‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Castaway Interview: John Cochran


In the “Survivor” pre-game interviews several people said they wanted to win the million dollars, Brandon Hantz said he wanted to clear the Hantz family name, and John Cochran said he wanted to make the show better.

Well, we don’t know who’ll win the money and Brandon is still trying to keep his word. But, one thing’s for sure – Cochran made the show better.

I had a chance to speak to the person I consider to be the most entertaining new player in years the morning after he was eliminated from Redemption Island. We discussed the flip that doomed Savaii, Coach’s winning ways, and how Jeff Probst might’ve gotten him in trouble with his tribe.

Gordon Holmes: Do you prefer John or Cochran?
John Cochran:
I’m still skeptical as to whether or not I’ve earned the “Cochran” moniker. I’ll take John.
Holmes: Does anybody call you John anymore?
Cochran: It’s nice from a branding standpoint that I know people that call me Cochran know me from “Survivor.” All of my friends still call me John.
Holmes: I like that you said, “branding.” I can’t wait to get my Cochran t-shirts and hats.
Cochran: I’m sure people are flocking to get t-shirts of the 8th-place contestant on the 23rd season of a reality show.
Holmes: See, that’s funny to me. You know the exact numbers. Some people try to play it cool like they don’t know. I’m sure you know exactly how many votes were cast against you…
Cochran: I got thirteen votes, which is close to one of the records. I think Phillip (Sheppard) has the record with seventeen and it used to be (Jonathan) Penner with I think fifteen.

Holmes: Let’s talk about your game…
Uh oh…
Holmes: Now c’mon, you made the big move, now you’ve gotta talk about it. I was on the record as saying I didn’t think it was the smartest move. You seem to be a guy that looks at all the angles. What  logic went into make the decision to leave Savaii for Upolu?
Cochran: I don’t think that flipping was fatal to my game in the way that I think a lot of people do. The big turning point for me wasn’t the super cowardice of drawing rocks, the big thing for me was after the “Jack and Jill” challenge where I bombed the challenge by failing to fasten the clip properly, my entire tribe gathered together and told me they were voting me off. That was immediately before the merge. And I thought if any of these people really wanted to go to the end with me, they’re not going to vote me off. And it seemed bizarre to do it right before the merge because that’s when you’d want to get rid of a big threat. So knowing that I was dispensable to people who I thought were my closest allies, that was a big thing that made me want to flip. I would’ve changed things I would’ve done post flip. My big problem is I got complacent. I didn’t do a lot of scrambling or pulling people together. I think flipping is fine, I just didn’t follow up on it well.
Holmes: I have a theory that you threw the “Jack and Jill” challenge so you wouldn’t have to watch “Jack and Jill.”
Cochran: (Laughs) But I love bad movies. Have you ever seen “The Room”?
Holmes: I have.
Cochran: That’s one of my favorite movies. But I didn’t throw it. I have no delusions about being good at challenges. I know I’m horrible. But I’m not the one who fastened the clip improperly. Jim was the one that did it wrong. But I think Jeff’s commentary, when everyone else is blindfolded, all they hear is him saying, “Cochran, who is so inept at everything in the world, fails to manage the rope properly.” And that’s all they hear. That challenge and the aftermath were the turning point.
Holmes: Is that why you called Jeff out on his love of blue shirts?
Cochran: Jeff and I have a bizarre relationship, because I feel like he likes me. But, his line of questioning for me at Tribal Council was always peculiar to me. He’d say, “Keith, how important is it to win immunity?” “Jim, have you given much thought to the hidden immunity idol?” “Cochran, are you a huge loser in the real world? How many bruises have you received being a dodgeball target back at home?”
Holmes: (Laughs)
Cochran: They were oddly personal questions. So, I had to throw it back at him a little bit.
Holmes: Now, I’ve had conversations with all of the members of Savaii as they left the game, and they all said that they never bullied you. Was Jeff Probst bullying you?
Cochran: (Laughs) I don’t think Jeff was bullying me. I think he was fascinated by me. He thought I was bizarre in the way I’d fumble and stumble past Tribal Council every week. But Jeff’s not a bully, he’s a sweetheart.
Holmes: He’s a doll.

