This is the 13th in a series of interviews with Survivor Heroes vs. Villains cast members.
I did not talk to Russell Hantz before Survivor Heroes vs. Villains started, because he wasn’t with the 19 other cast members in Los Angeles for pre-season interviews. The reason why isn’t exactly clear; enough time passed between Samoa and all-stars that crew members returned home briefly, so I doubt they kept him there. I’d guess producers just didn’t want to introduce him into the mix until the last possible minute.
Whatever happened, and whatever happens, I can’t imagine Russell’s devastation during the live Samoa finale, never mind his exceptional bitterness, means anything other than his quick elimination from the 20th season. But I’ve been wrong about Russell before.
He has two big disadvantages going into the game, besides whatever fatigue comes from playing two seasons back-to-back: First, he hasn’t watched any of his season on TV, so he has no idea how others responded to him, especially privately in their confessionals. Combine with his arrogance about his game play despite his loss, that indicates that he’ll try to play roughly the same game. Second, no one knows who he is, so he’s a huge wild card. Although some contestants have admitted to me in their interviews that they don’t know some of their fellow competitors, it’s likely that everyone will be known by someone–everyone, that is, except Russell. He’ll have to bond with them quickly to get them to keep him around; otherwise, it makes sense to dump him.
Anyway, I requested an interview with Russell to learn what his strategy was going into tihs season, but he wasn’t being made available, not that he would have been able to say much beyond what he said in post-season interviews. Instead, I was offered his CBS.com interview, in which he’s his typical arrogant self (“I thought that I could do it, now I just know I can do it”), although he is kind of funny when he’s referring to the all-stars: “The first time, I went to teach myself a lesson. Now I’m going to teach all these brats a lesson.”
That’d be entertaining, but I suspect it’ll be the other way around.