Longtime Survivor fans were shocked when seasoned veteran and fan favorite Rupert Boneham was the first sent home from Survivor: Blood vs. Water on Wednesday night. Now, four-time player Rupert opens up to ET about sacrificing his game for his wife, how this season has affected his marriage, and whether he would ever play again.
ETonline: This season is totally different from any other season, so in your case, you were the first to go home but you didn't get any votes cast against you, so does that make you feel a little bit better?
Rupert: You know, knowing that I never walked into Tribal Council, I never got any votes, I never even walked out onto my island, I never got into my tribe, makes me kind of feel like I didn't really play the game.
ETonline: Yeah, in a way it kind of is like that.
Rupert: So much different than my other three times on Survivor.
ETonline: Definitely, because you were probably over there on Redemption Island for a few days. What was that like? Was it just kind of you guys [being] bored, just sitting around?
Rupert: Redemption Island, honestly, being with Candice -- she's not my favorite of people. I mean we had a hard time in Heroes Vs. Villains living together, and that was with a whole tribe around us. You put her and I, just us on an island and expect us to get along... A lot of the time, I would wait for her to go to sleep, then I would go out fishing. I would catch me a little lobster or two, catch me some clams, catch me some different stuff, try and get 'em cooked and eaten before the girl wakes up.
ETonline: That's hilarious. Well, it's important to keep your strength up, so…
Rupert: Oh yes, oh gosh yes.
ETonline: I wanted to talk to you about Laura. Last night you said you love Survivor but you love your wife more. Can you talk a little bit about just basically giving Laura the chance to play the game?
Rupert: When they separated us -- because honestly we thought we were going to play together at the start -- they separated us and I start thinking, "Okay, this will still be okay, we'll make it to the merge and we'll still get to play together." And then Jeff says, "We're going to vote someone out right now." And I hear Laura's name the first time, second time, third time, fourth time -- by the fifth time, my heart was crushed. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do. And Jeff gave the option of taking her place without even knowing exactly what I was walking into. There was no way I was going to leave her in any kind of jeopardy -- I took her place. And I would do it again in a second. A million times. I would do it every time.
ETonline: Before you guys started playing, did you ever have a conversation where you decided, you know, this is our plan if we ever have to go up against each other?
Rupert: What we talked about was, if when we make it to the merge, and it's more of an individual game, if we're playing against each other, and her tribe starts targeting me, instead of going against your tribe, fall along with your tribe and don't worry about writing my name down. It will be okay. Now, I will always remember her looking at me with the big eyes saying, "There's no way I would ever write your name down," but out on the island, it's hard to explain the situation, the deprivation, the dehydration, the malnutrition, the pain that you go through. And you've got to stay with your tribe. So I always let Laura know that there would be no hard feelings. And I also told her, there's no way I would ever write her name down.
ETonline: So it was okay for her to write your name down, but…
Rupert: I would never, right. (Laughs).
ETonline: And do you think it's possible, as a family member, to go into the game, and really consider it to be just a game? And not take it personally?
Rupert: You know, every one of us Survivors that have gone out there, we'll all admit that it is a game, but every one of us still have personal issues about getting voted out, about being lied to, about being manipulated, you're darn right. And Laura and I talked about it also, before we went out, saying, this scenario could have the potential of destroying relationships, we want to make sure this empowers ours. And I'll tell you what, our relationship is even stronger now that we went through this.
ETonline: That's great. I wanted to ask you also, your wife has been in this situation three times of having to send you out into the wilderness. I can imagine any spouse would not like that idea of thinking of their spouse sleeping outside and not having shelter and not having enough food. What was it like for you when you left and you had to think about her being out there, and you're comfortable and have enough food to eat and all of that?
Rupert: You know, before we left for Survivor, even my daughter looked right at both of us and said, "You know the game about killed you three times! Why do you both want to go out there? I don't want my mom hurt, I don't want my dad hurt." But we had to. Now, going out there and being able to play the game and have the idea of loved ones with you, oh my gosh. It's something that I'm gonna remember the rest of my life and it's something I'm so happy that I got the chance to do. Now, I don't know. If Survivor asks if I ever want to play the game again with Laura, I don't know that I would actually trade if I did go out there with her again, but we'll have to see what happens in the future.
ETonline: Did you feel going into it, both of you, that being a married couple and ostensibly sharing finances and all of that, if one of you won, would you consider it to be a win for both of you?
Rupert: As long as that last name of Boneham is on the check? If Laura wins or I win, we both win. Just like when we won the All-American Tribal Council years ago. We both won.
ETonline: And do you think all of the other family members out there, do you think that all of the would feel the same way? Or do you think that there's any of them that will turn on each other towards the end?
Rupert: I know for a fact just from hearing the little bit of talk out there in the little bit of game that I was able to play, there are some that would never trade. I mean, my own tribe got mad at me for trading places with Laura. It will be interesting to see who, when it comes to their loved one, who stands up, and who stays in the game.
ETonline: Yeah that should be interesting when it comes to those challenges, it's definitely going to make the season unpredictable.
Rupert: Having so many different layers of scenarios that could happen in the Tribal Council, just like last night when they put Rachel out, thinking they're going to weaken the other tribe because Tyson's gonna trade places. Who knows if he even trades?
ETonline: I was kind of curious, the first night that they sent you out into the woods on your own, what did you guys do that night, where did you sleep?
Rupert: You know, that was my favorite night of Survivor 27. Laura and I were dropped off in the middle of nowhere on our secluded little beach. We actually for a few minutes tried to rub a few sticks together and create fire but the sun went down too quickly, I couldn't get my reading glasses out and make fire, we just didn't have enough time. So I started picking a bunch of leaves. I knew there are different leaves that are kind of a natural bug repellant. I gathered hundreds and hundreds of those leaves and made us a nice little bed. It was wonderful!
ETonline: Would you come back and play Survivor again?
Rupert: I would play Survivor again in a second! I love that darn game. There are very few tests for your body, mind and soul, and Survivor will test you to your core. Now, there's only one scenario that I can ever think about that would make me walk out of the game, and I don't think we're going to do that one again. Laura, if she comes back out with me -- she's going to be on her own.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.
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- Rupert Boneham