CBS Local – CBS aired Season 34, Episodes 8 & 9 of Survivor: Game Changes, and we had the chance to interview the recent castoffs, Hali Ford and Ozzy Lusth. Both of these players had their torches snuffed for different reasons in the double episode.
Here’s their unique perspectives (as told to CBS Local’s Samantha Bennet and Adam Bloom) on being voted off the island as well as insight into their game play and what they thought of their competition as the jury continues to grow in the game.
Episode 8 Castoff: Hali
AB: Congrats on making it to the merge. It’s so fun for us to watch the show and see you guys get as far as you do, but, I don’t know if from your perspective, if you look at it as a ‘congratulations.’
H: [laughing] No. It is quite disappointing.
SB: Everyone says that the person who gets voted out right before the merge is the worst vote, but I actually think that when you got voted out was the worst. Because you have that taste of the merge, and you think you made it, and then it gets taken away from you.
H: Yeah, I mean, I would take merge over pre-merge every day of the week but I think. Well this happened for me in both of my seasons. The first vote after the merge should be the most strategic of the game, where the line should be drawn in the sand. Both times that I got voted out I was a dumb vote, it just didn’t make sense, nobody was making a big move. That’s what really frustrated me. This is a season of game-changers and no one was willing to pick draw sides or pick sides.
AB: What was your strategy coming into this game compared to the last time you played?
H: My first game I wasn’t thinking independently. I wasn’t in the game. I was more into this, sort of, internal space. I was thinking about home basically. This game I was all in. I was completely present. I was excited to be playing. My strategy going in was to lay low and paint myself as a non-threat, which I tried to do throughout the game, to kind of tell people that I was a goat. But I was completely confident and when it got to that final vote I’d be able to make an argument as to why I deserved a million dollars. If I could make it to the end, I wasn’t concerned that people would perceive me as a goat. I mean, if they did that would be tragic but I’ve never really felt that. But that was my strategy and I think it’s true, to an extent; there were people in the game who were much bigger threats than me. So, you know, I think it was a strong argument to make.
SB: To be honest, you didn’t really seem too surprised that you got voted out. Did you know it was coming?
H: I didn’t know it was coming until after the merge and pretty much the last day that I was on the game. Before that I had, an apparently incorrect notion, that Brad and Sierra were still wanting to work with me.. Now that I can see all the conversations that were happening, I was in a much more precarious position than I thought.
AB: Was there one thing that they didn’t show on the show that you wish they would have shown? Or surprised they didn’t show?
H: On the last day I got a lot of tweets, “why didn’t you fight for yourself,” or “why didn’t you run on and talk to people.” I ran on to talk to people the entire day. I was pitching myself like I did at tribal council, to Brad, Cirie, Sierra, telling them how I was a dumb vote, pull the numbers in right now. I told them, ‘Hey, if we just get Debbie and Aubrey, we have this thing.’ I mean, I was scrambling for my life that day and that didn’t come out. And that’s okay because there were other people who were just carrying a lot more weight but that’s the only thing that stood out to me.
AB: At tribal, I thought it was really brilliant, you kept talking about how you would strip down or open your bag. Would you have really done that?
H: Yes, if someone told me to, absolutely. Why did they think I had an idol? I was shocked, stunned and just perplexed that I was about to go home because someone actually thought I had an idol. If that was such a big deal why didn’t they make an effort to just look in my bag. I was more than happy to show everyone. But I didn’t think that that was actually going to change the vote. It was a cop out. I thought my entire vote was just a cop out. But maybe they really did think that I had an idol.
AB: I just think that it was a smart play to put that out there. It really was.
H: [laughing] Well, it didn’t work.
SB: Are there any moves that you wish you had made or any regret that you now have looking back on this, watching the episode as it was edited?
H: Yeah, my biggest regret of the game was at the Metamorphosis challenge. I had spoken with Troyzan and Brad and a lot of people on the beach about, maybe not Brad maybe just Troyzan. I really wanted to throw that challenge. And then, I had the power to throw that challenge because I had the knowledge of that word and I could have gone over and told Jeff, or someone on the other side that I trusted, but I didn’t do that. Now looking back, I was more on the outs than I thought, I thought Cirie was on the outs, but I don’t know what would have happened if we had gone to tribal that night but I think that I really could have turned the tides if I’d done that, but I didn’t.
