This is the 18th in a series of interviews with Survivor Heroes vs. Villains cast members.
The first time I talked to Tyson, he compared himself to Jesus, and in the first few minutes of our latest conversation, he compared himself to God when we talked about whether or not he’ll be different this season. “I’m not going to be boring. I refuse. How can you withhold all this awesomeness from America?” I said he’s not capable of that, and Tyson said, “I don’t think I am. The one thing I’m not capable of; it’s like God, he has to live by his own rules.”
In Tocantins, Tyson was known for his witty and biting (I’d say) or arrogantly obnoxious and vile (others would argue) commentary, and while there was still some of that Tyson present during our interview, he acknowledged that he had changed. “Was I as enjoyable as last time?” he asked, and then agreed with my assessment: “I am a little bit more mellow.” Earlier, he said, “We all strive to improve. If we’re not improving, you’re the opposite of improving.” Tyson told me that his girlfriend wasn’t thrilled with the idea of him returning for a second season, because “I think her family wasn’t super-impressed with all my shenanigans, but I was like, I’m impressed with them, and all that matters is numero uno,” he laughed.
His “shenanigans” reached their peak before he was voted off, when he was berating Sierra, and he won’t do that again. “I need to make sure everything’s strategic and nothing’s personal,” Tyson said. “I feel like I played that way last time except with Sierra,” adding “that really was stupid” to go after her. “If I would have told Sierra she was pretty and smart, she would have voted however I wanted her to,” Tyson said.
As a result, Tyson will play differently and be “more cutthroat. I got screwed last time by maybe not playing as hard as I could have at a certain point in the game, this time, I’m chopping everybody down. I hope I make every person cry, even the manly men,” he said, referring to them being voted out, not berating them like he did to Sierra. “I’m smart enough and personable enough that trying to convince somebody to vote a different way isn’t going to be that difficult,” which Tyson said he “didn’t do that last time, and I even thought about” it. “I need to prepare for Tribal Council like I’m being voted out,” he said.
However, he’s confident what worked for him last time will work again. “Pre-merge I’ll probably play pretty similar to what I did last time, which is, blast through the challenges, help my team win as many of them as I can, keep it on the down-low and don’t be confrontational with anybody if I can.” He said he wants to “win all the immunities all the way to the finale; that would be pretty sweet.”
Tyson’s not kidding about winning individual immunity, because in a non-joking way, said that he thinks he’s the strongest physically. “The physical competitors aren’t here, really. If I look at that group, I think I’m the strongest one here,” Tyson said. “I probably can’t bench press more than James, but I can run faster, swim faster, have more endurance, and I’m smarter at doing puzzles. That’s how I feel about most everybody. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s going to give me a real run for my money in any of the challenges.” Back to joking, he added, “I assume I’m one of the smartest people here.”
Tyson maintained that returning to the game after less than a year won’t really impact him, and he also said, “I probably care less about the survival aspect of it” because “you have a whole group of people; somebody’s going to be able to do this stuff.” (Hear him discuss another aspect of returning below.) Tyson’s preparation involved eating more than usual: “I’m about 10 pounds heavier than when I started last time, and it’s not so much preparation as I figure I’m going to lose it anyways.”
When I asked about pre-season alliances, Tyson said, “no, not really,” and he laughed “just because I’m sure everybody’s talking to everybody, and it’s just ridiculous. Why talk to people six months before the game starts? It’s pretty hard to lie for six months straight.” As to his fellow Survivor Tocantins castmates Coach and JT, Tyson said, “I’m going to go into the game with a pretty open mind. If they benefit me, great, but I’m not going to favor them at all.”
When we talked about the impact an all-star season has, Tyson said, “I would like people who haven’t played three times,” and cited Rupert and James “we saw them, and they were exactly the same both times, so to see them exactly the same for the third time, snore.” He expects that the heroes and villains twist (which he was skeptical was even true) won’t last long. “I don’t think they’ll keep it heroes and villains for very long,” he said. “I was kind of hoping they were going to turn the heroes into villains with the editing.”
Listen to Tyson discuss why being on Survivor for a second time actually makes him less excited for the experience: