SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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.

IT'S HIS ISLAND! And seeing as how it's his island, you better believe that Troy "Troyzan" Robertson has some incredible stories to share about his time on Survivor: One World and Survivor: Game Changers. And, as Troyzan reveals in his Quarantine Questionnaire, those aren't the only times he has spent on Survivor beaches.

Not only that, but Troyzan tells plenty of tales about stuff you didn't see on TV during his two seasons, including some epic-sounding hunting expeditions with Tai Trang. But while Troyzan has a ton of fun in his Quarantine Questionnaire, the eighth-place finisher on One World and finalist on Game Changers also keeps it real and goes deep on some of the lowest points in his Survivor journey, including beating himself up for some comments he made at the One World finale and also getting his hopes up for a fan-favorite award that never came. If funny, entertaining, insightful, raw, open, and honest is what you came for, then Troyzan is here to serve up the goods. And do you know why? Because IT'S HIS ISLAND!

Troy Robertson on 'Survivor: Game Changers'
| Credit: Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.

TROY "TROYZAN" ROBERTSON: Well, I actually went back to Fiji with Tai in 2018 to visit the islands we played and lived on. What an epic emotional adventure! It was so strange to be standing on our beach, walking around the exact camp where we lived for all those days. No crew, no cameramen, no producers… it was a weird feeling. We had tears in our eyes reminiscing about our wild experience on Game Changers. Such fantastic memories!

Michele Fitzgerald came along with us since I had an extra free airline ticket from Fiji Airlines. Tai's husband, Mark, came along as well. We also met up with Sebastian and Jenna from Ghost Island, who had been traveling the planet for a few weeks. We all had an absolute blast revisiting all the places where we played… including Tribal Council. I FaceTimed with Culpepper from one of the islands we did a challenge on. I was way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thinking there's no way that I'd get cell service, but it somehow worked out. I had super-clear reception, which was a miracle on a little remote Fijian island.

I made a 15-minute YouTube video about the entire trip back. You can watch it right here, it's called "Fiji… A Journey Back."

Durning COVID, I pretty much just hunkered down at home for a year solid. Ha! I didn't mind, though, I'm kind of a loner. I live on a lush 10-acre jungle, so it suited me just fine being the recluse I am. I live like a Survivor of one.

I'm till doing plenty of my photography and working with my brother Todd on our fishing lodge business we have in Icy Bay, Alaska.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

Gosh, there are so many moments that mean a lot to me. It's hard to get it down to just one. I can't just give you one, so I'll name my top few moments.

Finding my first hidden immunity idol was a huge deal to me. Just because I thought that not many people who get to play find these things. It's a lot harder than it looks! It felt pretty special to actually find one on each season. Yelling, "THIS IS MY ISLAND!" was pretty crazy… but it's how most people know me. Ha!

I'd say that my last speech of the final Tribal Council on Game Changers was pretty proud moment for me. You guys, the viewing audience, didn't get to see and hear everything I actually said. It was maybe a 10-minute speech where I spoke one-on-one to everybody in the jury about how much they meant to me and some of the little moments we had together on the island, which really didn't have a lot to do with playing but actually just life in general — little special moments that I only shared with them individually.

I think everybody appreciated it because they stood up and applauded me when I was done. Made me cry. Jeff [Probst] actually came up to me, pulled me aside after everything was finished with the final Tribal Council, and said that that was one of the best final Tribal speeches that he had ever heard in 34 seasons. He thought it was truly heartfelt and said he'd try to play as much of it as the edit would allow. I was really surprised and grateful at the same time. So just by Jeff just saying that alone made me feel pretty dang good, and I thought even if I don't win, just those words coming from Jeff meant the world to me.

But I have to say, probably the proudest moment that I ever had on Survivor, and maybe my life, was finally seeing my brother Todd during the Loved Ones visit during Game Changers. Seeing him come running out of the mangroves was beyond words. I lost my s---! 