AB: What’s your favorite part of the game overall, looking back?
H: I love tribal council. It reminds me of being in the court room. I love being on the hot seat and having to argue a case. That’s my favorite part of the game. It’s where I really come alive. Unfortunately, that’s not the most important part of the game at all and it hardly matters. Usually the decisions are made by the time you get there.
SB: Do you think any of your skills as an attorney have translated over into your playing of Survivor? Or vice versa, how have your survivor skills helped you in the court room?
H: I think it’s more of the second. I think Survivor really helped me be an attorney. The last time I went on I had just passed the bar, I wasn’t even sworn in yet. And just being in interviews and tribal council teaches you how to have a succinct persuasive argument prepared and you need to present it and be on your feet. Playing the game and interacting with other survivors teaches you a lot about how to stay in other people’s good graces. In Survivor and in law, you really need to be real because people can see through any fake-ness and farce. So, I think, in Survivor, when you’re fighting for your life, it’s like a crash course in social interactions. So I think it really prepped me for those interactions with other attorneys that really matter for people’s lives.
AB: Do you have crazy dreams when you’re out there? What do you dream about when you’re on the island?
H: Yeah, I do! Most of them were about back home but I still remember dreams that I had from my first season. It’s like you’re on LSD or something. I heard that you dream the most when your brain is less stimulated during the day, so the less stimulation you have consciously you’re gonna have crazier dreams, so I think that’s what it is. It’s like stimulus under load. So, you do have crazy dreams. And there’s also nothing else to talk about.
AB: Once you’re on the jury, are you in your own clothes or is somebody styling you because you don’t know how much you’re supposed to bring?
H: Oh yeah, so, in Nicaragua we were pretty much sequestered but this season we got to go out to Fiji, so, all of the wardrobe that you’re going to see from this point forward is from a Fijian thrift store. Yeah, it was really fun. My dress last night, I had to bring that dress, but I cut it up and sewed it up at Ponderosa, it was originally a maxi dress but I restyled it.
Episode 9 Castoff: Ozzy
AB: Congratulations. A pretty amazing show last night. Last week’s tribal council with Zeke – it really felt like a historic TV moment. Now that a week has passed- I’m just curious if you have any other reflections on being a part of it.
O: I do. I think that the beauty of this is that, kind of like, art representing life. It’s a great opportunity for the entire world to see, all the way up to our President of the United States, to see that we’re all people and that we’re not labeled. Transgender, gay, straight, we all deserve the same rights. When people finally realize that and we all fight for everybody to have the same exact rights as everybody else, that’s going to be a great day for humanity.
SB: Moving on to the latest episode, I know, frankly, those blindsides are fabulous for us to watch, but not so much for the person who gets targeted. Now that you saw, kind of clearly, during that episode the mad dash that Debbie made. How surprised were you that no one really ended up protesting her decision to vote you out?
O: I’m not surprised. I mean, I know I’m a big player in this game and I don’t blame them for trying to take me out as soon as possible. So, I’m just a little bit surprised that Debbie threw my name out there, at that point, because I thought that Debbie and I did have a good thing going. And, I was, you know, I was always pretty honest with her. So I was surprised at that.
SB: Do you regret then not making any big moves sooner in the game?
O: The only real regret I have is not [having] the potential to have played with Sandra. But then again, Sandra is such a dangerous player that, she said in her exit that she would have been on my side but you try and trust the people you have the longest relationship with in the game. And that’s really what I did. I put too much trust in, what I thought was a pretty solid alliance and I should have known that people were going to try to make big moves as a game-changing season.
AB: So, when you watch the show back, I’m just curious, what’s the best and worst part of watching the show so many months later?
