September 27, 2013 09:00 AM by Ryan Haidet
Rupert Boneham is without question one of the most popular castaways ever to compete on Survivor. He’s so popular with viewers that CBS made him the second player in the show’s 27-season history to compete four times (“Boston Rob” Mariano is the other). The three times he played before, Rupert made it fairly deep into the game — especially Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains. But this time, Survivor: Blood Vs. Water left him swimming with the sharks very very early. I had the chance to chat with Rupert today about his early demise from the game. Does he regret anything? Would he play again? Did he ever consider voting out his own wife? You can read all the details in our one-on-one interview inside this story!
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When you were the first booted out of the game, you said you couldn’t believe it. Can you believe it today?
Rupert Boneham: Well, it’s sinking in. I went out on my fourth time on Survivor and I’m the first one out. I would have never in a million years thought I would be the first one out. But here I am.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: You said that you didn’t regret switching positions with your wife, essentially voting yourself out to go to Redemption Island in her place. Any regrets looking back now?
Rupert Boneham: Not at all. I would make the same decision every time that scenario would have come up. I said to Laura before we left, “They’re probably, sooner or later, they’re going to get us in a situation where we’re going to be against each other. No matter what, I am not writing your name down. I am there to make sure that we both make it further.” It’s tough to deal with that I had to make that choice. But, oh my gosh, I love my wife. No matter how much I love the game, it is still just a game. My wife is my life.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When you watched the first episode at home and heard some of your tribemates say they were upset you swapped places with Laura because they didn’t want to play with her, how did you react? Was it tough to hear?
Rupert Boneham: That did bother me a little watching it on TV. It made me realize even more how easy it would have been for me to dig into that tribe and make it far. Almost guaranteed to make the merge. Then, gosh, if we would have been where I think we would’ve, we would have made final four or final three.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Explain that first night when you and Laura spent time alone on the beach. Did you think it was a real possibility that you would be competing together?
Rupert Boneham: I thought, “Oh my gosh.” We cuddled. We laid there. I thought, “We’re going to do this for the next 39 days, this is gonna be the greatest Survivor ever!” Then we walk in and Jeff says, “Why are you guys all smiling? Why are you so happy? We’re separating you. You’re on opposite tribes.” My heart fell. I knew that would probably happen, but I didn’t think it would happen in the first few minutes.”
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Was there any question in your mind on which family member you wanted to compete with?
Rupert Boneham: When CBS called me up and said, “We want to have you back on Survivor, but we want you to bring a loved one,” I did not right away give them my wife. She’s seen the game. She’s seen how hard it is. She knows what beating you go through. I didn’t want to be the one to drag Laura into the game. I wanted her to volunteer to play the game – and she didn’t right away. So I gave them my brother, my cousin, my nephew, different people in my family that I probably, honestly, wouldn’t have laid my life (in the game) down for. After about a week, Laura comes to me and says, “Why didn’t you give them my name? I want to play the game.” That stopped it all. I called up CBS and said, “Here, talk to Laura. If you like her, we’ll go play the game.” Now we’re out playing the game – well, at least Laura is.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Would you daughter have been old enough to compete?
Rupert Boneham: Rhea is only 14 years old. She sees the pain of Survivor. She’s a little more down to earth. She’s not real crazy about being in front of the camera. There is no way. If they have a family Survivor where you bring in your kids too, Rhea would never play the game.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: What was Rhea’s reaction watching both mom and dad compete?
Rupert Boneham: Before we left for the game, Rhea was very worried that Laura would get beat up. She had seen me come back dropping 50-60 pounds, beaten, battered, bloody, scarred and scraped. Rhea was worried about Laura getting hurt in the game. When Rhea and I are able to sit down and watch the game together, she’s seeing it’s not that hard on Laura. Laura is pretty tough. It will be neat to watch Rhea see her mom in a different light.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When didn’t get to see a whole lot of your time on Redemption Island with Candice. What did the two of you talk about when there truly is nothing but time to kill?
Rupert Boneham: (Laughs) If you saw Heroes Vs. Villains, you know that I’m not really crazy about Candice. I used to tell her all the time she’s a flip-flopper, she’s hurting our tribe, she’s hurting the alliance, I never really had a great relationship with her. When we were out on the island together, oh my gosh. Within the first few hours, I looked right at her and said, “There’s only one of us coming off this island. Hopefully it’s me. But don’t expect me to do everything. Don’t expect me to cook all the food and to take care of everything. You’re on your own.” She didn’t like that. I would go out when she would go to sleep and catch a few lobsters, clams and different stuff. I’d cook them up real quick while she was asleep, but she caught me one time doing it. (Laughs) That made the relationship even worse.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: So there really wasn’t much bonding?
Rupert Boneham: If Candice was awake, I always tried to go to sleep.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When Marissa showed up, were you surprised, disappointed, excited?
Rupert Boneham: When Marissa showed up that night, I was thrilled it wasn’t Laura. That was my only hope. I would take anybody but Laura. I did not want my Laura to show up on Redemption Island. In my head still believed that I was going to beat whoever showed up.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Before the game began, do you and Laura ever discuss the possibility that you might have to vote against each other?
Rupert Boneham: I told Laura that there is no way, there is no scenario that I would ever right her name down. But if we got to a point where we were coming down to the end and the tribe was buzzing against me, it would be OK for her to vote against me. It would make sure that she could make it to the end. She never said she would write my name down.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: What was tougher… Getting voted out of the game first or living with Johnny Fairplay?
Rupert Boneham: (Laughs) Most definitely, having to decide to put myself in jeopardy and walking out of the game first, was the hardest thing on Survivor I’ve ever done. Little Johnny Fairplay, there were a few times where I would grab a hold of him, look right at him and say, “If this was a real pirate adventure we would have already eaten you.”
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Do you ever talk to him?
Rupert Boneham: Oh, yeah. We still talk every once in a while. I tell him all the time, “If you weren’t such a bad guy, people wouldn’t have realized that I was such a good guy.”
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: How does a game like Survivor compare to your campaign for governor of Indiana.
Rupert Boneham: When I ran for governor of Indiana, it was the joke that I was on another form of Survivor – but on the political trail. In politics, you can eat every day, shower, sleep in a bed and every night I’m be home with my wife. Politics is a mean, disgusting game sometimes. But Survivor, honestly, I have to say, with the elements that beat you down so much, I’ve never went through such a hard thing as Survivor. It’s the ultimate test for your body, mind and sould.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: If ever given the opportunity to go back and play for a fifth time, would you? Or are you done?
Rupert Boneham: Every time I leave the darn game I say, “I’m never playing again!” Then a few days go by, few weeks, few months and I think, “Well I could do it one more time.” Now I’m to the point where if CBS wants me back, you’re darn right I’m coming back! But if I bring my wife again, I’m not going to lay my life down for her anymore.
Photos courtesy of CBS.