Shannon Elizabeth messed up.
The Big Brother superfan had everything a great player needs — she was a comp beast with the ability to strategize and make some big moves without fear. The problem is, Shannon did nothing to hide any of these facts, painting a huge target on her back practically the second she entered the Celebrity Big Brother house.
To make matters worse, the moment things started to not go Shannon's way, the American Pie star broke down rather than pivot her strategy and fight to stay in the game. So how does Shannon feel about her early exit from the Big Brother house? And where does she think the house will go under Omarosa's reign as HOH? TV Guide spoke with the actress-turned-animal activist about what she'd have done differently and why in god's name she chose to spell "responsibilities."
You're a superfan. How did playing the game compare to how you had imagined it would be?
Shannon Elizabeth: I don't know if I ever felt grounded, like I was there. It felt like such a dream. Every day in the beginning it was like, is this real? Are we really here? Is this really the Big Brother house? We kept walking around just staring at everything like, we're really here. Even in the moment, it was hard for me to comprehend that I was really in the Big Brother house because it's pretty cool.
You had said before entering the house that you were hoping to emulate Dr. Will, Evel Dick and Dan Gheesling. Now that it's all said and done, which former houseguest do you think your gameplay most closely resembled?
Elizabeth: Unfortunately, none of them. If anybody, Janelle [Pierzina). And Janelle is one of my favorites, as well, but I think my downfall was Janelle's downfall. She's so strong and she won too many challenges and the minute they could get you out, they did. For me, Dr. Will — Metta [World Peace] is playing Dr. Will's game. He doesn't know it, but he is. And Dan Gheesling, the thing with him, he sat back for half the season and played weak and then he came out swinging. It's just not in my nature to do that. In the beginning, the girls all said, a girl needs to win the first HOH. And if James [Maslow] would have fallen before another girl, I was going to throw it to another girl because I have no problem not winning. I just wanted a girl to win it, so I felt like I was being a team player and helping protect the girls and take one for the team in that sense. And then even with the POV, we said, we can't let the guys take themselves off. We want to get this to keep control. So I said, OK, I won't throw it. I'll try to get a good word. Nobody thought I was playing for the team. They all kept saying, "Well, you're playing for yourself." I'm like, I was playing to protect you guys. The whole plan of how we dealt with the gift bags was to protect them because I was safe that week even if a guy got power. I don't know if they realized how much it was to protect them. Only four girls were vulnerable to get nominated during that gift bag twist if a guy got power. And it wasn't me and Omarosa, we were safe, so the other four girls, I was protecting them. But it's hard if they don't understand the game and some of them, they've never seen the game.
That first Veto comp has already become one of those iconic Big Brother moments that fans are going to be talking about for years because it was so impressive. How do you feel about "responsibilities" becoming this huge Big Brother moment?
Elizabeth: I think it's awesome. [Laughs] If nothing else, I kept thinking — and Marissa had even said it to me — if nothing else, you don't even go further in this game, you have those first two challenges to say, I got to win an HOH. I got to win a Veto. And win them by playing hard. I'm really happy and proud to be able to say I was able to get those and work hard at it. It was a classic game that I was so excited to play. I knew exactly what the rules were and I thought of the word while I was standing out there. It's funny because everybody was looking around the house after that to see if they could find a longer word and we found something in the HOH room that said "responsibilities" on it later. I was like, look, it's actually right here. Maybe it was in my head because I had been HOH and I remembered seeing it, but I don't know. I'm excited.
You were such an intense and competitive player, but then right before you got nominated, it seemed like you just gave up for a bit. Do you regret losing your fight there?
Elizabeth: It wasn't that I gave up. First off, I needed to regroup and try to figure out why they were coming after me because I didn't feel like I had done what they were accusing me of. And so that's my process, is shutting down, taking time to myself and figuring out my next steps. And I needed to try different strategies. And in the very, very end, I knew that every time I talked to them, it was like talking to a brick wall. Nobody was responding to me, nobody was listening to my scenarios. Nobody was changing their minds. I'm not going to keep trying because every time I would talk to one person, it would go around the house to other people. So I'm like, what is the point of me keep throwing out these great scenarios and them not considering them and telling everyone. I suggested breaking up the guys and breaking up the couple so that maybe you'd take Ross [Mathews] out all of the sudden because he would never expect it. He seems to be pulling a lot of strings. He had made a Final 4 behind Brandi [Glanville] and Ari [Gutierrez's] back, and I suggested that and she immediately told him. So I was like, what else am I supposed to do? They're all working together so there's only so much I can do.
At one point, you said that you wouldn't be able to watch and enjoy Big Brother after this experience. Is that still the case?
Elizabeth: No, I don't think so. It's so hard when you're in the middle of it and you're emotional and you're sad and you wish that you had done better. I felt like I was letting myself down and the people around me down. But even just this little time out of the house, I can see it from a different angle now, I appreciate the moments I had in there and I love the game so much, so of course I have to watch it. I'm too big of a fan not to.
Brandi did give you a sympathy vote and now all hell is breaking loose for her. Do you appreciate the gesture or was that too little, too late?
Elizabeth: It makes a difference to me. It didn't change anything on my end. And I think it's great that it's causing havoc in there because they're not going to be able to keep it together. And now that Omarosa is HOH, she's coming after them I think. So it will be a very interesting week to see who goes home on Monday.
Who do you think should be the most worried now that Omarosa's HOH?
