December 09, 2011 08:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Polarizing. That may be the best word to describe John Cochran on Survivor: South Pacific. The nerd with translucent skin has created so much buzz with fans on both sides of the spectrum — many love him, while others couldn’t wait for his time on the show to end. Now that he’s been officially eliminated from the show after losing the latest duel to Ozzy, Cochran, a self-admitted superfan of the show, spent some time chatting with reporters about his experience in the game. Read on to find out what he had to say!
Question: Being a fan of the show, what is the major difference from watching it at home to actually competing?
John Cochran: The difference is, and I think I even kind of said it on the show, it’s like I entered the game and you see the little pregame interviews where I say, “I’m the most Survivor savvy guy in the world. I’m gonna redefine the game of Survivor.” I go in with all this kind of theoretical knowledge about the game, about what strategies work and what doesn’t. Then I get there and I felt like I was surrounded by people that all the theoretical knowledge in the world wasn’t going to help me. Ozzy was already immediately off the bat kind of throwing my name around. Just a sense of powerlessness right off the bat was what was most jarring for me. I always envisioned I would at least, at some point, had a conversation with somebody where I said, “Let’s get rid of so and so tonight.” I never had that sort of conversation. Every conversation I had was, “It’s not gonna be me tonight, right?” Then they’d say, “No, no, no. It’s gonna be Elyse.” It’s like, “Oh, thank God.” That was my experience. It wasn’t quite as much me calling the shots. When you’re applying for Survivor you imagine yourself calling the shots, I think. And the realization that that’s not what it was like, that was the most startling thing.
Question: Do you still feel like the Upolu tribe owed you for the big move you made?
John Cochran: Before I did that little speech where I’m in my underpants and I’m standing before the entire tribe, Coach and I talked about it. He was like, “Say this. Say you’re indebted.” Basically, he coached me on what to say. So then I would walk away and they would all deliberate. So he was like, “Look, you say your thing. Then we’ll argue on your behalf” (Coach and Albert). I’m not that delusional to think that saying, “You owe me,” is the best strategy in the world. There’s no universe to which that’s like an endearing or convincing argument. But I said in some confessionals that I feel that’s more of me masking my humiliation at the fact I was going to be eliminated soon. Instead of saying, “Man, I feel like an idiot.” I’d say, “Man, they owe me.” You don’t owe anybody anything in Survivor, so saying that was kind of stupid on my part. There’s probably a part of me that felt that way.
Question: What’s your take on Rick?
John Cochran: He’s like the strong, silent type. His portrayal actually isn’t completely inaccurate. He’s a super hard worker — the hardest worker around camp, by far. He’s a really sweet guy. He’s a real, honest, loyal straight-shooter. But the problem is, he wasn’t going to work with me because he is kind of out of the Brandon mold: “I’ve made my word and I’m sticking to it.” He doesn’t seem like a super scheme player, he’s more of like a camping enthusiast. I had joked that he’s applied 14 times, but I get the sense it’s not because he wants to be the next Rob Cesternino, I think it’s because he likes to watch people camp on TV. So he’s like, “OK, let me participate in that.” But he is a sweet guy. He’s a nice, friendly guy. But I don’t think they are hiding any great strategic moves of his.
Question: What about Sophie?
John Cochran: Sophie is obviously one of the smartest people out there. She’s actually a really good challenge competitor. Her game play is interesting in that she’s in a good position and Albert is in a good position. But where they differ is that Albert seems to be eager to make some big moves, where Sophie is always kind of shooting down these aspirations. One thing about Sophie is that she slept a lot. She would sleep for like 14 hours a day. …
Question: Did Edna really not know she was sixth until she was sixth?
John Cochran: That was always frustrating. You see the footage on like day two of Brandon telling her she’s sixth — although I kind of get where she’s coming from. If Brandon comes up to you and says you’re sixth, you might not necessarily believe it. But it should have given her enough suspicion that she should have asked around. I don’t know. She was the only person that was willing to do something at that point, but it was too late. It should have been Dawn, Whitney, me, Albert and Edna. Albert and I were toying with the idea of inviting Edna into that plan. But then we were worried that she would just run and tell Coach, ’cause she and Coach were very very close. She felt indebted to Coach because he apparently was kind of the reason that she stayed as long in the game as she did. Then we had to focus on Sophie who didn’t want to do it. And Rick didn’t want to do it. It’s frustrating because it seems like it would make sense for the people that are four, five and six at Upolu to team up with me and take out one, two, three.
Question: Had you initially started the game on Upolu, was there anybody over there you felt you had a connection with?
John Cochran: I would have been golden on Upolu! I’m confident. First off, I would have been part of that five, at least. This all sounds like I’m trying to cover for something, but I do think that Coach, Albert, Sophie and I would have gotten along swimmingly. I mean, you see confessionals of Sophie saying she hates my guts and I’m annoying. Then she’s like imagining my head on a branch while she’s feverishly chopping at it with a machete. But I do think we all would have gotten along. I think that would have been a really good team for me. Clearly they’re doing fine without me, so I don’t mean to say they would have like benefited greatly from my presence there. But I think we would have connected. Probably would have been a good group.
Question: Having experience with both guys, who would you rather see win, Coach or Ozzy?
John Cochran: I’m not going to base my vote on personal feelings at all. It’s all gonna be about who I feel played the better game and who can defend their game at final Tribal Council. My problem with Ozzy would be that he’s using Redemption Island to his advantage, which is great. If they throw a twist like that at you, exploit it. Jeff used to say before final Tribal Council, “Now the responsibility shifts to the people you had a hand in voting out.” Ozzy, by spending like 80 percent of the game on Redemption Island, if he returns he won’t have been responsible for voting off anybody. I’m a Survivor purist. But if he says, “Look, I’m using Redemption Island. They gave it to me. I’m using it.” Instead of just kind of saying, “I won a bunch of challenges.” He is using it. …
Coach, I think he’s doing a really impressive job. He’s obviously using a very different approach from Ozzy. He managed to change his reputation to create this super dedicated alliance. It would all depend on how they pitch it at final Tribal Council. I wouldn’t go into final Tribal thinking I’m gonna vote for Ozzy, or I’m gonna vote for Coach, or I’m gonna vote for Rick or whoever is in the finals.
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Photos courtesy: CBS