Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Josh Canfield on being consumed after playing the game
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed 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.
There is a big adjustment to playing Survivor. And there is also a big adjustment coming back to civilized society after. (Just ask Jud Sergeant and his bedroom wall.) For Josh Canfield, the post-Survivor shock was both mental and physical after returning from Survivor: San Juan del Sur.
“Survivor does mess you up for sure,” says Josh. “It’s strange how it kind of consumes your thoughts afterward, at least for a few weeks.… After being in the ‘real world’ again, all I wanted to do was give it another shot. I wanted back in the game.”
This is a common theme we’ve heard from Survivor players after they come back home — a constant obsession with replaying everything in their mind that happened out on the island over and over again. And for Josh, that replaying must have been particularly panful seeing as how he was one of the players controlling the game in its early stages. That fact that he was double-crossed at the merge after juuuuuuuust missing out on individual immunity adds an extra sting as well.
But Josh also noticed a physical change upon his return to New York City: “I think the biggest adjustment was with my eating habits. I stuffed myself every meal. I became a sweets person. I gained 30 pounds. It was all quite exciting!”
Almost as exciting as Josh’s full Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
JOSH CANFIELD: Hmm, lots of laying in bed at night replaying every moment from the “island” and analyzing my every move to see what I could have changed. But besides that, not much. But if we’re being specific San Juan del Sur aired in the fall of 2014, and after that, I’ve continued living in NYC and working as an actor.
I appeared on Broadway in Doctor Zhivago in 2015, and The Great Comet in ’16 and ’17. After that, I did a few regional gigs across the country and turned my attention to completing a new show I wrote, ALIVE! The Zombie Musical. Last year, I toured with the show Falsettos, and began putting my team together for ALIVE! At the beginning of 2020, we were all set to push full steam ahead with an off-Broadway production of ALIVE! in the summer. Then the pandemic hit, and well, who knows when we’ll open the show. My industry has been shut since March and, as of now, it’s not re-opening until summer 2021. It sucks for sure, but I know a lot of people are out of work and the future is unclear.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
When I won individual immunity after that grueling…. I mean, when I found the hidden immunity idol as I scoured the…. Wait, no, I guess it was when I made the final 3 and was able… Damn, that wasn’t me either. Well, I guess I’ll have to settle for swaying Jon and Jaclyn to vote with my alliance to get rid of Jeremy. But alas, that plan was thwarted by Julie quitting.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Omg, I have many. Let’s see, not finding an immunity idol, not winning individual immunity, voting Baylor on my first vote, voting out John Rocker that early in the game (I should’ve used him as a shield for longer), losing to Reed in the sumo challenge, winning the challenge both times on Hunapu instead of losing and voting out Jeremy or Natalie, etc.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Reed was on the bottom of his tribe for the first three votes, and had Hunapu gone to Tribal instead of Coyopa any of those times, he would have been voted out. Apparently, they thought he was sneaky and couldn’t be trusted. Right before the first challenge, I mouthed to him if he was okay, and he shook his said and said no. When we finally were united, he told me how rough the first 10 days were and that no-one would work with him. Thankfully, we had the tribe swap and Wes, Alec, and myself joined the tribe, and from there he ended up being an essential player in the game, especially with the Jeremy vote out, which he orchestrated.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I was pretty thrilled with my edit. I felt it accurately represented what was going on out there and how I was playing. I was shocked really. I expected things to be a bit skewed in some ways, but I came away from the whole viewing experience pleasantly surprised.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Haha, Survivor does mess you up for sure. It’s strange how it kind of consumes your thoughts afterward, at least for a few weeks. I think the biggest adjustment was with my eating habits. I stuffed myself every meal. I became a sweets person. I gained 30 pounds. It was all quite exciting, haha! After being in the “real world” again, all I wanted to do was give it another shot. I wanted back in the game.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
When I looked in the mirror and realized I looked like Skeletor, I indeed analyzed my life choices. Alas, the true answer is I never regretted it. I was so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be on such an iconic television show, and would never take for granted the small part I got to play in its history.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
None. Hate all of them. No, not really, I have nothin’ but love for my cast…well, except maybe Missy. haha! I chat most with Jon, Jaclyn, Jeremy, Natalie, and Val.
Jon and Jaclyn are from Michigan where I’m originally from, and I sang at their wedding. They are the sweetest couple and have become people who I hope stay in my life always.
Natalie lives not far from in Jersey, so I was able to see her during Winners at War for watch parties and such. She’s basically a badass. Jeremy and Val have always just felt like good friends to me — I think because Jeremy and I had such a similar experience on the show, and being at Ponderosa the whole time together. I love their adorable family so much, and basically what to be their adopted uncle.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I still watch Survivor because I love it, and also because of this question. Haha! I get asked it often, and I like to respond intelligently to current season questions.
Let’s see, let’s see. I was obsessed with Cagayan before I went on the show, since it was airing as I was getting ready to go. The cast was so phenomenal and the gameplay was so impressive. If we are talking about a recent season since I was on, I’d say I really enjoyed David vs Goliath. You ask me why? Christian. Would there be any other reason? haha!
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
This is a very difficult question as there are so many I would have loved to play with. Old school, I think I would have enjoyed playing with Yul. I mean, he’s great to look at, seems fun to talk to, and is an incredible challenge asset. I’ve always been drawn to him and would love playing with him. New school, can I say Christian again? Ha! I think he’s fascinating. But I could list so many more: Andrea, Michele, Eliza, Tommy, Cirie, Parvati, Ozzy, Cydney, Courtney, Charlie, Brian, Todd, Aubry, etc.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Could we get a few more cinnamon rolls on the show, please? I mean, everything would be better with cinnamon rolls. Also, I didn’t think Exile Island enhanced my season at all. Let’s be done with that, yes.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Hell ya! I’ve always been open to returning. I was asked to return for Second Chance, but I had just signed a Broadway contract and so I chose the latter. I was called for Game Changers, but they ended up not going with me. But yes, a hundred times yes, I’d love another shot!
Side note, I was contacted about being on Amazing Race when they were having Survivor and Big Brother players on. They wanted me to go on with Reed, even though we weren’t together anymore, I can assure you that would have been some high drama. It didn’t pan out. Viewers were robbed…or perhaps saved.