March 12, 2010 07:52 PM by Ryan Haidet
Although he took home the $1 million after dominating Survivor: Palau 10 seasons ago, firefighter Tom Westman was in a much different situation this time around.Â As part of Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains, Tom said the game was a totally different experience since people had personal relationships prior to the game.Â On the outside for his entire experience, Tom wasn’t able to break into the majority alliance and was the fifth person voted out of the game.Â In a conference call with reporters today, Tom also talked about how surprisingly difficult it was to get along with fan favorites Rupert and James.Â He weighed in on the chocolate refusal before the Reward Challenge as well.
Question: How bad was James‘ injury, and could Jeff Probst’s niece have beaten him in a race?
Tom Westman: I don’t know how old Jeff Probst’s niece is, but if she’s an infant she could have beaten him.Â Without the leg brace that they gave him, he wouldn’t have even been able to walk to either return to the beach or to go to Tribal that night. …
It was one of those sickening moments where your stomach flips when you see one of their appendages just bending in a direction it doesn’t normally go.Â There was no stability to it.Â Even Candice as a pre-med student was kind of telling us what had happened there and what the situation was with the ligaments.Â There was no question that he was out of the game and was not competing anymore.Â But he was still a loyal vote who will do what Amanda tells him to do.Â That earned him another night and earned me a vote out. …
They kept James because they got the number strategy going.Â If he had broken his back they would have carried him there in a gurney just to have him cast his vote the way Amanda tells him to vote.Â It never came down to strength.
Question:Â Can you explain how James treated Stephenie.Â Was it accurate?
Tom: It was actually worse than it appeared.Â It was bad enough that two guys who were trying to play a game had to intervene even though it was against their better interest — Colby and I.Â There was a point that as a man you couldn’t sit there quietly and let anybody be treated like that in your alliance (or) out of your alliance.Â It was pretty ugly.Â This is a girl who basically knows she’s going home.Â She’s been told the vote is her.Â It’s the end — her dream is over.Â She wasted a big chunk of her life.Â She’s out second vote.Â Somebody who made it very far in both of her previous seasons, very well respected, and you’re going to go after her in such a vicious way as he did.Â As I say, all mass no class.Â That guy’s got no class.
Tom: Rupert is the most self-unaware person I’ve ever encountered.Â He’s annoying beyond belief and just has no idea that he is.Â I think he’s just kind of clueless.Â You know, hammin’ it up for the face time.Â Really playing the role of Rupert from Survivor — it’s embarrassing.Â He’d stay up all night long burning all of the wood that had been collected through the day.Â It’s the middle of the night, we’re all barely getting any sleep, and everyone gets to sleep and he decides it’s time to start splitting wood three feet from your head.Â He just doesn’t get it.
I kind of got to find out for myself why people who play the game with him don’t care for the guy.Â Coming into the game, he and James were people who I — having seen they were going to be on my tribe and boarding the helicopter with them — I was thrilled.Â I liked the way they were perceived to have been in their previous seasons — the characters that were created and you root for with your kids.Â Then when you go out and you meet these two tools it’s like, “Oh my God.Â You gotta be kidding me.Â I got to stay here with these people?”
Question:Â What does Colby have to do now?
Tom: Colby is in a tough spot.Â I was actually thinking, boy that had to be a long, lonely dark walk home from Tribal Council for him that night.Â I don’t know what his chances are with the group that they’ve got and the way that they’re playing it.Â The only shot he’s got in the immediate future is maybe one of the future challenges doesn’t have a puzzle at the end of it, and maybe we actually get to win it.
Question:Â Was it ever discussed to target JT since all he did was flip flop from side to side?
Tom: I always keep a positive thing going with JT because I realize he is swaying back and forth.Â If you time it right, and he’s swaying to your side, that’s great.Â I was never going to get in with Amanda and James, but I did last week after finding the Idol.Â I did get them guys on board until Cirie came in and rocked my boat and kind of dumped all my playing pieces in the water.Â I was holding out that he (JT) was going to come around.Â He talked so glowingly about how he admired Colby and I, and the way we played.Â The way we were portrayed by our teammates and by the public after our seasons.Â He wanted that.Â I just kind of kept holding out that he was going to come our way and play on our team, but at the end of the day Amanda had more influence on JT than Tom did.
Question: Any regrets not eating the chocolate?
Tom: That’s the funny thing — I did eat the chocolate.Â They didn’t show it, but the plate came down and I was the last guy on the line.Â I just assumed that it was a plate that had a lot of chocolate on it, and when it got down to the end it was empty.Â Whatever I was doing — tying my shoe or something — I didn’t see the mass refusal of chocolate.Â When Jeff gets the plate back and he was like, “Wait nobody ate the chocolate.” …Â Just somebody decided as a macho, fierce competitor we will not eat the chocolate.Â But whatever.
Question: What has surprised you most about the Villains tribe as you watch the show at home?
Tom: The animosity of Russell toward Rob.Â That should be the guy he’s aligning with, but his ego won’t allow him to do it.Â God forbid it’s not the Russell Show.Â He’s going to go after Rob when the two of them could be natural allies and both play this game well together.Â Not that Rob isn’t playing as villainous a game as he had in the past, but if you do have a bit of the villain role, you want another villain across from you at a final vote.
Question: Other than winning, what is the biggest difference between this season and Palau?
Tom: Palau was a much more organic experience where it really was 20 strangers.Â There was a lot of sitting around and getting to know one another.Â This one here, everybody came in had already decided the chopping block for you, and getting rid of Steph.Â All that stuff being pre-planned, and to sit around some of these people, that’s the only conversation they have is what they did in their season of Survivor.Â To listen to one more conversation about the weather in Panama or what it was like in Pearl Islands.Â Or what appearances they’ve done or where they get free food in LA.Â It’s just like, enough really.
Images courtesy of CBS.