Holmes: Coach has a reputation for being kind of a goofball on the show. But in reality, Coach is very smart and personable. Did that realization that, “Oh, he’s not what I expected” help him get you to open up to him?
Absolutely. It was a huge shock. I thought he was a joke coming into this season. I think I called him a lunatic. And he’s a really smart guy. And even more than being a smart guy, I’m guessing you’re going to ask me for one word about each person at the end of this…
Holmes: What gave you that idea?
Cochran: (Laughs) Just my intuition. It’s never served me wrong. Is that an expression?
Holmes: Sounds like one.
Cochran: It’s never led me astray. That’s better. But, beyond being smart, he’s very disarming. Maybe it’s because he has this goofball reputation that you don’t feel threatened by him. I was very impressed. And seeing how he interacted with his tribe. You’d think between the two returning players that Ozzy would command the most respect. But Coach was running the show. He’s a charming, funny, intelligent  guy. They say “Don’t meet you heroes,” but maybe you should meet your villains.

Holmes: Now, I feel terrible catching you off guard, but if I give you the name of someone in the game, could you give me the first word or words that pop into your head?
I haven’t prepared anything for this, so it’ll be off the top of my head…with a few exceptions.
Holmes: Excellent, let’s start with Jim.
Cochran: Cunning.
Holmes: Dawn?
Cochran: Sweetheart.
Holmes: Coach?
Cochran: Disarming.
Holmes: Brandon?
Cochran: Complex.
Holmes: Sophie?
Cochran: Competitive.
Holmes: Keith?
Cochran: Romantic.
Holmes: Whitney?
Cochran: Talented.
Holmes: Albert?
Cochran: Disconcertingly polished.

Holmes: That leads into the next question. Albert seems to be someone who every week tries to get something new started and every week it seems to fizzle and die. Is he as smooth as he thinks he is?
I think he’s playing a good game in that even after all of these failed attempts at changing the game he still seems to be secure. But, I don’t think he’s as smooth as he thinks he is. Even giving me the massage I wasn’t thinking, “Oh wow, this is a gesture of kindness and goodwill.” It was transparent that he was going to vote me off and he wanted me to remember him fondly from the jury. But he’d come up with these plans, and Sophie would say, “No, let’s stick with the plan.”
Holmes: What’s the rest of the Upolu dynamic like?
Cochran: Brandon is an immovable object. It’s impossible to strategize with him. I spent seven hours on a hammock with him trying to woo him. I lent him my beloved sweater vest on multiple occasions. And all for nothing. Edna is a tricky case. She was told on day two that she was number six in that alliance and she was resistant to doing anything until I was voted out.

Holmes: We’re getting ready to unveil the “Survivor” Hall of Fame Class of 2011 next week…
I got like 40 votes! What’s that all about?
Holmes: You got a respectable amount. You should be very proud. Aside from last year’s class; Russell, Boston Rob, Parvati, Sandra, and Richard, who would’ve been your top picks?
Cochran: Todd (Herzog), he played a great game. I think Yul (Kwon) played a great game, granted he had an overpowered immunity idol, but that wasn’t his fault. Cirie (Fields) I think is great. Stephanie Valencia is a given, right?
Holmes: Yes, she’s a very popular choice amongst people from Louisiana.

Holmes: I’m willing to make the argument that you’re the most interesting, polarizing original character since Russell Hantz in Samoa. If they do an all-star “Lawyers vs. Bartenders” season, would you be in?
I absolutely want to play again. It’s this weird, addictive, perverted thing where you’re miserable at the time, and then you reflect on it and you love it. My only fear is the reputation I have. I’ve proven myself to be weak, worthless in challenges, apparently I’m annoying, and I’m a traitor. I don’t think all of those are true, but I’m afraid I’d go into the game and there’d be no reason why people would want to keep me. People would be calling me Sugar 2.0. So, I want to do it, I just need major image rehabilitation.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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