Elizabeth: Ross, Marissa [Jaret Winokur] and Aria. She's coming after two of the three of them. That's what I think. When she and I talked about it yesterday, it was between those three. Now, things change in there moment to moment, so who knows, but those three should be worried.
As a superfan, you know that both all-female alliances and large alliances have a tough history in Big Brother, so why did you decide that a large, all-female alliance was the best way for you to start this season?
Elizabeth: The numbers were there. They were given to us by the show, by putting in one more girl than guy. So without us knowing anything about each other, but realizing there's six girls and five guys, that automatically gave us an edge. So right in the beginning, we were like, we need to keep that edge because the guys will pick us off and guys are strong, so let's see if we can be stronger than them. It just made sense. If it started out five and five, it might have been different. It might have gone a whole different way. But in this day and age of female empowerment, it just seemed like a great move.
Keshia Knight Pulliam really didn't have a major side deal with Chuck Liddell, and she and Omarosa were pretty much telling the truth the whole time --
Elizabeth: I don't think so. No. I've talked to a lot of people since coming out of the house and they all said I was right, that there was something going on there, that there were conversations going on. She did go behind our backs. I've talked to people who have been watching the live feeds from Day 1 and they said I was absolutely right about that. And Metta told me last night or the night before that he had told Chuck to go talk to Keshia because Chuck was complaining that no one had come to him to talk game. And Metta asked Keshia "Well, have you talked to any of the guys about aligning?" and she said no. So he sent Chuck to talk to her. So there were conversations and her explanation to the girls after we flipped — I called her out on it. It made no sense and she still couldn't explain — was "Yes, I had a conversation with him but it was to protect the alliance." I go, "Well, that's impossible because we know that the guys made a pact not to nominate each other." That they weren't going after each other. So if Chuck and you had a conversation and he got HOH next week and he's not going after the guys and I assume you made a deal to make sure you and Omarosa were safe if he gets HOH, who's he coming after? The rest of the alliance. That's all that's left. So her explanation doesn't fly. It's absolutely impossible that she could have made a deal with him to protect the alliance because if she did, she would have come to us and said, "OK, I ended up talking to Chuck and this is what was said and this is what he's going to do." If they had pulled me in on the fact that they had talked to him, she specifically asked us, "Nobody in the room talk to any boy and let them know that we may use the Veto. I want to see a surprised look on their face when we use it." And then she went and talked to him. So I still stand by that.
Omarosa accused you and the other girls of being in a "white girl alliance" afterwards. Do you think she genuinely believed race was a factor in the flip or did she have ulterior motives and that was just a low blow in her gameplay?
Elizabeth: I think that's outside of gameplay because you can't jump to something like that when that's not part of the game. Clearly, she and Keshia were in an alliance. They were in an alliance. It had a name [Black Girl Magic] and she still kept saying to me "There's no alliance." I found out the name last night. Do you know the name?
Elizabeth: OK. So, you know, what am I to do? I see there's an alliance there. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I see there's an alliance there and she's lying to me about the alliance. She and I had a deal and I specifically asked her questions I knew the answers to to see if she'd lie to me and she lied to me, so that's why I knew that our thing was over. So for me, it's about gameplay. It's not about anything else. If I see that they have a deal and they're working together, you have to go after them. Period.
This is the third project you did with Marissa. Given your history together, are you surprised that she wasn't more loyal to you?
Elizabeth: Wait, what's the third?
You were both in Scary Movie and did Dancing with the Stars together.
Elizabeth: Oh. [Laughs] We never met in Scary Movie. We only figured it out in the house that we were both in there. And we barely crossed paths in Dancing with the Stars. We knew were were competing against each other but everybody did all the training separately. We only came together on show day, so we barely knew each other. So going into it, I wasn't looking at her as an ally in the beginning. I didn't know what to think of her. We never got to know each other, you know? I'm surprised at her and Ross' behavior, period, because they are gamers and I think there is integrity outside of the game as well because how you act in the game will follow you in your real life. The game is three and a half weeks, a month, it's a moment in time. But you also have to live with what you created outside the house for the rest of your life and how you're seen and perceived. So for me, that was more important. I didn't go in there and lie to people and make stuff up and try to stab people in the back. I was literally flipping the house because they had already flipped on me. They had already done stuff behind our back. It had nothing to do with me trying to be backstabbing. I was trying to save us and get an ally for us rather than leaving an enemy in the house and making their side stronger. I'm like, guys, we caught them in time. If we watch this back later and we knew that they were doing this and we didn't do anything about it, we'd regret that. So that's why we flipped.
Do you respect Ross and Marissa's game because they did whatever it takes to survive, or are just upset at their dishonesty and their dirty gameplay by having two Final 4 deals?
Elizabeth: I haven't watched the show yet and I haven't watched any of the feeds. I'm going by what people have told me. And Ross and Marissa, especially Ross, kept saying, "You'll see when you get out and watch the show that it's not what you think and I did nothing wrong and blah blah blah." Based on what I heard, I don't respect them at all. In fact, what I've heard makes them seem, and Brandi and Ari, it makes them all seem worse than I thought they were. I don't respect the gameplay. The fact that they were attacking me and making me think that I did something I didn't do, making me think I was going out because of something they thought they heard. I don't respect that. You can play a straight game, you make your allies, you find somebody you can be loyal to. You don't go around just telling lies and acting like that because maybe you do that in real life, but I don't.
Celebrity Big Brother airs Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8/7c on CBS.
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