Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
"I Felt It Was My Job To Be the Stabilizing Influence": An Interview with The Real Gilligan's Island's Professor Pat Abbotby William Ingram -- 12/09/2004
View Printable version of this article
RealityNewsOnline: Hello, Pat. Thanks for doing this interview.
Pat Abbot: You're welcome.
RNO: Were you a fan of the original Gilligan's Island 40 years ago?
Pat: Yes, I was. I really enjoyed all that the show had to offer. It was fun and funny. It was improbable, but real. Even though it was fantasy, the people on the island treated each other with respect and were nice to each other almost all the time.
RNO: Which of the characters did you like best back then?
Pat: Well, of course, I wasn't a professor back then. I think I liked all of the characters about the same.
RNO: What made you want to try out for the show? Did you just show up at an audition for the show or did the producers seek you out?
Pat: I was sitting in my office at San Diego State University one day when the phone rang. It was the producers of the show and they invited me to come to one of their auditions. Apparently, they had found my name on a website. It's called www.ratemyprofessor.com. There, students at various universities rate their professors. The producers were combing through the ratings, looking for well-liked professors and they found my name and called me up.
RNO: What kind of preparations did you make when you found out you'd be on the show? Did you take raft-building lessons? Do you know how to build a bicycle out of coconuts?
Pat: I really didn't need to make any extra preparations. I am a professor of geology, here at SDSU, so I often take my students out on field trips for days or even weeks at a time. We sometimes travel to deserts and other inhospitable locations. That means that I have to be prepared to survive in the wilderness with a bunch of other people and, sometimes, live directly off the land. I figured that going to a tropical island for the show wouldn't be all that much different, except that I wouldn't be able to pack and bring along my own food and water.
But, I did study up on how to build campfires from scratch, how to purify water, and how to hunt down and kill wild game. Even if it turned out that our group did not actually need those skills, I'd still have them just in case. But, it turned out that we really didn't need them. On the show, you've seen that we had water tanks and we were allowed to drink as much as we needed to. We also had as many ration bars as we needed to eat. They were very bland, however, and were made mostly from wheat, shortening, salt, and water.
RNO: If you had plenty to eat, how come Gooner and Nicole seemed on the verge of starvation?
Pat: As I said, the nutrition bars were not very tasty. If you didn't force yourself to eat them, you might starve. Gooner hated those bars and, as a result, he wouldn't eat them, and had a difficult time keeping up his health. Rachel, ever the compassionate woman, tried everything she could think of to help him. The producers did eventually provide some fresh fruit and Rachel made it a personal mandate to see that Gooner regained his health. Gooner very much relished the extra attention (from a gorgeous movie star) and, perhaps, didn't regain his health as fast as he could, if you know what I mean.
One of the largest factors in the game was a positive mental attitude. The Gold team had an overflowing amount of positivity. The Green team did not. They complained a lot and, as a result, their health and mental attitude deteriorated rapidly.
RNO: What was your reaction to finding out that there were seven other castaways and that you'd be competing directly against another professor? What did you think about Professor Eric?
Pat: When I found out about the other team, I experienced a multitude of emotions. I was shocked, surprised, and angry. Since the show started filming at the beginning of August, I had to take leave from my university position for the entire semester and forfeit a half a year's worth of my salary. I would have been very angry if I had been eliminated from the show after maybe two days. No one else was expecting this kind of twist either. I have to hand it to the producers, however, for adding this interesting twist - it ended up being fascinating.
As for Eric, we got along pretty well. I'm 28 years older than him, so we didn't have a lot of things in common. He was just starting out in his career as a professor and I was on the downhill section of mine. But, we are both in the same profession, so we did find plenty to talk about.
RNO: How well did the team dynamics work? As far as I can see, the only benefit to supporting your team was to win a reward as a result of winning a challenge. Otherwise, you really shouldn't have cared very much whose team won each challenge and which person was banished.
Pat: That's true, from a purely strategic point of view. But, the producers did their casting job very well. As I was interviewed, they kept coming back to ask me about my competitiveness. I was part of several basketball and volleyball teams in my youth and competition is very important to me. I assume it was the same for the other castaways. We tried to win every challenge we could simply because we wanted to win. Our team, especially, had a real chemistry that allowed us to win most of the challenges.1 2 Next-->
View Printable version of this article