The 15 new players — including Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and former National League baseball MVP Jeff Kent — competing this fall on Survivor: Philippines were announced on Monday. And now we can reveal the three previously medically evacuated players that are returning to play alongside them: Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan — each of whom was evacuated in episode 6 of his season.
Skupin was the star of one of the grisliest scenes in reality TV history when he fell into his tribe’s fire on Survivor: The Australian Outback in 2001. The image of Skupin’s skin melting off his hands is about as gnarly as it gets, yet it took 11 years for him to be invited back onto the show. “For 22 seasons, I’ve thought about playing this game again,” the 50-year-old Skupin told EW.com while on location in the Caramoan Islands the day before filming commenced, but he is not looking at this outing as a shot at redemption. “I’m not here because I fell in the fire or to prove to the world anything,” he says. “I’m here to play the game again, from start to finish. This will be a whole new adventure for me.”
Jonathan Penner, also 50, did play the game without being evacuated back in Survivor: Cook Islands, but then in his second outing (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs Favorites), he was forced out by an infected knee. As for his approach this time around, it involved lots of bulking up. “I’ve been eating like a horse intentionally for this show,” Penner told EW.com before the game began. “Some of these guys come out and they want to look all buffed out for the beginning of the show. I’m going to come out looking like a fat slob, because 39 days is a lot of weight to lose. If I lose a pound a day I’m going to be my fighting weight. I’ll be 170 pounds. Right now I’m coming in at a chart-topping 210 — chubby.”
For many — including host Jeff Probst — Russell Swan’s exit from Survivor: Samoa was the scariest Survivor moment ever, as dehydration caused Swan’s eyes to roll back in his head as he lost consciousness. “That situation broke me,” the 45-year-old Swan told EW.com while on location. “I’ve had challenges in my life before, but nothing like that. It challenged the very core of who I was. I always thought, if nothing else, I can always depend on my physical prowess. And after eight applications, waiting 10 years, I finally get on the show only to get carried out on my back. Worst thing I could have ever imagined.”
Now he — along with Skupin and Penner — will get another shot at the million dollars when Survivor: Philippines premieres Sept. 19 on CBS. To see an exclusive video with all three returning players — as well as all the other cast interviews — click on the video below. (The complete tribe listings are below the video player.) And for more Survivor news and goodies all season long, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
The full cast of Survivor: Philippines:
Los Angeles, CA
Previous Seasons: Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Micronesia
Previous Finishes: Survivor: Cook Islands – 14th out, 6th jury member. Survivor: Micronesia – medical evacuation due to knee infection.
Silver Spring, Md.
Former Miss Delaware
Former baseball MVP
Professional speaker, author and coach
White Lake, Mich.
Previous Season: Survivor: The Australian Outback
Previous Finish: Medical Evacuation due to severe burns received after passing out into a fire from smoke inhalation
Los Angeles, Calif.
Roberta “R.C.” Saint-Armour
New York, N.Y.
Terry Town, La.
Former “Facts of Life” Actress
Previous Season: Survivor: Samoa
Previous Finish: Medical evacuation due to Dehydration
Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Roxanne “Roxy” Morris
Cedar Rapids, Iowa