It was beyond emotional for me. I wanted so much to see him on my first season, but I was voted out the day he arrived in Samoa and missed him by one day. It was really sad for me to think that I missed him by one day because getting to the Loved Ones visit was something I wanted to experience soooo bad. I knew I would forget about the game, if just for a minute, if I just saw my brother for that birthday, but I missed him. I waited almost five years to get that experience again, and it was a real tearjerker for me. Something I will always cherish.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?

Not winning! Ha! I don't have really any regrets. Absolutely LOVE being out there! But I do go through moments, like I think most Survivor players do, where you say, "Oh if I just would've done this or if I just want it done that… I might have won," The coulda, woulda, shouldas. It drives me crazy. 

There is one thing, though, when I think back, that I wish that I probably would've said a little bit better. Or made myself more understood by some of the fans out there. 

It was during the "live" finale of One World, where Jeff asked me a question on how people were reacting to me on the streets. I thought that I answered him pretty honestly and only was repeating what I was hearing from a lot of people on social media… and not so much what I actually thought. A lot of people on Twitter, which was new to me, and social media as well, were sending me messages like, "Oh my God, Troyzan, I loved watching you on the show… you're one of my favorites," so on and so forth. Some fans (not me) were saying that they enjoyed watching me as much as Richard Hatch and Russel Hantz etc.

This is what they were saying… not me. I wasn't at all thinking that I was playing like Richard or Russel in the slightest. That's crazy talk. I was just was giving Jeff an honest answer. I basically just repeated what I had been reading and hearing from people's messages and emails, which I think for the most part, the people watching on TV thought that I was comparing myself to Richard Hatch and Russel Hantz, which I wasn't. I just was repeating what I had heard. I just wish I would've stated it differently now and said that people loved watching me and just left it at that.

I kind of get a lot of s--- from that, which I don't think I deserve. I think it put a sour taste in people's minds about me. Like, "Oh this Troyzan guy is a real douche weasel!" But sadly, I found out you really can't make everybody happy. Some fans love ya, some fans just like to hate. I don't really get it, but no worries.

And now that I'm thinking about it… I wish I didn't wear such bright green undies on season 34! Although Malcom and Sarah loved them! 

What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?

There were a lot of moments with Tai that I wish people would've seen. We were a lot closer on the island then it actually showed. We had a lot of fantastic times laughing, joking, and having just a good old time. I really enjoy Tai, and we had a few hilarious moments that I remember quite well. One was where I made a chicken trap with a box and he helped me catch a chicken. I still can hear Tai (with his funny little accent) saying the words calling to the chicken: "Here, chicken, chicken… Here, chicken, chicken, chicken." It was hilarious watching him lure the chicken into the trap with coconut chunks. It was basically a box that was wedged up by a stick attached to a 25-foot rope, waiting for the chicken to go under the box while Tai doing the chicken call. The chicken went in and I pulled the rope… and BOOM! We caught it and we were ecstatic. No one believed that we caught it that way.

But the funniest moment with us was when we went hunting for an eel one morning out near the coral rocks when tide was out. I spotted a huge eel in an area of the rocks between the coral and tide. Tai would stick his whole arm down in the hole, getting bit like crazy every attempt to grab it! Every time he would put his hand in the hole, it would bite the hell out of him and he would pull out his hand and blood would be everywhere.

But he finally grabbed it and I smashed it with a rock as he was yelling at me, "Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! Smash his head!" I was like, "Geez, Tai, you're nuts!" And so I did, but then all of a sudden Tai got all emotional and started crying and telling the eel, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry for taking your life." I hugged him and said, "Tai, it's okay. He gave us his life for food. Come here, buddy." He give me a hug and kissed me on the cheek. We hugged there in the ocean, all bloody with a dangling eel. We realized that the whole thing must have looked pretty crazy to the camera guy filming us. Then we started laughing our heads off! It was quite the moment. One that I'll never forget.

Oh, and Kim's scheming/chatting on lockdown during One World will always stick in my memory banks forever! (Wink, wink.)

Troy Robertson on 'Survivor: Game Changers'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?

