ďI Was Playing a Rational GameĒ: An Interview with Survivor: Cook Islandsí Jonathanby David Bloomberg -- 12/08/2006
Jonathan had a reputation for talking a lot on Survivor, and he holds to it in this interview. But here, itís a good thing! Read on to find out his thoughts on strategy, the play of his fellows, mistakes he made, and much more!
RealityNewsOnline: What was your strategy coming into the game?
Jonathan: My strategy was to play harder and faster than anybody else. If a move was going to get made, I wanted to be the one to make it. I did not want to get played. If I was going to think of something, somebody else was going to think of it, so I was going to do it faster. One part of the strategy was my mindset going in. I had thought there were going to be 16, but there were 20. Pretty good odds for winning a million dollars, but I realized I had a 100% chance of having a fantastic time, so I said Iím going to have a ball. I did it for the experience more than the money. I was looking forward to the survival aspects of it. I tried to make the most of every day and play as big a game as I could to really enjoy the experience.
One of the reasons I stepped off the mat, it was an informed decision and maybe it was a mistake, but the mistake was before that. The thing that really let me do that was [the thought of] how often do you get an opportunity to change your fate in a relatively safe and benign situation? I didnít want to hurt anybody, of course, but when somebody says you have a chance to change your fate, it was too irresistible a proposition.
RNO: That leads directly to my next question. Why did you follow Candice in the mutiny?
Jonathan: Candice was my closest ally. I liked her and Yul the most. But Yul was closely aligned with Becky and the two of them were not going to split up. I didnít know he had the idol. I thought Adam had the idol. I knew Yul and Becky had to get split up somehow. This was really my mistake in the game, saying to him something like, ďYou donít have the idol, right,Ē instead of asking him if he had the idol. I heard what I wanted to hear, as I think people do. I didnít really probe deeper and got ahead of myself.
I realized that in the post-merge situation, Candice and I were going to have to go back to our original Raro people, and that was a realization we had soon before the mutiny came up. I didnít know Candice and Adam had a romantic relationship Ė they didnít make it public. I had no intention of stepping off. I said, ďOh crap, there goes my closest ally, sheís heading to the idol.Ē I saw the numbers shifting very quickly and I wanted to be with the numbers. You have to be with the tribe with the most people at the merge, I thought.
Probst made an offer to change your fate. As we went into the game, we had this whole ďMutiny on the BountyĒ thing, and I thought there was going to be some sort of mutiny scenario. Beforehand, I planned to be the Bligh character. I think history has shown, he comes across better. Christian was much more impulsive, emotional, driven by his passions. But in the long run, the guys who followed Christian for the most part got screwed over and died on a rock.
When given the opportunity to do it, I took the opportunity to be more like Christian, which I said I wasnít going to do! I donít know why that is, I played such a careful, deliberate game. I really still did believe I was tight in that Aitu tribe and that Ozzy would have gone next, and then Sundra. I think we would have been a pretty solid foursome. But I saw my closest ally step off, the idol was on the other mat Ė I thought, stupidly. Unfortunately, about four seconds after I stepped off, I thought, ďMoron, youíre the last one on this team. If we lose anything, youíre the first one to go.Ē I beat myself up for a couple days.
The grass was not greener, and it got dirtier and dirtier. They would not work and had no game plan, they were not interested in winning. I couldnít understand it, they kept killing their own people while keeping me. So I thought, ďJust keep your head down.Ē While that was the hardest time for me, it was the most exciting. And I got to act like a provider and show them how to do some things, and really hoped they would turn around. But I couldnít really be too overt.
Nobody would have suspected we would lose four challenges in a row. I have to hand it to Aitu, they kicked our buts. They stayed alive and did what they had to do. The mutiny didnít hurt them, it hurt Candice and me more. Thatís my choice and the bed that we made. But it was a mistake, clearly, and I played an endgame way too soon.
RNO: Before my next question, I just wanted to mention that there are several fans of The Tick on our staff, and they wanted me to bring up your role in the TV show.
Jonathan: I loved doing The Tick! One of the main writers on that was Larry Charles, who did Borat. It was one of the most fun jobs I had. To play a villainous superhero (ďChampionĒ) was like a dream come true. Patrick Warburton and I had worked together on another series. Heís one of the funniest, nicest guys in the world.
RNO: So then, how much of what we saw of you was the real Jonathan and how much was Jonathan the actor?
Jonathan: I guess I canít separate the two of them. I am an actor, have been an actor, though Iím not exclusively one. Iíve really made my living as a writer/producer for the last five years. I think what you saw was what you got. Youíre talking to me now Ė what do you think?
RNO: I donít know, youíre not trying to stab me in the back right now!
