SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
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With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 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.

If there is one thing that we have learned from over 160 Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires, it is that players aren't able to easily shut off the Survivor switch once the game is over. (The inability to trust others and get out of game mode was also addressed on-screen during an episode of Survivor: Winners at War.)

So it's not surprising that Mark "Papa Bear" Caruso also struggled with finding the off switch upon returning home to New York, even though he only lasted 8 days on Survivor: South Pacific. It turns out the retired policeman found himself even sizing up fellow customers when he went out to shop. "When I went out to the store," says Papa Bear, "I would look at someone and state to myself, I would so vote you out."

Perhaps Mark was attempting to make up for lost time since he did not get to do a whole lot of voting out on the island. Not even a last-minute fake hidden immunity idol could save him once he realized that he was the true target after a sub-par challenge performance. Now, Mark looks back at his time on Survivor and what he's been up to since his torch snuffing.

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

MARK "PAPA BEAR" CARUSO: Bear hugs to everyone, and it's been a quick minute since I was blessed to be on Survivor: South Pacific. I have been very busy with life after retiring with the NYPD and ER nursing. I was recruited as a flight attendant for a few years traveling and meeting a lot of folks and exploring the world. I have always stated that I have been blessed to be able to obtain my dream of playing Survivor. After coming home, Survivor gave me the confidence to follow my dreams to audition, leading me to movies, commercials, modeling, and even obtaining SAG status.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

I feel my proudest moment was actually doing it. When 9/11 happened, I watched Survivor every Thursday with police officers and police detectives in the morgue during our breaks. I actually stated, 'I'm gonna get on that show one day.' They actually laughed.  I am sure many of them thought I was insane.  How are they gonna pick me out of the thousands? I never gave up on the dream of playing Survivor... and the rest is beautiful history.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

I am not a regret kind of person. I would rather focus on what could have I done better. I feel more communication and bonding with my tribe would have been a better outcome. I tried my best, but when you land on the island your fate is sometimes sealed.

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

When the fans saw me running to the well was in an attempt to locate an idol. I knew they were starting to plan who was next. I found the clue to the hidden immunity at the water fountain which wasn't shown, but I couldn't locate the idol in time, so I made a fake immunity, which of course didn't help.

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

Jeff stated to us on day one that "The camera will find the real you." I believe that is a true statement. I am that lovable bear guy all the time and felt I came across the way.

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

Yes, it was strange at first. When I went out to the store, I would look at someone and state to myself, I would so vote you out. LOL

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

Never, I tried so many times to get on the show and felt very blessed to be finally chosen and respect every second of it.

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

I didn't hold any bad feelings towards anyone knowing it was a game from the very beginning. So with that being said, I have been in contact with Christine, Stacy, and Mikayla via telephone and Whitney (Keith), Edna, Dawn, Jim, Albert thru Facebook, as well as Sophie and Semhar in the past at a party or Survivor events.   

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

I watch most seasons to get to know the new Survivors because once you are part of this crazy experience, you are family. I loved Survivor 21 (Survivor: Nicaragua), which, by the way, I was auditioning for and almost made it.  I had to start all over again to audition and was finally chosen to experience the game of Survivor.

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

I would have enjoyed playing with the older cast of Survivor 21 because the tribe consisted of older folks, which I felt would have been a better playing field for me and most likely a different outcome.

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

I know it must be really hard to cast the right people at the right time, but I would cast as many different ages as in the past, and well done in Survivor 21. 

Finally, would you play again if asked?

I would love to play again to prove that whatever age a person is currently, they can play this game with a true heart for the adventure of Survivor.   

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

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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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