March 14, 2013 05:59 PM by Ryan Haidet
Brandon Hantz says he’s a changed man, which is why he wants to play Survivor for a third time. But this time, he wants to go toe-to-toe with his infamous uncle Russell Hantz. He even suggested that he’d be fine with just the two of them duking it out for the entire 39 days through a series of challenges. That was the one component Brandon repeatedly told reporters on a conference call the day the episode aired in which he was vocally voted out by his Bikal tribemates on Survivor: Caramoan — Fans Vs. Favorites. Despite losing his temper and exploding at Phillip Sheppard in the biggest meltdown the show has ever seen, Brandon explained that he doesn’t regret a thing about his time on the show — not even dumping out his tribe’s food. Why? He felt like they snatched his $1 million away, so he was going to take their rations away. Brandon also offered insight into more about the argument with Phillip before dishing his feelings about being labeled as a crazy person. Buckle in, folks! This is an interesting interview…
Question: Now that the show has aired, what do you want people to know about what happened and how it was portrayed?
Brandon Hantz: Obviously, Phillip was annoying. He did stuff that was over-the-top and not necessary. But I think people kind of already understand that. I don’t think they really need clarification on how annoying he was. He got aggressive first, I mean, really he did. That’s no excuse for what I did, but dude, it’s clear as crystal. He said straight-up he was a street fighter. I wasn’t even thinking about getting physical. It wasn’t even a question. He thought about it before I did. I don’t know if he was really prepared to do what he said he was gonna do if I ever got aggressive with him. It kinda backfired on him a little bit (laughs).
Question: The anger that you felt, how much of that was connected to your first experience on the show?
Brandon Hantz: About 90 percent of it, really. He (Phillip) really got what I wanted to do to Coach through my aggression. It was a lot of bitterness toward last season because it was sad for me. It was hard, you know. But I grew up, man. You gotta take the good with the bad. My second Survivor experience, all-around, my edit was amazing. My edit was amazing. It was all accurate the first and second time, but it was so amazing that I let so much get to me my first time and it’s so not that big of a deal. People are going to like you and dislike you whether you play Survivor or not. It’s just on a bigger scope. I had to grow up a little bit and it’s been so amazing. Me and my wife — she’s sitting next to me right now — we enjoy this. She said, “Baby, if you ever get the chance to go play again, you better bring home a million dollars.” This, to me, it wasn’t worth it in the beginning. But now that everything happened, even our separation (from his wife), it actually got us closer together, man. I honestly can thank Survivor for doing that. It caused a lot of drama and it caused a lot of changes in me to occur. It all went to my head the first season. Everything went to my head and I allowed it to get into my marriage. If I wouldn’t have ended up separated with my wife, I wouldn’t end up realizing how much I love her now. So I’m taking the good. Every bit of good. The both of us really appreciate the whole experience. Appreciate the help on finances. Appreciate the way there’s so much good, positive things that have come from it and we really appreciate it for sure. As far as Phillip is concerned, anything that I said was related to Survivor. Nothing is going to be personal. There’s no vendetta. There’s no bitterness toward Phillip. It’s literally been a year (this season began filming shortly after Survivor: One World’s finale last May). My life has changed. I’m always growing, I’m always developing. We’re not children. It’s a game and everything for me, for Brandon, is gonna stay a game. It’s gonna stay a game from here on out.
If I have an opportunity, which I want an opportunity to compete against my uncle Russell, that’s what I want. He’s proud, finally, of the way I played the game. He’s never been more proud, he said. We’ll be on the “After Show” (CBS.com) with Parvati, and I requested that Russell sit next to me and interview with me. It’s gonna be exciting. We’re good friends now. We realize we’re a lot more alike than we thought. He cried, I cried. He got angry sometimes, I got angry sometimes. We’re like each other in a lot of ways. There’s love and respect there, but we both are very competitive and this would be no-holds-barred. If I get a chance to play again, my stipulation is I get to compete against my uncle (despite Russell previously telling me in an interview he never wanted to play again).
Question: If you don’t end up getting a chance to play Survivor again, would you view that as a disappointment and would you be happy with your legacy?
