May 16, 2008 11:02 AM by Ryan Haidet
The first time she played the game in Panama’s Exile Island season, Cirie Fields was a self-proclaimed couch potato. When she returned as a favorite for Survivor: Micronesia – Fans Vs. Favorites, Cirie was a seasoned strategist.
“This time I had to play a stronger mental game,” the 37-year-old nurse from Norwalk, Connecticut, started. “On Exile Island I kind of floated for a good while before I actually had to make any moves. I felt like immediately I had to do something to benefit my game play. I mean, with the Yau-Man thing (voting him out early). I didn’t do anything that soon, not openly anyway last time. So this time I had to perform a lot more, a lot harder. And the people I was playing with – I was playing with seasoned veterans this time. So I had to step my game up.”
Cirie was one of 10 returning players dubbed the “Favorites” set to battle 10 super fans of the show. “I felt like this time is not going to be easy,” Cirie continued. “I can’t go on with the same strategy. I can’t sit back and wait for things to happen for me. I have to actually make them happen for myself this time. And that’s a lot more stressful than just sitting back and waiting for things to crumble.”
Without question, Cirie remains one of the most popular people to ever play Survivor. “It’s flattering,” she said. “It is almost a little bit embarrassing because I know it’s just me. To have people say, ‘Oh I love you. You’re great.’ It’s wonderful. I just feel like everyday people. And for people to see me and think ‘We love you, we know you and we think you’re funny.’ It’s just flattering.”
On Survivor: Panama – Exile Island, Cirie finished in fourth place after a tiebreaking fire challenge brought her demise since she couldn’t get a steady flame. But this time, she was a regular fire starter. “Oddly enough I never practiced.” She said she still talks to the winner of Exile Island, Aras. “I said, ‘Aras, if I just could’ve made that fire.’ He said, ‘Cirie, you could’ve made the fire. You did it the day before. You let yourself get to you.’ It was my own doubt, I think, that kept me from making that fire last time, because I made the fire practically every day here and I didn’t practice one time. And it was in the dark, if you remember, pitch black.”
This time she did one better by finishing in third place, just one position shy of making it to the final vote. She said she knew the last immunity challenge was crucial to her survival. “I knew when we left for that challenge that had I not won that challenge, I was out. You know, I had already heard the talk between the girls that ‘you would be difficult to beat in the end.’ And I knew a lot of people felt that way so as soon as that ball dropped (they had to balance a small ball on a tiny wooden platform held in their hands) I knew I was out.”
One event this season took place that has gone down as possibly the dumbest move in the game’s history – when Erik Reichenbach gave up his immunity necklace and was voted out immediately after. Cirie said that move was the most important one to her securing a spot in the final three. “You know, I thought, the only way we are going to get rid of Erik is if we get that necklace, because he was beating us hands down every challenge. And I figured, ‘Well let me throw it out there, let’s just see.’ At that point, I thought there was an 80 percent chance that he was not gonna do it, but on that 20 percent chance that he just might do it, we have to try. And I just love it when a plan comes together,” she said laughing. But she doesn’t think that they could have convinced anybody else. “I said several times, had it been someone more experienced, someone more seasoned, someone not so naÃƒve, it wouldn’t work. But with Erik being young and just so excited and inexperienced, I kind of looked at him like, ‘I don’t know, maybe we can do this.’ I wouldn’t have thought that about say James, or (Jonathan) Penner or Yau-Man.”
As many fans know, CBS is now going to allow 18-year-olds to compete on the upcoming 18th season that is currently casting. “I have an 18-year-old at home,” Cirie said upon learning the news. “I just may have him do that with a little coaching from mom.” But then she realized that a game like Survivor may be too difficult for somebody that young. “It is kind of tough. Without life experience in dealing with people on a regular basis, you may be physically able to make it through, but mentally, I don’t know. Unless you’re really intelligent, a really worldly 18-year-old, I don’t know. Hmmmm. It’s a tough call to make. Every 18-year-old isn’t the same and some are more experienced than others and some have had life more difficult than others. If you are an 18-year-old and you are worldly and you’ve had a rough life and you’ve had to deal with people and you’ve had to be on your own – then maybe. But just an 18-year-old coming from home? I don’t know.”
Cirie, who said she would play the game again in a heartbeat, has this advice to a future player: “Training is great, but brush up on your mental skills. I mean, the physical aspect of the game is really important, but it’s not everything.”
Check back tomorrow for another red carpet interview to hear what fourth-place finisher Natalie Bolton has to say about her jugular-flossing comment and other experiences on the island.
As an extra bonus, you can now read all of our Survivor Cast Bios!
Photo Credits: Picture 1 by Ryan Haidet of RealityTVMagazine. Picture 2 by Patsy Haidet. Picture 3 by CBS.