O: The best part about watching it months and months later is [that] you forget all the pain and all of the uncomfortable feelings and you just, kind of, get back there and remember how incredibly beautiful this world is and how just insanely beautiful the location, we were out in Fiji. You know, how special it is to have the opportunity to take a month and a half out of your life to go and play, what I think is the greatest game that’s ever been created. And to be able to do that, [I’m] just such a lucky person. One of the worst things is watching the people that you thought were your friends/allies just treat you like a pawn and are willing to throw all of the work that you did, up until that point, just throw it away because they decide to be a mini dictator for a day.
AB: And that’s the first time you’re actually able to see that, right, when you’re watching it the way everybody else is watching it?
O: Well, once you make it on the jury and you watch everyone else exit after you, you start gleaming little bits and pieces of the story. You start putting it together a little bit, but nothing does it justice like watching somebody, you know, say, “you know what? Let’s throw out Ozzy.” It’s just so painful because [I] basically caught fish and kept Debbie in the game the entire time and all she has to do is decide on a whim to get rid of me and that’s it.
SB: Your final message to them at the end saying, : “Good luck eating” was quite a burn. Was anybody else really getting fish? Or were they hurting themselves getting you out much earlier than I think many people anticipated?
O: The problem is, when you take somebody like me out of the game, it does put a lot of pressure on somebody like Brad. And Brad, you know, he can get fish. He’s not as good fisherman as I am, but he is able to get a little bit. It also gives him a lot of power because now he is going to be the one who gets to decide who does get to eat and who doesn’t. And for everybody else, it’s gonna weaken them tremendously. And anybody who was in my alliance, now all of a sudden, they have to hope that they have a good strategy going forward because I was going to be a loyal person, that’s obviously the way I play this game. I was going to be a loyal person ‘til the end. So, if they don’t have their strategy figured out, it’s going to be very difficult for them to make it further in this game.
AB: In all the challenges that you’ve played on Survivor, did you have one that you felt was the most difficult, and that you dreaded doing?
O: Yeah, that last challenge was definitely the worst challenge that I’ve ever done on Survivor. It is, by far, the hardest thing that I’ve ever done and after an hour and a half it just becomes physical. There is just nothing I could do to keep my muscles from just letting go. And Tai, I gotta hand it to him; he is just, pound for pound, an incredibly strong player. He’s like a little spider monkey.
AB: It was so impressive to watch. I can’t see how you could even practice something like that. It was just really incredible.
SB: And, do you think the confidence that you had going into that challenge, because you’ve done it twice before and have won twice before, and everyone else’s confidence in you to win actually, hurt you more?
O: No, I don’t really think that there was any if, ands or buts about it. Tai is a stubborn player. He loves playing the game. He wanted to push himself and I think that he just wanted to win for himself. I don’t think he had any malice in his heart he just wanted to beat me. I don’t think there is anything that could have stopped him. He could have stayed up there, he looked kind of okay. I think he could have stayed up there another half hour. There was absolutely no way I was gonna be able to do that.
AB: I was afraid that your muscles would numb up, and you’re so high up, that you would just fall. It looked like a pretty big fall.
O: Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t even lowering myself down. I was just trying to hold on. I couldn’t hold on very well so it looked like I was lowering myself down.
SB: And, it’s not like it’s only sunny with a nice breeze. The environment must also play a huge factor.
O: It was hot as hell. Hot as hell.
AB: I have a random question. At night, when you fall asleep, do you dream about being on the island or about being home?
O: When you’re out there? Both. You actually dream a lot and it is really, really vivid because you’re only really sleeping around three hours at a time and you’re obviously not drinking , there’s no substances, there’s no food, there’s nothing, so your mind is really clear. Your mind is really active, so you dream like the craziest you’ve ever dreamt in your life. That’s actually one of the big topics that we all have. We wake up and it’s like, “Oh my God, I dreamt about..” and we tell each other. Usually I hate when other people tell me their dreams, I’m like “I really don’t give a crap what you dreamt, it doesn’t matter to me,” but, when you’re out there, it’s just another fun topic of conversation.
Tune in on Wednesday, April 26, at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS to see the episode 10 of Survivor: Game Changers, A Line Drawn in the Concrete.