor. When the votes were read, and Natalie was named the winner, the look of shock and hurt was painted all over his face. Today, Russell spoke to RealityWanted about how he felt during last night’s reunion show, what he thinks of the jury, and what he has to say to his fans and his critics.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: You’ve been a fan of the show for quite some time. Was this your first season trying out?
A. Russell: This was the first time I tried out. At first, they didn’t like me and said I wasn’t made for the show. I knew once I got to California, I knew that I could convince them to put me on the show.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Did you do anything to prepare yourself before going into the game?
A. Russell: All I knew was that I was going to starve out there. I went in out of shape and wasn’t prepared for the challenges. They’re way harder than it seems especially when your mind tells you you’re still that athlete in school and your 37 year old body says, “No you’re not!”
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: You seemed to handle the conditions of being out there very well while other people cracked under the pressure. How did you stay so focused?
A. Russell: I just stayed in the zone. It’s weird. I was able to stay focused out there. It was an amazing thing to me. I just kept concentrating on the task at hand and going over it in my head.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: One of the best things you did this season was find hidden immunity idols without a clue. Did you plan to do that or did the idea strike you while you were there?
A. Russell: I’m one of the guys that hollering at the tv saying, “Why aren’t you looking for the idol? It’s gotta be somewhere around there!” They have to explain it somehow. I started looking for it from day 1. At the same time, I was aligning myself immediately. That’s one thing I wanted to do. I want to immediately get to somebody before somebody else got to them. It was a race.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Shambo said in her interview that she would’ve stayed loyal to you to the end. Do you think taking Jaison or Shambo to the end would’ve been a better move for you? It seems like the jury thought so.
A. Russell: They’re full of crap! I wouldn’t have beaten anybody. Last night, when they put their hands up… they showed the world that they were bitter. They were probably the most bitter jury ever. I was able to control them because they were that weak and that was good but me putting them on the jury, that weak, was bad for me.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: As Jeff Probst pointed out last night, you were visibly upset throughout the reunion. What was going through your mind and where was that emotion coming from?
A. Russell: I had a good clue that I didn’t win but when I heard it, it sank into me. I said, “Wow, I really didn’t win this thing.” It showed… if you watch me… I’m not an actor. I’m not there for the money. I’m really into this game. I wanted the title of Sole Survivor. It sunk into me and it broke my heart. It was weird.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: You must’ve felt better when you were named Survivor Player of the Season by America.
A. Russell: Oh yes! They were saying that I’m the best Survivor out there. To me, it’s not as much money but it’s better than 12 people saying you are when millions saying you are.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What are your thoughts on how you played the game?
A. Russell: I wouldn’t change anything I did. I heard Jenna Morasca say once that nobody remembers second place but I though to myself, “My season, I can guarantee you that, 20 years from now, nobody will remember the winner.”
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What are you going to do now?
A. Russell: I handed over 10% of my company so my brother would move down from North Carolina to start running it. I’ll be involved but I think that I want to have more fun. It’s an interesting thing. I might even move to L.A., or near it at least, and stay here for 6 months or so and do little things here and there.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Do you have anything to say to your fans or your critics?
A. Russell: I expected them to criticize me and I should’ve but I kept thinking, “Just keep watching. You’re gonna understand what I’m doing." Now, they love me. It’s crazy!
Red Carpet Interview with Russell Hantz
Check out RealityWanted’s YouTube page for videos from the Survivor: Samoa finale in Los Angeles!
(Image courtesy of CBS)
Survivor: Samoa - Exclusive Interview with Winner Natalie White
Survivor: Samoa - Finale Recap
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For more Survivor: Samoa links, visit SirLinksALot.net