Mick Trimming: “sometimes instinctively, I’ll put the needs of others before my own”

This is the first of my Survivor Samoa interviews, which will be archived together, and you can now explore past seasons on similar pages, complete with pictures: Survivor Gabon cast interviews and Survivor Tocantins cast interviews. As always, thanks for not copying and pasting this entire post elsewhere online (here’s why). Feel free, of course, to quote and link back.

Mick TrimmingFrom his resume, appearance, and even name, Mick Trimming seems like the kind of person I’d automatically want to hate, if only because he’s far more perfect than I’ll ever be, and could easily be totally arrogant and annoying about that. Besides that, he looks like a model/actor, but he’s not at all what you might expect, which was evident when I asked him if he expected to use his time on Survivor Samoa to catapult into a career in entertainment, abandoning his life as a physician.

“I don’t see it changing my life’s path,” he said, since it’s been a “long, long road, so to diverge from that at this point would be senseless. … I don’t have any delusions out of making something big out of this, other than what it is immediately.” Besides not being a delusional famewhore, he’s thoughtful and obviously intelligent, and also humble, saying at one point, “I’m in pretty good shape,” when clearly, he’s pretty ripped.

A resident anesthesiologist at UCLA, Mick planned to finish his residency when he returned from the competition, and then start a fellowship at Cedars-Sinai. When he approached his future boss to ask, essentially, to defer the start of that fellowship, Mick said, “The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘You better fucking win this.’ So, I was like, ‘All right. This is the place for me. It definitely turned me more on to the program, so a little bit of pressure there.’”

Mick was recruited for Survivor after having an argument with his (still current) girlfriend. He went to meet a friend for a drink, where a casting producer approached him. “Essentially, everything I told her was a lie,” Mick said, but he got her card anyway, showed up for the casting, and obviously made the show. (Listen to him tell the story in its entirety below; he’s a great storyteller, and it’s pretty funny.)

In the game, Mick told me his strategy is “to start off under the radar a little bit, not try to ruffle any feathers, not cause too many waves—any more analogies I can think of?” The self-awareness demonstrated as he caught himself using those cliches was definitely something I think can help him in the game, where he wants to “get things done, be sort of the dependable guy who is not going to try to control things right at the get go. I’m not going to be the guy that’s ordering people around right away or calling people out if they’re lazy or messy, because people hate that.”

His under-the-radar strategy will be difficult, though, and I actually think it’s going to be a near impossibility for him to not be a dominant leader, especially if his tribe is full of fuck-ups. “If there are a lot of people that are passive, I hope to be able to help organize and get people through,” he told me later in our conversation, which sounds like he’s almost desperate to lead. What if, as we know will happen, the tribe votes for someone else as their leader in the show’s opening moments?

While he expects that “sloppy, lazy people that leave their stuff strewn everywhere … or people who aren’t keeping up on hygiene … will drive me a little crazy,” Mick also recognizes that “the annoying personality types got the boot pretty quickly, people that really clashed within their tribes got ousted pretty quickly.” As you can hear below, he’s quiet and even comes off as somewhat passive, so perhaps he can hide those tendencies well.

Beyond the leadership issue, he told me it’s important to have “at least one really solid alliance … and sort of build around that,” so he can get “feedback from other cliques or groups that you don’t have immediate access to.” He also plans to “keep people who are not the group favorite’s kind of close” so “maybe at the end you end up with someone who’s not quite as likable, and you’re more likely to win it.”

Even though we talked strategy, Mick acknowledged, “the strategy part, I don’t have ironed out yet, I’m sort of winging it. … Once you really meet these people … then you can have a little stronger approach.” While Mick said he’d lie to win, also said that if he makes promises about not voting for people, “I really want to stick to those.” He’s aware that future employers or others might see him and think, “I saw that guy on Survivor, and he’s a total prick,” so Mick said he’ll “definitely keep that in mind.”

Another potential challenge: “Sometimes I can be a little more passive about things than I need to be, and sometimes instinctively, I’ll put the needs of others before my own,” Mick said. “I think I need to realize that the goal is to win the thing and not to help somebody else win the damn thing. It’s kind of why I gravitated toward medicine. It sounds cliche, but I like helping people out. I just have to keep that in check, and instead of helping them, just stomp on them while they’re down.”

He’s had help preparing for the game, as his girlfriend “researched like crazy,” Mick said. “She’s just like, ‘I want you to know as much as you can. If you’re going to do this, I want you to win it, and I want to be supportive.’”

By the way, Mick came back at the end of the day and I interviewed him again because, for the first time ever, I had technical difficulties: my first two interviews, Mick and Marisa, were recorded on what I discovered was a faulty memory card. Both re-answered questions with ease, and of course, all the contestants talked to four separate outlets—CBS, TV Guide, Comcast, and me—and thus naturally answered some similar questions over and over again. Mick was totally great about doing that yet again, and even joked as he complimented the other media: “As many times as they’ve done the same thing, they’re still pretty excited to meet you; they don’t make you feel like you’re another asshole doing this.”

Hear Mick talk about possible frustrations with fellow tribemates and tell the story of being recruited for the show, which includes why his girlfriend was initially “furious”:

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