Brandon Hantz: I’m happy with it already, man. It’s been cool. It’s been great. But I’d really like that shot, man. We’re the only two family members to ever play Survivor. It would be really disappointing (to not be asked to play again) and it would be my fault because the only thing I see not allowing me to play is if they think I’m going to be physical with someone. That’s not the case. That’s not my nature and I know production knows that. It’s just really in their hands, but me and Russell are going to be on the “After Show” with Parvati expressing that I want to compete with my uncle Russell. Whether he thinks he can beat me or not, that’s a different story. That’s for later, but as far as the disappointment, yeah, of course, man. It would be an honor to play with my family. If you notice, we talk about our name constantly. Hantz. Hantz. Hantz. Hantz. That’s a pride thing. Having two Hantz’s on Survivor at one time? Do you realize how intense this family would be? Brandon and Russell gone at once? Holy crap! What’s going on? It would be so much pride out there of who would go further. Me or Russell? Me or Russell? It would be so intense, dude. I get goosebumps thinking about it. It’s not about playing with other people or playing again. I just want to compete against him. If nobody was there and it was just me and him for 39 days doing a series of challenges, that’s fine, too. It’s just the pride of who would make it further. Period.
Question: What if you and Russell teamed up for the Amazing Race?
Brandon Hantz: It just wouldn’t do the justice to how it would be if we got to compete (on Survivor). Obviously, we would be more than happy to do that, but Survivor is where it’s at. Survivor is a true competition. It really is. It brings the good and the bad out of you. I love the production so much as far as the camera crew and Jeff. They know me. …
Question: Was there one element that pushed you to the boiling point?
Brandon Hantz: It wasn’t just Phillip. I can’t blame it all on Phillip. Me and my wife, for two months, we lived in different states. We were separated for about three months. We were together just two months before I left for the show. I hadn’t got to see my kids. It was just a small moment of weakness. As you could see, it was short-lived. It’s not even worth going into the whole I wanted to give up thing. I had a lot of things going on in my life. My life is so much different now than it was before. It’s ridiculous. That’s what I want people to understand. A year has passed since I played Survivor. A year. You’re talking different life experiences. So much different stuff has happened within that year. I’ve lost family members. I’ve gone through a lot of things emotionally. I’m growing. I’m getting stronger. I’m getting better. … Not only is my physical characteristics changing, but my personality. I still have me, still Brandon. But so much has changed. You can’t judge somebody off of one in particular instance. Survivor gave me a chance to play again with being such a little girl last time. But now, I feel like I grew into my own. I know who I am. I was a hero one time, I was a villain the next. You find that happy medium and you’ve got the sole Survivor.
Question: We saw you get the most upset when Phillip mentioned something about your kids, but it wasn’t really clear what he was trying to reference. What was it that he said that set you off so much?
Brandon Hantz: To mention anyone’s kids. He could’ve just said, “Your kids,” and it made me mad. Where does my kids belong in the public eye and Survivor? They don’t. They didn’t do anything. Whether it was good or bad, he didn’t need to bring it up. It was just unnecessary. My kids didn’t do anything, they didn’t pour out the rice and beans. They didn’t do anything. They love their dad. They don’t think of their dad the way that people think of me. The reason I got mad is ’cause Phillip knew when I was wanting to give up it was because I wanted to be with my kids and my wife. It was such a rough time we had the last few months before we got on the show. It was just a low blow and that was unnecessary. That’s all I have to say about that.
Question: Did you feel bad for punishing the entire tribe by pouring out their rice and beans when the dispute was primarily between you and Phillip?
Brandon Hantz: Have you ever watched somebody get beat down before? Probably not. But if you sit there and watch them get beat down and not do something about it, well, you might as well have done it. In my opinion, Phillip took a million dollars away from me and the rest of them did, too. So I think it was a pretty fair trade to say that the rice vs. a million dollars. I really don’t feel guilty about it at all. Russell burned socks. He didn’t feel guilty about it. It’s a game. We didn’t go out to be on Buffet Island. Go fish for your food. This is Survivor. The other tribe was starving, so go do that. Be like them. I love everybody out there and I know a lot of them personally, but as far as the game is concerned, hey, you signed up, deal with it. I had to.
Question: Do you have any regrets?
Brandon Hantz: No because everything happens for a reason. I know it’s weird, but it’s just the way that I am. Everything that I did was true feelings, true emotions. I could’ve done things better, but as far as regrets or anything like that, no. I enjoyed it. … A lot of people equate what I did as quitting, but as you could see, if everyone paid attention and watched, I was up against the wall. I didn’t have a choice. The challenge would have been thrown either way. I didn’t have any choice. I do have a choice in the fact that I could have just ate it and went out like what you would call a gentleman, but this is a game. When you take away my chance to win a million dollars, ain’t no rice or beans gonna be left on that island. That’s just plain and simple. I tried to be a gentleman with Coach. That didn’t work for me. I fell on my sword, but I learned my lesson. I realize I was too nice the first time, I was too aggressive the second time. Third time? It’s gonna be a happy medium and you might see me win the million dollars. You can’t win for losing with the audience. Obviously I’m compelling, but I don’t try to be. I just be me.
