SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

As seasoned Survivor players (and winners) Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine are used to scheming and strategizing 24-7. So what was it like for them to return for Survivor: Island of the Idols (premiering Sept. 25 on CBS) as mentors instead of players? Without any backstabbing, how did they occupy themselves? And what was it like living on an island with someone you weren’t trying to vote out? In the second section of our five-part interview with the legends, the pair discussed adjusting to their new roles, the games they played, the bets they placed, and the songs they sang. (It’s only a matter of time before Coconut Drop makes it as an official Survivor challenge.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was it weird being out there with someone and not having to worry about scheming and strategizing and how you were going to beat them?
BOSTON ROB MARIANO: A little bit, but that wasn’t our role this time. We knew from the outset that we weren’t competing, there was no shot of us to win. It’s funny, because Sandra and I were both competitors and I think we found a way to compete with each other without really competing. We bring different things to the table, we have different strategies, we don’t always agree on everything. So sometimes the contestants would get two different pieces of advice or wisdom. And they’d see things from two different angles, and it was up to them to choose which way they would go with something. But yeah, I hear what you’re saying with the challenges and the strategy and that aspect of it, but we live vicariously through them to see what would happen week in and week out.

SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE: It wasn’t weird. I didn’t even prepare. I usually don’t prepare anyway, but this was even better. I don’t have to worry about anything. We just got to go out there, build our shelter, walk the walk, talk the talk, and then as they send over the people every couple of days, we talked to them. It was so easy. I told Jeff, “If you ever need anybody to come do this again, you call me. I don’t know that I’d want to come out here for so long, but you give me a call. I’ll sit on an island, or sit on a boat for a couple of hours like Cochran, and then send me back home.”

How did you two get along out there?
BOSTON ROB: For the first part of the time we were there, I think Sandra maybe thought at some point she was going to get to enter the game or something. Even though it was pretty well-defined that that wasn’t happening. But we had a lot of laughs, we talked about our family. We were busy trying to figure out what the lessons were going to be and how we were going to implement them. We knew we had to do a good job hosting this segment. And when the people came to the Island of the Idols, that they got something out of it that was useful. I didn’t want it to be just a garbage gimmick. We wanted to feel like the contestants came here, they saw us, they got something useful out of it. And whether it helped them or hurt them, they learned a lesson, that’s for sure.

SANDRA: Never once did we fight or argue. Rob gave me my space. I gave him his space. He never woke me up. I didn’t wake him up. He let me do my thing. I let him do his walks. He likes to walk on the beach back and forth, and it wasn’t a big beach. The length was very small. Whenever he went on his walks every day to clear his mind, I let him do his thing. He let me do my girl thing. We never once got into an altercation of any sort. I never went to sleep pissed off at him. We’d laugh, we’d giggle, we’d sing songs together, and it was really a nice experience. Of all the people who could have come out here with me, I was glad it was him and he told me several times was glad it was me. We really got along, no baloney.

BOSTON ROB: Yeah, we did good. I’ve always liked Sandra, I’ve never had any problems with her. We’re the same age, the same generation, the same mindset. Obviously 24/7 with somebody for a month and a half, you have to give each other your space. We didn’t always agree. But I think we respected each other and we knew we had a job to do, but at the same time we had fun too. I definitely had a lot of laughs.

Survivor: Island of the Idols screen grab
Credit: CBS

What would you all do to pass the time while on the island?
BOSTON ROB: I don’t sit around a lot, so we kept busy. We did what we had to do and then we tried to have fun and laugh, and we talked about family. It was a lot of downtime. There’s always a lot of downtime on Survivor. But the fact that we told Jeff we wanted to be out there doing this, I think he thought that would be a challenge. I think we handled it well, though.

I would make her hike up to the top of the mountain and she would complain she didn’t want to. I would make her go in the ocean and catch fish with me. We played games, we’d make up games on the beach and play games, the two of us. One was called “Coconut Drop.” Coconut Drop is pretty simple. It’s basically like cornhole with a coconut and a target, and there’s a three-point tiering system. And you have to sing the song if you score a point. If you don’t sing the song, you don’t get the points. She hated singing the song. And I’m not singing it for you now either.

SANDRA: I didn’t like playing Coconut Drop that much. But I remember singing “Plane Day.” With like 25 days left we started. So every night it was like: [Singing voice] “25 days till plane day, 25 days till plane day, 25 days till we’re on that f—ing plane.” So every day we counted down. Next day was “24 days till plane day,” then “23 days till plane day…” We were going to make a t-shirt.

But I hated Coconut Drop. I actually wanted to always Hermit Crab. I would tell him, “Okay, get a small hermit crab, a medium hermit crab, and a big hermit crab.” And then we put them in a circle and then make a bigger circle and whatever crab went to the end first would win. So we made a couple of bets. I think by the time we left there, I owed him a couple of dollars, but then it was we made this one final bet where it was all or nothing.

He was like, “I can run all the way down there in one minute and come back in one minute.” And I was like, “Okay.” So I was counting, like, “One 1,000, two 1,000, three 1,000….” When I saw that he made it all the way down to the rock in 30 seconds, I was like, “Oh my God, he’s going to come back!” But on his way back, about halfway through, you could see him losing momentum and getting slower, and I was like, “Forget it, don’t even bother, you lost.” He said he caught a cramp, but I won. So we left the island square.

Is this the best you’ve ever slept on Survivor, just knowing you could sleep and didn’t have to worry about people scheming against you and stuff?
BOSTON ROB: Like a baby, Dalton. Like a baby.

SANDRA: Oh, yeah, but our island had a lot of snakes, and on our first night there, a snake came right up under my shelter, right up under where I was sleeping, where we laid the planks. So Rob found this machete and hit it. And it was poisonous. So after that, we just kept running into these snakes. There was one day we saw three of them on three separate occasions, and it was three different snakes, and it’s because where we were living close to the ocean that they come up and they go down. That’s what they do and that’s where they lived, and we were actually trying to move into their territory.

That was the only thing was the snakes, and Rob had a thing every night about the snakes, always looking and making sure that we didn’t see anything before we went to sleep.

Who was freaking out more about the snakes?
SANDRA: Him. All the time.

For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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