Survivor's Rupert: "The Heroes Had No Hope"
And then there was one. Hero Rupert Boneham may have made it to the final 6 and to his 100th day of Survivor, but most of his fellow Heroes fared much worse this season, sending only teammate (Colby Donaldson) to the finale. As one of the last Heroes standing, Rupert says it was his inability to convince the rest of his tribe to distrust Russell Hantz that hurt the team, as well as the Heroes' lack of unity from the get-go. The 45-year-old also spoke with TVGuide.com about Hantz's ranking among the reality show's biggest villains, teammate Colby's poor performance, and his fool-proof plan to faking a hidden immunity idol.
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TVGuide.com: On your last day, Russell and Sandra were competing heavily for your vote. What went into your decision to vote for Sandra?
Rupert Boneham: I thought we had Russell convinced, the same way that I manipulated him into booting Danielle. Colby and I went to Russell, saying, "The girls are not going to take you to the final 3. They are against you. The only way you are staying is with us." And then, Sandra, who did not tell me she had the immunity idol and said she was voting for Russell, I was so beside myself, when we walked into the tribal council, I had no idea what was going to happen. I was just hoping that it was going to be a tie between Sandra and I and we would have to do a re-vote or something. When Sandra pulled out that immunity idol, I had already started to pack.
TVGuide.com: Earlier in the season, you were the only one that believed Sandra when she tried to warn your tribe about Russell. Why were you more cautious about trusting her this time around?
Rupert: When we merged and you see that one little time Sandra comes to us, she was so afraid of Russell that as soon as she heard rustling in the bushes, she took off running and never really opened that door again. I went to my team and said, "We need to look at these villains. They are villains for a reason. You can't believe them." JT was so strong in believing Russell, and Amanda was so strong in believing Parvati, that the Heroes just had no hope. The Villains knew exactly what we were doing.
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TVGuide.com: Why do you think there is only one Hero in the final five?
Rupert: One hundred percent the reason is that even though they were fighting, they were voting together as a team. When the Heroes went into the merge, you never see all five of us voting the same, ever. They couldn't stand together. Even before the merge, the Heroes believed Russell and believed that the girls were evil. And when the girls came over, the Heroes didn't want to hear anything from them. That's why I couldn't make them believe Sandra.
TVGuide.com: One of your best moves in the game was pretending to find the hidden immunity idol. How did you think of that?
Rupert: When we went out, I realized somebody had either already found the immunity idol and isn't saying anything, or that it's so well hidden that nobody has found it yet. That's when I thought, OK, I'm not going to find it right now. Tribal Council is coming. Get a rock that's about the same size and shape, put in your pocket, walk back to camp and lay down. Look confident. Maybe go take a nap. When I walked back into camp, Russell was the first one who saw me and asked, "What are you doing back here?" and I told him, "I stayed out long enough in the jungle to feel comfortable." And I patted my little rock and took a nap.
TVGuide.com: Looking back, what is your take on Russell now, since no one was familiar with him before the season started filming?
Rupert: When I was asked to All-Stars from Pearl Islands, that was back-to-back, and I know they asked me back because I was a hero's hero. That was the same reason why they asked Russell back, because he was a villain's villain. I looked right at my tribe and tried to tell them that [the producers] brought him back for a reason. The guy is rotten. They didn't want to hear it. I believed that Russell was back because he was the biggest villain they had ever seen and now I know that for a fact, he is the biggest villain.
TVGuide.com: Colby is now the last Hero standing, but he has gotten a lot of criticism this season for his poor performance as both a physical player in the challenges and as a social player. What were your thoughts as his teammate?
Rupert: Colby is a great guy. I really like Colby. But I have to say, the reason why Colby is still there is because of James' knee. If James had not gotten hurt, Colby would have been the one going home that day. In some of the challenges, watching Colby be the first one out? It's hard watching that. ... It's different.