Jonathan: I never went out of my way, certainly never took any pleasure in hurting anybodyís feelings. It was always a rational game, a strategic game. I canít just say thatís the only reason I went back to the Aitu, because I always wanted to be aligned with the idol and I saw my best chance of winning with Yul and those guys Ė and I still believe that was my best chance. I never trusted Nate and never believed I could work with them. I was given an opportunity to help affect the outcome of the game. I was an outsider in both fivesomes. I was in a position at that time to help decide which of these foursomes were going to get further in the game. I believe in my decision, if only to be able to say the Aitu four worked so much better as a team. I think I made the right decision. I really would have been much more upset with myself if I had stayed with Raro, gotten the chop, and helped the Raro four move further and been played by them. Then I really would have felt like a schmuck.
Jonathan, continued: This was a game. I think one reason people didnít trust me was I could look them in the eye and enjoy their company in the morning, and vote them out in the evening. It was totally strategic play on my part. I think some of the other players played a much more emotional game and werenít able to differentiate life from game play. Iím not going to deny that what I did must have been very hurtful to them. I wanted to avoid that, but I didnít want to get blindsided and never did get blindsided. I knew how every vote was going to go down, including the one that took me down.
The only vote that was in question was when Jenny was voted out by the bottle. I had guessed what was in the bottle and talked to Adam and Candice, and they said itís got to be Jenny. So when that bottle was revealed and I had guessed it, I knew at the very worst I was going to be in a tiebreaker and I really did believe I could make a fire faster than she could. That was the only question was how that vote was going to go down.
Obviously, I took no pleasure in hurting anybodyís feelings. They were playing an emotional game and I was playing a rational game. And my feelings werenít hurt when I got voted off. Thatís the way it went, whether because they were annoyed with me or perceived me as a threat Ė rightly so Ė I was not just going to let them take me to the final five and say, ďThanks for the ride.Ē I was going to do what it took to stay in the game. They were saying whatever they had to say to stay in the game longer, bless Ďem it worked. Theyíre still in the game and Iím here talking to you. Allís fair in love and war.
RNO: Adam kept attacking you for a supposed lack of integrity. Do you think he really felt that way, or was he just using it as leverage to make himself look better?
Jonathan: I donít know. Iím sure he did feel that way, but itís absurd on the face of it. The guy was having a tough time out there, he was in a very bad spot, his body was shutting down, his body needs a lot of food. He was having physical problems. And I was a target for him. That I lacked integrity and like thereís six good people, itís absurd. Everybody else knew they were going to vote for me and said they were going to vote for him. That was part of the game. He couldnít realize I was playing a different kind of game. To him, that smacked of being a bad person. I hold no grudge against Adam Ė he said or did what he needed to stay in the game. The truth is that one person is going to win and 19 are going to say woulda/coulda/shoulda. I hope whoever wins can acknowledge the luck and know that had the stars aligned differently, it might have turned out differently for them too.
RNO: Some people have suggested that instead of flipping back to Yul, you could have told Yul you were doing that and convinced your Raro allies to vote against Becky instead. Why didnít you?
Jonathan: I would have had enemies of Yul, Sundra, and Ozzy. None of the other Raros trusted me anyway and I would have been helping them. But they didnít believe me when I said, ďWhat if Yul has the idol?Ē I knew I could not work with those people because they were not being rational. I said, ďLetís talk about what if Yul has the idol.Ē [Their response was,] ďYul doesnít have the idol.Ē I did everything in my power and then when I told them the next night that Yul has the idol, they still didnít believe me! I could have danced up and down, but the truth is they didnít believe me, they didnít want to work with me. I was the fifth man in that tribe. Though maybe I was the fifth man with the Aitu people, I didnít believe I could win Ė how far I could get, I didnít know. But if I was in a position to affect the outcome of the game, I was going to make that move. I donít think I would have gone any further if I had made a different move.
RNO: Why do you think your supposed allies fell for the story Adam was giving them?
Jonathan: I donít know, I was on Exile Island for two days. That was the bad luck, I had a lot of good luck and if anybody other than Parvati or Adam had won that challenge, I would not have been exiled. Instead of two days of smack-talking, it would have been me and my wife making nice with everybody. I believe that either Adam or Parvati would be talking to you today.
They had two days to do whatever they needed to do. Iím sure it was some combination of ďwe will not vote for you on the jury [if you donít vote out Jonathan]Ē and ďisnít it nice and peaceful?Ē and ďheís a rotten egg, you cannot trust him.Ē They were right, I would not have been anything but a strategic thorn in the side of those people. Maybe Adam and Parvati can work some magic Ė I donít know how they can. But if youíre alive, youíre alive. They knew if I was in the game, Iíd be making moves, working hard, and probably talking a lot.
RNO: Is there anything else youíd like to tell us about your time on Survivor?
Jonathan: I had a fantastic time, it was a great adventure. That I lasted as long as I did was amazing. That I got the kibosh when I did was not surprising. I donít fault any of the people there for cutting me out Ė I probably would have done it sooner. I look forward to seeing everybody at the reunion.
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