If you had told me before the season began that Phillip Sheppard would end up in second place on Survivor: Redemption Island, I would have called you crazy. Crazy like Phillip Sheppard! But somehow, someway, the Stealth R Us point person ended up as runner-up. I talked with Philip all about his unlikely journey, his feelings about his castmates, and his plans for the future, which, quite frankly, are spectacular. Read on after the jump to enjoy for yourself.
You know, forget about this former federal agent stuff. I just want to talk about that 1984 US Army photo! You had it going on, my man! Lookin’ good!
Yeah, that was back in the day. That was right after I just got promoted to Specialist. That’s kind of a funny shot. A couple of my friends can’t stop laughing about that shot. They’ve never seen me look like that.
I gotta tell you, Phillip, when I was out there on location and saw you wandering around by yourself in your pink undies, I had you pegged as the first one gone.
Yeah, I read your stuff. Like when I told my sister when she came out there, I told her, “I’m acting crazy and it’s working.” People don’t believe someone can do that in an environment where there’s no radio, there’s no television, Basically, there’s no distractions. There’s a side of me that nobody saw because it would make for boring television but I love to be in nature. As a boy, my father owned 23 acres in upstate New York. I would walk along that land and interface with a deer. I could walk along the deer and they were not afraid of me. I was like the deer whisperer as a boy
But the girls and Matt and Grant were so enraptured with Rob, they never once had a conversation about strategy with me the entire freaking season. So I was like, okay, how can I make myself more useful, and survive this game, and, by the way, not tell a lie. I had to get with the best liar in the game: hands down — Boston Rob. He does it better than anyone I’ve ever seen. And then I had to make myself useful to Boston Rob so I thought, what if I make everyone look at me and be such a huge distraction that Rob can play the game? And I went to Rob and said I’m willing to do this. And then I just started acting that way and you could see that everyone would start talking about me and point fingers and laugh and they would giggle about my underwear. And every time I saw the girls in their little spa mode I would come over and “GRRRRRRRRRRR!” And they’d be like “You’re psycho!” It worked brilliantly. No one’s giving me credit. I want you to do it finally, Dalton, because I’ve read your stuff, and in real life the game I played was absolutely brilliant. And Grant last night sounded like a poor loser because he kept loving Rob and loving Rob instead of making a move in the game. Same thing with Ashley. I mean, these people had ample opportunities. If any one of them had come to me and said “Let’s vote Rob out of the game,” they would have had an opportunity to do it. So for me, I played a brilliant ruse on everybody. People come up to me and they tell me I deserved to win. I don’t agree with that assessment, by the way. I don’t think I deserved to win. I felt that I played a very, very, very good game, but Rob played a better game.
It was great to see you and Steve shake hands and make-up at the Reunion show. How are things with you with Ashley?
She spoke out of turn last night, because everybody there [at the Reunion] you noticed was giving everybody a chance to speak. I didn’t speak over anybody. Nobody interrupted anybody. Jeff saved me for last because he knew he was going to do the thing with the federal agent and bring her out. So as soon as I said I tried to play the game with integrity, she jumped in and stepped all over it. And I thought, that’s too bad. That’s unfortunate, because basically she spent a lot of time talking negatively about me throughout the season, even when she did those one-on-one interviews, and from the bottom of her heart, basically horrible things. But you don’t have me speaking like that in one-on-one interviews. I did it to her face. But in my view, there’s nothing really to get over with her. It all happened in context of the game. And that’s how I view the entire thing with every single person out there. Even with Francesca, David, and Kristina. I don’t carry that kind of baggage around with me. I feel sorry for those people that are walking around six, seven months after the season and still feeling mad at each other.
Have you had any visions of your great-great grandfather Jessum since you returned?
I have, but I’m not at liberty to share them.
I’m not gonna tell. All I’m gonna tell you about me — and I think you already know this — is that big things are coming down the pike for me. That’s all I’m gonna tell you.
Well I have to feel we haven’t seen the last of you on this show. Would you come play Survivor again?
Under the appropriate set of circumstances, absolutely.
Do you still have any of your feathers from Nicaragua?
I have all of them. I have the entire outfit.
Aw, man, why didn’t you bust out that sweet look last night?
I didn’t think it was appropriate. I’m going to be doing some other things in my life. I’m going to be doing some acting. I want to have my own really show going forward — down the road, not necessarily right now, but I’ve had a lot of people approach me. I think you saw a little tip of the iceberg out there. There’s a major executive of movies that is dying to meet me. And someone from CBS said to me, “You’ve got some skills, dude. You’ve got some chops. There’s something about you where when you look at Phillip on TV you want to watch!” You and I will agree, regardless of whether you like me or love me, you love seeing me. I was a huge impact player on Survivor because I went from 6 pages on the Internet to 3.9 million pages. If you Google my name, Phillip Sheppard, and CBS, it comes back 3.9 million.
I’ll be sure to check that out. Finally, you were compared so often this season to Coach. Have you had a chance to meet that force of nature yet?
No. I thought he was going to be here in New York. I heard rumors that was he was going to be here. I will tell you that he wrote me an email and said, “You’ve passed me as a legend,” and I said, that’s like saying Carl Lewis wrote some sprinter that won a major US Invitational and said “you’re the new legend.” And I said, legends don’t die, they just move on.
To watch our pre-game interview with Phillip, just click on the video player below. Also make sure to read Dalton’s recap as well as Jeff Probst’s take on the finale and our new interviews with winner Boston Rob Mariano, and king of Redemption Island, Matt Elrod. Finally, for more Survivor scoop all year round, follow Dalton on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.