Be afraid. Be very afraid. That might be your first thought if you happened upon towering statues of Sandra Diaz-Twine and Boston Rob Mariano — statues that took five barges just to transport. But imagine how much weirder it must have been for Sandra and Rob to see those statues of themselves! In the fourth section of our five-part interview, we asked the two former winners about their reaction upon seeing their massive likenesses when they first arrived for Survivor: Island of the Idols (premiering Sept. 25 on CBS). The dynamic duo also explained what viewers can expect to see from them this time around in their new advisor capacity.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction when you saw your statue?
SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE: I actually did cry, because Rob was like, “You know you’ve made it when you got a totem.” You know I loved it. It looks so much like me. Rob’s looked like him, but it could have also been one or two other people. But mine was like 100% on point where there was no debating whose totem it was. It was my totem. I cried, and I took pictures with it that they’re going to give me later on. I couldn’t believe it, and I thought it was just going to be like a wooden totem like the ones you see when you go anywhere with the eagle with the bear face. So for it to be actually a statue of me? That was crazy.
BOSTON ROB MARIANO: Yeah, that was pretty wild. I definitely didn’t need any ego boost while I was out there, that’s for sure. We knew that they were building them. We went out to L.A. and sat for a CGI thing and the Game of Thrones people actually made them. They did our head where they measured us and everything, so they looked exactly like us. They’re like literal prints of us. Walking up and down the beach every day seeing a huge statue of yourself was pretty surreal.
SANDRA: Then they told me the story that it took five barges to get it there, bringing the head on one barge, the shoulders on another barge, then the machine, and then Rob’s head and Rob’s shoulders. So it was five barges to bring in these five pieces and that it was made by the people that had done stuff for Game of Thrones, which was like, what? That was just icing on the cake, but I loved it. I hung around it all the time. I would sit down by my totem in a shady spot and talk to my totem. I wasn’t going crazy, just talking out loud.
What do you think it’s going to be like watching the season play back on TV because more than ever, you haven’t really seen what went on out there?
BOSTON ROB: Yeah, I have no idea. All I know is that Sandra and I concentrated and worked really hard on giving the contestants, when they came to the Island of the Idols, an experience that was meaningful and helpful. And in Survivor, there’s no second takes, so we worked really hard at being able to do that in a way that was effective.
SANDRA: Now I’ll understand what they were saying and I’ll know who they’re talking about. So when someone comes and says, “I formed an alliance with this person, or I almost went home and I don’t know who to trust,” we can see. It’s what happens to all of us. You don’t get the big picture until you see it all on TV. And then you still got to go look at the secret scenes because there’s a lot they don’t show. So it will paint a better picture of what was going on. But a lot of times, we were blind to whatever. You’re only knowing what’s going on because of this person’s view, like if they’re saying, “Oh, I’m such a great player, everybody loves me, I’m doing great on my tribe.” But are they really doing great, because it’s just their observation? It’s what they believe to be true, but it might not be so, you know?
What are viewers are going to see from you this season?
BOSTON ROB: I think you’re going to see the strategy, I think you’re going to see the intelligence, and I think you’re going to see compassion. I think you’re going to be able to see me try to present options for the contestants in ways that will help them. That’s the main thing. We were out there for them. It was like the Survivor training camp, boot camp, whatever you want to call it. But we were there to make them better players, so everything we had to offer, we laid it on the line and tried to help them.
SANDRA: Hopefully you’ll see a strategic, funny Sandra. I was storytelling a lot of times, because like I said, when the person comes to us and they start talking, I’m like, “Oh my God, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I went through that on the Pearl Islands,” or “I went through that in Heroes vs. Villains,” or “I went through that on Game Changers.” There wasn’t a scenario where we hadn’t already dealt with the same things they were dealing with.
Then we said, “You know what? I made this mistake and I should’ve done that. Maybe think about it like this, you know?” Or a lot of times it was like Rob had his way of doing something and I had mine, and that person just had to say, “Okay, so I see what Sandra is saying, I see what’s Rob saying, but what’s good for my game?” Because we both sometimes encountered the same situation, but we dealt with it differently. So now you’re having two people that have played the game, giving you advice. But these people were top notch. They came ready to play and I learned from them as well.
For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
- Boston Rob and Sandra on why they said yes to Island of the Idols
- Boston Rob and Sandra size up the Survivor: Island of the Idols cast
- Boston Rob and Sandra on not wanting to be a ‘garbage gimmick’