‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Rupert Boneham

OK, I’ve got a confession to make…

I’ve never been a Rupert fan.

With the exception of his hilarious shoe-selling maneuver at the beginning of “Pearl Islands,” I’ve never seen his appeal. I never thought much of his game play, I never liked how brutish he was toward Jonny Fairplay after he thought he had voted for him, and I never bought into his good-guy image.

And quite frankly, the beginning of “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains” was proving me right. His injured toe made him a grump around camp, his inability to make fire made him appear useless, and sticking with James seemed to go against the Heroes mindset.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to tribal. He saw right through Russell when he arrived at the Heroes camp, he cleverly tricked the Villains into thinking he had an immunity idol, and he competed with all his heart to try to win immunity (while Colby would quit).

And as for his good-guy image? What follows is my second-ever interview (you can read the first one here) with the man many consider to be the most popular Survivor ever, and I truly believe that what you see is what you get with him. He’s a good-natured guy with an upbeat attitude who feels blessed to do what he loves.

Am I becoming a Rupert fan? Maybe a little. I’ll wait to see how he does in “Survivor 30” before deciding.

Gordon Holmes: Let’s get this out of the way immediately, you didn’t believe for a second that Russell was going to side with you and Colby, did you?
Rupert Boneham:
I was sure hopeful, and I wanted Russell to believe that I believed him, but no. I looked at Colby right afterward and I said, “You know it’s still just you and I.”

Gordon: So, I take it you don’t have the highest opinion of Russell?
Russell is one of the most evil people I have ever met. He is the epitome of the manipulative, self-centered kind of guy who just looks at people for what he can get out of them. I tried to show them that when you use people to get to the top that you’re still never going to be a winner.

Gordon: Last episode was a family visit episode. You were very emotional when you got to see your wife, Laura. What does it mean to have her out there during such an intense game?
I was crying just watching the video and thinking about her being there. This is the first anniversary that we haven’t spent together, so that was like our anniversary celebration. That was a big deal. I have to say, even though it’s only thirty days it feels like a lifetime because of all the craziness going on. Everything is intensified.
Gordon: Laura’s been out there twice to visit you, when are we going to see her as a contestant on the show?
Rupert: (Laughs) I don’t know that Laura will ever be a contestant. We’ve talked about being on “The Amazing Race” but the “Family Survivor?” My wife and daughter would not really be too happy to be out there playing “Survivor.”

Gordon: There’s been a lot of talk this season about Heroes acting like Villains and Villains acting like Heroes and you haven’t been immune to that. There were some things that you did that could be considered villainous, such as sticking with James and JT early in the game. Did you worry that your moves could tarnish your reputation as one of “Survivor’s” biggest heroes?
If you go out there as a complete good guy you’re not going to win the game. But you have to show that you don’t have to be such an evil villain. It does matter how you treat yourself and the people around you. And when you’re using and manipulating everyone, of course you’re going to be seen as a villain. But, I’m no angel. I went to some people and said, “They’re coming to get you.” That’s part of the game.

Gordon: How much of an affect did your broken toe have on your ability to play the game?
I finally found out after I was voted out, it wasn’t just one broken bone in my toe, it was two broken bones in my toe, and the toe we were taping it off to was broken also! I am out of my mind in pain every day on “Survivor.” When my toe was looking back at me, and I straightened it and taped it off to another broken toe, I was in more pain than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
Gordon: Was it affecting your mood around camp?
Rupert: Even my daughter when she’s watching it on TV says, “Oh Dad, you looked a little mad last night.” And I told her, it’s not that I’m mad, I’m just in pain. I’m a little shorter with my “Survivor” cast mates. The pain in my toe definitely affected my attitude.

Gordon: Last week when your rock-in-the-shorts gamble worked. How many high fives and fist bumps were exchanged around the Boneham household?
(Laughs) Oh my God! My wife and daughter were so proud of me. And they never showed it, but I never said I had the hidden immunity idol. I wasn’t being a big liar about it. But I made sure everyone saw the big rock in my pocket. That was a great moment in our household.

Gordon: OK, let’s do some word association. Let’s start with Jerri.
Mean cougar.
Gordon: Colby?
Rupert: I want to say good guy, but I’ll say good soft guy. Cause he was kinda soft.
Gordon: James?
Rupert: Toughest man I’ve ever met.
Gordon: Amanda?
Rupert: Sweetest Survivor in history.
Gordon: Parvati?
Rupert: A little girl who’s used to batting her eyes and getting what she wants.
Gordon: Danielle?
Rupert: Glad she was gone before me.
Gordon: Sandra?
Rupert: Not what you think.
Gordon: JT?
Rupert: Silly…silliest move ever!
Gordon: And your buddy Russell?
Rupert: Evil…pure evil.

Gordon: We talked earlier about your reputation, and a lot of that ties into your Rupert’s Kids charity, what do you hope your kids learn from your performance on “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains?”
That I’m still tough. I’m 46 years old, but I’m still the tough guy on “Survivor” and it still counts how you play the game. My kids love seeing that

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