Question: What are your thoughts on how Jeff Probst handled the argument?
Brandon Hantz: As far as Jeff is concerned, he was a huge deal in calming me down. I don’t think it was ever gonna get physical. It could have gotten physical, but it didn’t. It scared people. It’s weird that people would go to, “Man, he’s crazy.” Man, I’ve been in two fights, street fights, my whole life. I’ve never been to jail, guys. When someone calls you crazy, that’s a little extreme. Crazy as in mentally crazy, that’s the extreme part. Crazy as in just like, “Man, he’s crazy.” Yeah, of course! Me, Russell and a lot of other people who did Survivor, we’re all crazy. You have to be a little bit crazy to even get on the show. … But I’m a dad. I’m a husband. I’m a normal guy. I do normal life stuff. Survivor isn’t my life. It’s something I enjoy to do and I would love to do it again. I would love to compete with Russell.
Question: Did you ever consider asking Jeff Probst if you could switch to the Fans tribe before you were vocally voted out of the game?
Brandon Hantz: No, that’s a good idea. Me and Russell talked about a couple different things. I wish I could’ve just did the challenge myself. Just to kind of stick it to them. But you’re in the heat of the moment and you don’t think like that. …
Question: Were you touched when so many of your tribemates became emotional during your departure?
Brandon Hantz: No. No. Not at all. Absolutely not. I was affected by Dawn more than anything. As far as Andrea is concerned, to hear the way she was talking about me beforehand. Why would you cry about somebody you were talking smack about the last three episodes? I have no pity there. That’s acting. That’s what I call acting, class-B acting. … As a Survivor, she’s a terrible actor but in a way she’s an amazing actor because she kind of gets away with it. I don’t feel bad as far as that is concerned.
Question: As you watched this season, was there anything that surprised you?
Brandon Hantz: Just the way everybody was jumping on the crazy bandwagon. The way that Cochran disrespected me by equivalating me to a murderer. “He’s like a murderer. He gets angry, does something wrong and then is sorry afterward.” There is no reason. I’ve never even been to jail. I don’t even know what the inside of those look like. It’s a little bit disheartening that he would even equivalate me to something like that. That’s the whole playing to the camera thing, so I could understand it. No hard feelings.
Question: When you read reports in the media in which your sanity is questioned, does that bother you at all?
Brandon Hantz: The reason they question it is because the public wants to hear it. What else would be as entertaining as asking if I’m sane or not? People thrive on silly stuff like that. I don’t get offended. … When you ask me if I’m sane or not, of course I’m sane. You wouldn’t be speaking to me right now if I wasn’t sane.
Question: When you got a call to come back and play again, were you concerned about returning after the rocky experience you had the first time?
Brandon Hantz: There was a concern for me and my wife. We didn’t know if I should go out there. But it was the money. It was the money. … I definitely wish I would’ve been out there longer, but I’m happy with the way that it ended. It just showed the dynamic of my personality. I’m not trying to talk about myself as if I’m some kind of amazing, but it is what it is. I do me. I do the best. I was the only Survivor player in history to do hero one season and villain the next to such an extreme. I am really Survivor. Maybe not Survivor, but I’m reality TV. It is what it is. Instead of talking trash about myself, I kind of like to think of optimistic things. I could sit here and be like, “I regret everything,” but look, I’m taking the good with the good and the bad with the bad. I believe that I am the realest person that Survivor has ever had. I’ll never be different. I’ll always be me, always be me. I’m not crazy or whatever you want to say. Obviously, that’s what people are thinking, like, “Man he needs help.” No, it’s just like everybody gets angry, just not on TV. It’s never happened on Survivor so it was a big shock for everybody. It’s just real life. People get angry sometimes. Sometimes things get to the point where you think they’re gonna get physical. It’s not an excuse and that’s something that I never plan on doing again, getting that aggressive. There were some lines that were crossed by Phillip and everybody got to see it. The family thing shouldn’t have been brung up, but again, that wasn’t an excuse for me to get physical with him — which I didn’t. It works out. Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate your comfort and soft hands.
Would you want to see Brandon play the game again? Do you think CBS would ever seriously consider pitting Brandon against Russell? What are your thoughts on what Brandon had to say? Sound off and leave a comment below!
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Photo Credit: CBS