I'm always happy for any edit, honestly. Haha! I thought my edit pretty much showed the real me. Sometimes they edit things that don't actually happen in the time frame that the TV audience sees… but they need to tell a story to give the people watching something to follow. There are tons of stories all going on at the same time, but they can't possibly show them all. Things happen out there where some people get credit for something that they actually didn't do or say. It's always fun to watch the season back on TV and say "What?! That's not really how it happened!"

I loved all the screen time I got on One World, thought I might get a little more screen time on Game Changers since I did make it to the final Tribal… but unfortunately a lot of my gameplay/strategy got cut in the editing room. Plus, when the jury gives you zero votes, it doesn't really help the ol' edit action. 

It's tough to show everything we do out there, so I get it. Plus, on Game Changers they felt like they needed to show all the returnees as much as possible. So all of our edits get cut to the max. I often wonder what's better: getting fourth or fifth place and everyone thinks you played fantastic, or getting to the final Tribal and getting zero votes where everyone thinks you sat around eating coconuts all day. Oh well, it's all good. I'm always honored to play!

What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

It's always a very weird feeling coming back. I don't like it at all. I'd rather stay out on the island for another month or two. When they give us back our cell phones at the airport, that's when it hits me. Damn! I'm back to the crazy real world again.

I stare down at my phone and actually debate whether I want to turn it on or not. The simple island life is tough for me to leave. Once I'm home, I go right to the grocery store and buy everything and anything I wouldn't normally eat. I do a major pig-out for a solid week! Tons of chocolate anything! Looking at my skinny-ass body in the mirror is always amusing a well.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?

Never regretted one moment during the game at all. The only time I really felt bummed out and disappointed was after the live finale of One World. I kind of sat there after it was all finished and realized my dream hadn't come true. I don't know if you guys realize it took me 11 years to get on the show. Year after year after year waiting for a dream. It was quite the journey to just make it on the show. My only goal/dream was to win, and after I realized at that point (after the live show) that I didn't win, it hit me that my dream was crushed.

I was up that season for the fan-favorite vote and I got second to Kim, which made it even worse to me, only because so many people had been telling me, "It's okay, Troy, that you didn't win this season, I'm pretty sure you're going to be a fan favorite." Even Jeff's wife and his dad came up to me in the theater and said they loved watching me on the show and they were 100% sure I would win fan favorite. So I thought well that would be a great consolation prize.

Again, it was what I was hearing from people, not so much that I thought everybody was going to vote for me or something. But it's kind of like when someone is up for an Academy Award and everyone is telling them, "Hey, Jack Nicholson, you're gonna win an Oscar tonight!" And you sit in the audience waiting and hoping that it's you… and then they announce somebody else's name and you just have to sit there with his fake smile on your face.

I think because it took me so long, and 11 years of my life were dedicated to Survivor, just walking away from the finale I felt completely empty. I was bummed out, I didn't want to talk to anybody. Kim came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I lied to her and said yes. But I wasn't okay. Honestly, I was just sad.

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?

I honestly try to keep in contact with almost everybody from both of my seasons. I'm just that kinda guy. So I reach out here and there by text to mostly everyone from both my seasons, except for maybe a few.

I'll always be super-close with Brad and Monica Culpepper. I go and visit them in Tampa quite a bit. What a great couple. Their Wi-Fi is "troyzan troyzan." Ha! Sarah Lacina and I have talked probably once a week for the last four years now. We're really close. Amazing. She's funny as hell, and I was super-proud to watch her play Winners at War.

I FaceTime a lot with Sandra. We talk about life and other s--- besides Survivor, like her dogs. We have a good laugh or two reminiscing. I just talked with Hali a week ago and had a great conversation. I loved her energy out there. I used to talk to Aubry quite a bit about crazy s---like UFOs and things, but she went and got herself a boyfriend so the convos have dissipated a little. Tai and I still talk every month or so.

