May 17, 2008 01:32 PM by Ryan Haidet
Natalie says she wasn’t ready for this season’s concept. “I think I was the last person to realize the way the scenario was going to go down,” the 32-year-old said of playing against previous contestants. “I’m standing on the mat and I see Parvati and Cirie and Ozzy. In my entrance interviews, I was talking about how Ozzy was the most amazing player. He is by far one of the best Survivor players ever. I firmly believe that and I still believe that. So when I seen him coming out I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t, here we go. This is gonna be a game.’ It was actually really nice to get to know them and get to know them as people and human beings and daily struggles and I’m very thankful for it.”
Each group of 10, separated by fans and returning players, Natalie says that the favorites had a much better camp than they did, which some of them (favorites) admitted after the tribal swap. “When they came over to our camp, they thought, ‘Oh man, you guys got the shaft. We’re living in a cave, we’ve got fire. We have a front beach and a back beach.’ We had a beach (at the fans’ camp) where the water came up and we had no walking shore at all. So they even attest to us getting the shaft. So we were on many levels to the disadvantage.”
For the first several weeks, Natalie may have been one of the least-featured players in the show’s history – until she turned on Jason Siska and made the comment where she said she wanted to floss her teeth with his jugular. With that, a Survivor villain was born. “I don’t even know where I came from,” the fourth-place finisher said. “I don’t even remember saying the jugular comment, but man, I must’ve been heated about something. That’s how I was pretty much throughout the game – pretty opinionated.” Natalie said it was a part of her strategy to keep her thoughts to herself early on in the game. “I could not be opinionated and colorful in front of my tribe and in front of the other tribe. I needed to keep a really low profile because I know how animated and opinionated I am. And then finally, Day 20-some-odd-numbers in the game, my patience starts to wear. I’m a little bit more hungry, I’m a little bit more tired and I’m a little bit more thirsty than I was six, seven days ago. It’s like, you know what, you gotta make it happen. And also, there’s a certain level of control that you feel when the numbers start to dwindle a little bit. You can control eight people a lot more than you can control 19 people. You can’t bloom too early, you’ve gotta wait until you feel like you can have a little more control of the situation before you start mouthing off too much.”
At the immunity challenge for the final five competitors, Erik Reichenbach won, which meant he couldn’t be voted out. With that, it seemed Natalie’s fate was sealed and she would be sent home next. “I knew I had to win that challenge and I didn’t pull it out. I think that was the shooting challenge and I was right behind Erik on that. Had I had one more shot, I’m from Texas, I shoot guns, so ugggh, you know. But I thought I was going home.”
Then Cirie Fields came up with a great idea to try and convince Erik to give the necklace away to Natalie – which he did, making the biggest blunder ever. “That stupidest move was the most valuable move for me, and I’m so thankful for it,” Natalie continued. “I absolutely, 100 percent thought I was going home. I was already down in the dumps; the tail was already tucked between my legs. Actually, I got a little bit heated with Cirie at that moment. They edited a lot of it out, but I was really kind of pissed off with her because I thought she was punking me. I’m like, ‘Oh now you’re punking me? You want me to go talk to Erik, are you serious? You’ve got to be joking.’ I thought she was screwing with me and then I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’”
At Tribal Council that night when Erik made his move, Natalie said she was shocked. “Without sounding completely cheesy and ridiculous, when I took the necklace, I really felt like God was with me that moment. Because I’m like, ‘This is something that should never happen.’ And I felt like, ‘Wow, if there’s a moment in time that if you want something bad enough, it will come to you if you want it bad enough and you work hard enough for it.’ In that moment, I didn’t even have it about me to think that he was stupid. I didn’t have it about me to think, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding me? How could he do this?’ I thought, ‘I’m so thankful for this right now because this never should have never happened.’”
With that, Natalie made it to the final four, but that’s as far as she got when the three favorites Parvati, Amanda and Cirie voted her out next. That gave her a coveted spot on the jury of eight where she was given the opportunity to ask a question to the final two – and hers was a doozy. “I knew that Parvati was going to get my vote,” Natalie said. “I bonded with her, I connected with her. I appreciated the way she played the game with me. She stayed true to me. So I really didn’t have a pointed question or a jabbing question for her. So I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to screw with her a little bit. I’m going to embarrass her, make her think on her feet and she’s going to not even know that this is coming. ‘So, say Parvati, how do you play the game of Survivor and have sex? How do you parallel that?’ She’s like, ‘Wow, excuse me?’ And I got what I wanted. I just wanted to mess with her a little bit.”
Natalie did cast her ballot for the eventual winner, Parvati, who took this season’s $1 million prize. Although it’s all over now, Natalie said that she would love to play the game again. “I would get on the plane yesterday.”
Check back tomorrow for the last of Ryan Haidet’s exclusive red carpet interviews. This time it’s a chat with fan-favorite James Clement who reveals all about his experiences.
As an extra bonus, you can now read all of our Survivor Cast Bios!
Photo Credits: Picture 1 and 2 by Ryan Haidet of RealityTVMagazine. Picture 3 by CBS.