Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Chris Underwood was 'f---ed up' after playing the game
With season 41 of Survivor delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
Chris Underwood certainly lived the highs and lows of Survivor. A super fan, Chris was voted out third on the Edge of Extinction season, having his torch snuffed on day 8. Luckily for him, the Edge of Extinction gave him another chance, and he took it, returning to the game on day 35 and walking away a million-dollar winner just four days after that.
With all that emotional whiplash, it's no wonder that Chris struggled to reacclimate to regular society after his time in the game… and on the Edge of Extinction. "Honestly, I was f---ed up," says Chris. "People don't realize it from the couch, but there is some major PTSD that takes place out there. I struggled with too much eating, drinking, and sleeping, and justified it because I had gone through some s--- out there, but they were definitely the wrong coping mechanisms. It took at least a year to get back to the same mental headspace. I could have handled the post-Survivor experience much better, but you live and you learn!"
Of course, winning a million dollars must've helped with the coping process. In fact, as he reveals in his Quarantine Questionnaire, Chris actually had a chance to win another $2 million on top of that, as he indeed got a call to compete on season 40, Winners at War. Why did he turn it down? And why did he later rethink his decision? All that and more in the Chris Underwood Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
CHRIS UNDERWOOD: Hey, Dalton!! A lot has been happening on the Underwood front! Starting a new business, running our Airbnb, building our solar office, moving cities, buying a new home, adding puppy No. 2 to the Underwood clan, and trying my hardest not to miss every single Wardog Facetime call. The last one has been the most exhausting....
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
The entire season was a proud moment for me! I felt like the Survivor experience in general was a mental and emotional battle that I was able to win one day at a time by focusing on the big picture and not letting the past affect my future. My most joyful moment though was winning the final 4 challenge! I was an emotional wreck by that point in the game, but to have that necklace around my neck meant more to me than winning the fire-making challenge. It was a really special moment for me. I kept repeating, "Just ride the wave. Whatever happens happens. Let go of control and just ride the wave..." It was a great experience.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I don't know if I can say I had any regrets! I would have loved to have lasted longer in the real game rather than the Edge of Extinction. I would have also loved to have spent time with my castmates at Ponderosa after the final challenge to get back in the game. I don't think I would have been in the same position to win had either of those things happened, but I would have loved to have spent more time with those guys nonetheless.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I wish the ceremony of the Chris/Rick marriage officiated by none other than Aubry Bracco would have made TV! Either that or when Joe legitimately speared a shark in the beach break out on the EOE. What can't that man do?! (Side note: The shark was also the worst thing I have eaten to date. We forgot to skin the shark, so the entire pot of rice was littered with sand paper tasting shark skins 🤮)
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I can't complain! The edit was never super important to me. I know what I accomplished out there and that was enough for me. To all you future Survivor players, THE EDIT IS OVERRATED! Don't you dare let it affect your experience out there. The fact that you got on the show is amazing. Remember your experience, not what makes television!
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Honestly, I was f---ed up. People don't realize it from the couch, but there is some major PTSD that takes place out there. I struggled with too much eating, drinking, and sleeping, and justified it because I had gone through some s--- out there, but they were definitely the wrong coping mechanisms. It took at least a year to get back to the same mental headspace. I could have handled the post-Survivor experience much better, but you live and you learn!
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
The moment I realized I had been blindsided was tough for me. My gut was hurting as I walked down the trail to my demise. When the fork in the road came up, I walked straight past the sign to get back in the game because I was in such shock! Even on the boat ride to the EOE, I was contemplating whether any of it was worth it at all. It took a few days to get back into a place of gratitude.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I still keep in touch with several people from my season! People don't realize that the cast is from all over the country from all different walks of life. If we all lived in the same city, we would be a lot closer! The reality is, we don't. I wish I kept in touch with everyone from my season, but the most recent conversations I have had have been with Wardog, Joe, Rick, and Ron!
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I really wish I would have gone on to season 40! I actually got asked to be on that season, but I got the call literally 12 hours after I said "I do" to my wife. That was a tough honeymoon weighing out options!! I would have had to leave for Fiji the night of my win in L.A. I decided it was in my best interest to enjoy my marriage, enjoy my win, and enjoy the honeymoon phase with Katelyn. Only when the $2 MILLION prize was reveled did I seriously consider whether I had made the right choice!!
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I would have loved to have played with Michele! Every time I hang with her, she, my wife, and myself have a blast. That's probably a bad thing though because I think she has much more potential to blindside me than I do her! I wouldn't have seen it coming!
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I don't know if I would change anything. I love how they change it up every few seasons! I am super interested to see how Jeff and the team are switching up season 41. I don't know what is going to happen, but from what Jeff said, I hear it is a doozy!
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Before, when I was asked, I was legitimately not ready to take on another season. Now that a few years have passed, I think I would be ready. I think the biggest question would be whether or not my career and the development of the people under me is more important! I would love to play again, but it couldn't be at the sacrifice of others' development and growth. Hopefully the cycle of life works out for me to play again in the future! I love Survivor and all the fans out there who watch so you never know!
Signing off, and in honor of my love for all things Survivor/Survivor podcasts.... I'M DOING IT… FOR MONICA!!!
- Troyzan Roberston wasn't okay after the Survivor: One World live finale
- How Laura Morett got Tyson Apostol pantless on Survivor: Blood vs. Water
- Joaquin Souberbielle explains his journey from Tinder to Survivor
- Chelsea Walker reacts to her Survivor showmance edit
- Brandon Quinton reflects on being a 'flamboyant out gay character' on Survivor
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!"