You'll be surprised that I talk to Dr. Greg Smith (Tarzan) the most! I probably talk to Tarzan more than anybody else from my first season. I've been to his house like three times. He lives in kind of this wild mansion. It's like a combination of Disneyland, Jurassic Park, and Universal Studios all wrapped into one. It's an amazing house and he's an amazing guy. He's pretty eccentric, but I really like talking to him even though he constantly uses words I have no idea what they mean. We laugh about it. He is a real Survivor fan to this day as well. I still talk with Crazy Kat, she's like a little sister to me. And also Jonas, Chelsea, Kim, and Jay. When I'm out in Los Angeles, I usually meet up with Christina for lunch and try to meet up with Bill Posley. 

RECAP: 4/26/17 Survivor
Troyzan Robertson, Zeke Smith, and Brad Culpepper on 'Survivor: Game Changers'
| Credit: CBS

Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?

Oh, of course I do! I've binge-watched the hell out of a lot of seasons during COVID. But honestly, my favorite is still the first season, only because it got me so excited about actually playing. I'm still in awe of how it looked that first season. Jeff in camp just walking around having conversations with everyone. Classic! I would've died to be on that first season, only because it's just so epic and historical of a season. Richard Hatch started it all, and it would be amazing to play with that guy. I've met a lot of people from that first season as well. I'm pretty close with Joel and a few others, and I think it would've been one hell of a ride to start. Who knows, maybe I would've played by six times by now If I would've been cast on that season.

My favorite place to actually live on would've been the Cook Islands. Those islands, the water, the trees — it looked stunningly beautiful! I can't even imagine how tropical it actually is. I'm not sure if I would've like to play on that season, but I definitely would've liked to gone to the Cook Islands.

Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why? 

Let's see… I've already played with maybe the best players to ever played Survivor. The best winners of all time: Sandra, Tony, Sarah, and Kim — all amazing winners and my top four ever! How can you beat that? Plus, I played with some of the most well-known, favorite players of all time and considered some of the best to never win, like Cirie, Ozzy, Aubry, Malcolm, JT. I mean, come on… I played with the best that ever played. Andrea is immensely popular as well. I think Amanda and I would get along very well. We grew up in the same kind of area.

I already mentioned Richard Hatch. Just because he's the guy that started Survivor on its epic run. I'm not sure if Survivor would've been Survivor and lasted as long without Richard starting it all. I would like to play with a guy 100%.

I almost made it on three other seasons, so it would've been interesting to see who I would've played with on those seasons. I was asked to play on Fans vs. Favorites 2, so Cochran would've been very interesting. I was up for Blood vs Water 1, so playing with Tyson would've been nutso to say the least. And then I was also up for Second Chance. I imagine playing with people like Jeremy, Wentworth, Joe, and Fishbach would have been great.

And then can you imagine me and Keith Nale on the same season? How crazy would that be? Some of the stories we could tell would be out of this world funny. Lex and I would have team up 100% in Africa! Can't leave out Boston Rob, Parvati, and maybe, just maybe, Russell Hantz. Last but not least… Lauren Ashley Beck, and she knows why! I know that's a loooong answer.

 If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?

What the hell happened to Tree Mail? And please, please, please bring back the intro clip ("Ancient Voices") with all the players in the videos at the start of each episode. That's one of the best parts.

Please just play one new season where it was like in the very first season. Survivor: Back to the Basics. No gimmicks, no extra stuff, just pure Survivor where we see tons of camp life, suffering in the rain, starvation, that kind of s---. When you're out, you're voted out you're out. Bye-bye!

And in upcoming seasons, how about just cutting it down to just two hidden immunity idols per season? But if we all think about it, Jeff and all the producers must know something about changing things up for the viewers that we don't know to make people still interested in Survivor, otherwise it would've gone off the air a long time ago. Twenty years and going strong. So hats off to those guys. They know what the hell they're doing, period. 

Finally, would you play again if asked? 

That's kind of a duh. Do you even need to ask? My bags are always packed. 1000% I'll play! I'm way too competitive. It's pretty much been my life for 20 years now. I'm dying to finally win already!

If I had a dime for every second I think about playing Survivor again, I'd be a millionaire 10 times over! Thanks, Dalton. And thanks to the Survivor world. It's been a great time!

To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get all the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub and follow Dalton Ross on Twitter.Watch Survivor on NetflixPrime VideoHulu, and more options

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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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