‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: James Clement

There’s been a lot of talk this season about Heroes acting like Villains and Villains acting like Heroes. At the center of that storm is James Clement. The popular grave digger with the WWE-esque physique has come under fire in the past few weeks due to his heated confrontation with recently ousted contestants Stephenie LaGrossa and Tom Westman.

James was able to get the best of those two. Unfortunately, a leg injury suffered during the dreaded Schmergen Brawl challenge managed to get the best of him. James was voted out by the Heroes tribe because they were concerned that he couldn’t compete in physical challenges. I recently spoke with James about his feud with Stephenie, his alliance with Amanda, and the rules of proper banana distribution.

Gordon Holmes: James, were you blindsided when the rest of the Heroes sided with Colby?
James Clement:
Not at all. After the whole race thing with JT on the beach, I kind of realized that something might be wrong.  I do work with a shovel and I do need my legs. It really isn’t an option; it wasn’t worth risking the rest of my life. I said to Rupert and JT, “Forget all this alliance stuff, if y’all think you should keep Colby, then go with him.” And JT, Rupert, and Amanda were like, “This sucks, we don’t want to get rid of you.”

Gordon: You could argue that you’ve been sent out of the game twice due to injuries. Russell Swan who was forced to leave “Survivor: Samoa” due to an injury has said that he’s always going to wonder, “What if?” Is that something that sticks with you?
Kind of, sort of, but not really. I play the game to have fun, I play the game to the best of my abilities. And I’ve never been hurt before. I’m made of glass on “Survivor.” The first time for me ever being in a hospital was in Micronesia. I guess I’m getting old.
Gordon: I think I know what it is. You’re an amazing physical specimen, right? But they point a camera at you and you lose all your powers.
James: (Laughs) For me it’s like my Kryptonite.

Gordon: How important is proper banana distribution to the well being of a tribe?
(Laughs) That’s some (expletive deleted). If you’re hungry, get your own banana. They’re there for a reason. They’re there for everybody. You shouldn’t decide how many bananas one person should eat, nor should one person eat all the bananas.
Gordon: I have a theory that you’re using “Survivor” to land some kind of fruit endorsement. Last time it was “Don’t eat the apple.” This time it’s “Banana distribution.” Is there a future for you as a fruit pitchman?
James: (Laughs) I guess. If they offer me a fruit distribution thing I’ll do whatever, put a bowl of fruit on my head and dance for y’all. Grave digging is kind of rough, so anything else that will help out will be great.
Gordon: I hope this interview can open some doors for you in that respect.

Gordon: The argument you had earlier in the season with Stephenie has changed the way some of the “Survivor” fan base views you. Are you concerned that you’re viewed as a villain now?
James: I love the show, and I like the editing, and I like the way they’ve been portraying me. But if you really pay attention I’m being portrayed as a bully and all I’m saying is “us” and “we” and “teamwork.” You can’t do this yourself, especially in the beginning.
Gordon: And you felt Stephenie, Colby, and Tom weren’t working as part of the team?
James: Those guys are old school. They’re planning for the merge. We don’t know if we’re going to make it to the merge, we don’t know if there’s going to be a merge. So, it’s kind of cool the way they portrayed it. I loved it. It was kind of cool the way they said I was bullying people to work as a team. They want to work on their alliance and I say, “No y’all. The further we get as a team the further we’ll get.” I wanted our team to be so far ahead of the Villains. But we weren’t, so someone obviously wasn’t pulling their rope. And with Stephenie, she wasn’t a rope puller. I’m sure in real life you can just go out and make your mark and be like “Hey, look at me.” But if we all work together it’ll be so much better. You don’t have to stand out in a challenge. I wasn’t holding them down by saying, “Let’s work as a team.”
Gordon: You seem to be embracing a different reputation now, it’s kind of bad a–.
James: The only thing I’m upset about is it kind of hurt my mom’s feelings. (Laughs)
Gordon: Make sure your mom knows that I think you’ve been a pleasure to talk to.
James: (Laughs)

Gordon: Tom wasn’t thrilled with the way you were acting. Was the feeling mutual?
It was kind of upsetting. I thought he was a lot more than he was. It seemed like Tom would be more of a rope puller. But, Tom was out there hustling for himself.

Gordon: You and Amanda are obviously very close. What did it mean to you to have her by your side?
She’s like my rock on the show. Yes, she’s voted me off, but she’s my rock. I need her.

Gordon: We’ve talked about your differences with Stephenie and Tom, but the one competitor who never stepped up to challenge you, but it had been brought up, was Jeff Probst’s niece. Has there been any talk about a race between you two?
That’s a good question! (Laughs) I’ll race her. It’ll be funny. Set it up, we’ll do it. It’ll be fun.

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