SPOILER ALERT Stop reading now if you don’t want to know who got elminated from last night’s episode of Survivor. Click below to read a chat with the recently-booted castaway:
The Specialist himself, Phillip Sheppard, got the boot on Survivor last night thanks to Malcolm’s jaw-dropping double-immunity idol stunt, which turned the tables on the Stealth-R-Us alliance and cut their leader out of the game. (Read Jessica Shaw’s recap of the craziness here.)
Sheppard called the EW office this morning to discuss his Survivor journey, his decision to sit out last night’s immunity challenge, and his thoughts on Malcolm’s blindside game-changer. We also asked the Specialist what he thought of Corinne Kaplan calling him a “living miscarriage” two weeks ago. You can bet he had something to say.
Check out the full chat below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, how are you feeling today?
PHILLIP SHEPPARD: I’m feeling absolutely awesome. You know, I had a great time playing this season, and to be 55 years old, enjoying the health that I’ve enjoyed in my life, and to have an opportunity to play Survivor again as the Specialist and bring back Stealth-R-Us, I mean, how can I feel anything but wonderful?
Did you come to Caramoan with a different strategy than the one you employed on Redemption Island?
Well, let’s put it this way: The first time I played, I had 17 votes cast against me, which is a Survivor record as far as anyone making the final three. How many votes did I have cast against me before last night? One, by Brandon Hantz. So I think, whether you perceived it or not, I definitely played a different game. I was able to be much more physically strong in challenges. Until the swap, I owned it. I was the one carrying our tribe. Mentally, I played a different game. You heard me a lot of times speaking about what I called the B.R. rules. That was to demonstrate that, though everybody thought I was “the wacky former federal agent” playing the first time — they didn’t understand how I was playing — I also took very good notes. I never spoke to Boston Rob about the rules themselves, so that’s what I observed, and I wanted to show by playing this time that, in fact, I paid attention. So I came out there, I immediately established an alliance with Andrea, Dawn, Cochran, Corinne, and I tried with Eric. The very first words he said to me on the beach were, “Hey man, my entire family told me not to trust you.” That was the first thing, not, “Hi, how are you?”
Did you talk with Boston Rob before heading to the jungle?
I didn’t talk to him. I saw him in LA once when he flew out here for a visit. Occasionally we’ll text each other like, “Hey, how’s it going? How are you and the family? Congrats on the show.” Things like that. But no, we did not have any conversations like, “Hey, Phillip, this is how you should play.” Nothing like that whatsoever. He sent me a text last night saying him and Amber really enjoyed this season, that I was very entertaining, that I was the guy in terms of entertainment value this season, stuff like that. But people thought that I was trying to be Boston Rob. I’m 55 years old. I’m not 35 years old. I wasn’t trying to be him. I was just trying to demonstrate — If I played basketball with Kobe over the weekend, and he said, “You’ve got to do a crossover move like this,” I wanted to show that I’d paid attention to what I saw him do out there. That’s all that was, really.
Let’s talk about last night. Do you still feel okay about skipping the immunity challenge?
Yes I do. I explained what the circumstance were, but that morning, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. That challenge was — you saw how many times they did, and I just really didn’t have it within me to do it. As I said during the game, as a boy I had to experience something so overwhelming, but my exit had nothing to do with that challenge. Others may look at it that way, but to be 55 — I was 54 in that game — I just didn’t have it in me to do that. You saw people that were great swimmers like Brenda – and Malcolm didn’t even get out of the water, by the way. To give you an idea of how hard that challenge was, when Reynold won it, Malcolm was still in the water.
So do you think you would have even been competitive?
No, not even close to competitive. I would have been dead last. You saw the last water challenge where I held my breath under the water. I was the first one out on that.
Your fellow alliance often laughed you off in their confessionals, but from what we saw, you were kind of running the show out there. Did you feel that way?
Oh, I was leading it. I absolutely was leading it from the standpoint that my voice was being heard. Andrea and I were in a very tight alliance in the game.
Did you have a particularly close alliance with her?
I had the closest alliance with her. She was the person that I established trust with in the game. Cochran and I were playing together, but I also knew that, at some point, he would target me or I would target him. One of the things that I enjoyed about this season was that everybody came to play. So, I was able to get a really good alliance with four people. It was myself, Andrea, Cochran, and, to a certain extent, Dawn, until she was kind of off the deep end a little bit. A lot of crying, a lot of emotional stuff going on. A lot more than what you saw.
I tried to work with Corinne a little bit – she was what we call a butter bar lieutenant in the army. A butter bar lieutenant is the guy that has a little yellow bar [on his uniform], as opposed to the silver bar, which is a first lieutenant. A lot of times they come in, they think they know a lot more than what they know, and you put them out on point, and if they don’t pay attention to the more senior officer, they can find themselves in a whole world of mess. So that’s who she was out there for me. I felt like, to a certain extent, I was in a little bit of control, but I certainly wasn’t thinking, “I’m in control. I’m in control.” I really try to have fun out there and tried to work with the group and tried to advance the side I was on. I was really pulling for the favorites.
Speaking of Corinne, she had some very harsh words with you in our InsideTV Podcast a few weeks ago, during which she called you a “living miscarriage.” Have you spoken to Corinne at all about that? Do you have any response?
I haven’t talked to Corinne since the game. You know, in a lot of interviews I’ve heard people ask questions like, “Is Phillip delusional?” Frankly, I think Corinne is very delusional in terms of her perception of who she is in relation to other people. The biggest issue I have with Corinne is that she is a very vulgar person. You guys have no idea, and I’m so glad. CBS knows and Mark Burnett knows that this is a family show. Survivor is a family show. You would see her speak about unspeakable things in the game about what she does around Hollywood, who she parties with, where she goes for behavior that — look, if that’s what you want to engage in and view in someone’s home or houses around Hollywood, by all means, this is a great country, and you can do what you want to do — but you don’t need to come all the way out there in the jungle, with a person like myself and other younger people in the game and describe that in such graphic detail. That’s what we heard from Corinne, and it was disgusting, frankly. So, I won’t make any personal characterizations about her in terms of the way she’s decided to speak about me. Frankly, I don’t believe it was warranted, her comments. I didn’t listen to her interview with EW, but I heard enough about it, and I’ve seen the types of comments that she’s made, and I’ve seen how she’s taken a copy of my novel, The Specialist: The Costa Rica Job, and wrote inappropriate things on the cover. That’s where she’s coming from. When I see someone behaving as badly as she is both publicly and in comments she’s said about me – and of course when she played before she said nasty things about Sugar – I think speaks more about who she is. I don’t want to personalize it and say she’s a horrible person. In fact, when I see someone struggling emotionally, physically, the fact that they feel a need to come out and talk like that, I have a lot of compassion for them. I try to keep them in my prayers and hopefully they can eventually get to a better place. I feel very sad for her.