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Name: Russell Swan
Home: Glenside, PA
Occupation: Environmental Attorney
Previous Season: “Survivor: Samoa”
Reason for Evacuation: Russell fainted multiple times during a challenge in which he was blindfolded and made to push a giant ball around an obstacle course. Jeff Probst has described this as, “The scariest moment I’ve ever had on the show.”
Gordon Holmes: Last time I saw you on TV, you scared the…uh…you know what…out of me.
Russell Swan: (Laughs)
Holmes: Who the hell let you come back on this show?
Swan: (Laughs) Surprisingly, my wife! It’s funny, Gordon. It’s one of those things where I definitely got to experience just how much my wife loves me. I joke around all the time, and there are probably other husbands who say, “I’m worth more to you dead than I am alive.” But, my wife doesn’t want to hear that.
Holmes: And she doesn’t want to see it on national TV.
Swan: That is correct. So, really what this is about is a wonderful woman who supports her husband. She knows that this is extremely important to me. The what-ifs have got to stop and this is the only way they stop.
Holmes: Did you let her know who to take vengeance upon if you don’t come back?
Swan: Ah yes, I said there’s this guy named Jeff Probst. He’s recently married, so go to his wife first. And then do the wife thing and then she will probably join you in kicking his behind.
Holmes: It seemed like you hadn’t been getting enough rest or drinking enough water in Samoa. How do you make sure that doesn’t happen again?
Swan: Gosh, first point; “Survivor” is a marathon, not a sprint, Russell. So, when you come back after a challenge it’s alright to park yourself on your ample black behind and rest for a second before you start collecting firewood. Number two; the body needs water. A certain percentage of it is water. When it doesn’t have water it will fail on you. Third thing; as soon as you hit the beach you have to figure out who’s who and what’s what. This subtle thing that you’re trying to do does not work. Last, but not least; leadership kills. So, regardless of what Jeff says or the tribe says, you will not be the leader of the tribe. Period. End of story.
Holmes: My next questions was going to be about your leadership role in Samoa. You’re tossing that aside this time around?
Swan: I’m going to avoid that. In fact, here’s what happens…who should be the leader? Russell Swan?
Holmes: Didn’t he die?
Swan: (Laughs) He died, remember? Do you really want the guy who picked pillows and blankets over a tarp?
Holmes: All the women will turn on you immediately.
Swan: Do you really want that guy to lead? I’ll completely throw myself under the bus. Then I’ll find that guy. You know how there’s always that guy and he’ll be like, “Leader? That should be me!” And he has his hand on his hip and his chin will be jutted out. I’ll throw his butt under the bus.
Holmes: It’s good to see you’re learning from the past. Now you won’t be doomed to repeat it.
Holmes: Quick “Survivor” rewind question; what happens if you don’t leave the game in Samoa? Does Galu overcome Russell Hantz and the Foa Foa four?
Swan: You know, and this is speculative at best, but at the end of the day I at least convince them to keep from eating themselves before getting rid of some of those Foa Foa people. I think that other guy…with the hat, same name as me that I will not say. (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t have a great memory, but I have a vague recollection of who you’re referring to…
Swan: I think we could dance around him and the rest of them you pick them off. I don’t think I would have let Erik (Cardona) be blindsided. Now, I didn’t know he had an idol. So, who knew, he probably would have played his idol.
Holmes: Since you’ve been on the show, there have been a bunch of changes with Redemption Island, One World, and other twists. Will you be able to adapt to whatever new, crazy thing they think up?
Swan: One of the things about “Survivor” is; if you can’t adapt, then go home. The game morphs even during the game. One twist in the beginning could be turned on its head. Redemption Island, immunity idol, two idols, five idols, the Medallion of Power? Medallion of Power…good lord, hopefully not.
Holmes: (Laughs) Now, when you go on “Survivor,” you really only prepare for three possibilities, I’m going to win, I’m going to lose to the jury, or I’m going to get voted out. Nobody prepares for a medical evacuation.
Swan: Oh no, definitely not.
Holmes: You mentioned the “What-Ifs” earlier. What did that do to you psychologically?
Swan: I hate to get all serious, Gordon, cause this has been light and fun.
Holmes: We’re on a beautiful beach in the middle of a tropical paradise!
Swan: (Laughs) But, I never thought that I would be 43 and have a situation that broke me. To have to deal with, almost like a death and all of the psychological trauma that comes with that. That day, dude, I was broken. And when I sat in that interview the next day, and but for my wife and my daughter, I wish I had died. I meant that. I could not deal with the pain of eight applications, ten years, and this is how it’s going to end? I can deal with getting voted out. I can deal with blah blah blah.
Holmes: You can deal with a million dollars.
Swan: I can deal with that! But they carried me out on my back. Worst day in my life. So, it’s been one of those things where this is an absolute blessing to be back here now. Whatever happens, it’s full circle now. I get to put some sort of closure on this thing. As an aside, I have to give a shout out to the “Survivor”fans. To a man, to a woman, the people who watch the show are phenomenal people. They reached out to me, they were positive. Any people who do what you do, they’re usually snarky.
Holmes: What?! That’s inappropriate.
Swan: (Laughs) They’re usually funny.
Holmes: This interview has gone off the rails.
Swan: But the fans were very supportive. They wouldn’t let me see myself as a failure. So I thank them.
Holmes: Why do you think you’re here? If there’s a twist, what is it?
Swan: That’s a good question. I’m not sure. The only theory that I have is, if I’m an injury and I’m here, then there’s probably other injuries here. It’s one of those things where it could be anything. My theory is it‘s “Fans vs. Favorites,” but it’s all the losers.
Holmes: “Fans vs. Losers” has a horrible ring to it.
Swan: (Laughs) All the people like me who were injured or something on one side, then a bunch of fans on the other.
Holmes: You seemed to play a pretty straight forward game in Samoa. Honestly, you were taken out before Galu really had to tear into each other. Are you comfortable lying or is that something you’re going to try to avoid?
Swan: The thing that’s clear to me, is that 2.0 Russell is going to be different. That subtlety thing ain’t going to work. I’m returning. And if there are newbies, they’re going to know that I’ve played this game. Well, some people aren’t really fans and they just kind of show up. But it’s going to get out that this dude has hit a beach before.
Holmes: We used to refer to you as “Good Russell,” should we throw that nickname out the window?
Swan: (Laughs) No, I’ve got to be who I am, dude. I like people, but if I’ve got to throw people under the bus, then hey. I want to win this thing. I don’t want to be like, “Oh, thank you, Jeff. Thank you, everybody for allowing me to come back.” I don’t want to sing ‘Kumbaya,’ I want to win this damn thing.
Holmes: I feel like if I were one of the newbies, I’d think, “Hey, Russell Swan is on my tribe. He seemed like a good, solid guy last time. Maybe someone I can trust.” Does it give you somewhat of an advantage that you got to play a relatively clean game before?
Swan: Oh, big time. I’m banking on it. You just confirmed it.
Holmes: So some people are in for a rude awakening?
Swan: That’s exactly what I’m shooting for, dude! (Laughs)
Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.