'Survivor: Redemption Island:' Phillip says 'I played a brilliant ruse on everybody'; plans to be become an actor

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

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

I see.
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.

Comments (71 total) Add your comment
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  • Buffy Freak

    Alright so there was a woman who vouched for Phillip as being a federal agent. But there has to be way more to that story…it can’t have ended well. The guy claims he was putting on an act and yet during the jury questioning when he could have revealed his “master plan” he reverted back to his usual ways. The guy is definitely unstable. He better not be one of the ones Survivor brings back in the future.

    Oh, and side note to Phillip…my use of the word “master” should in no way be interpreted as racist.

    • NJS

      Agreed! I wanted him to come out with a suit and tie, speak like a federal agent and explain that EVERYTHING he did on the show was a ruse. If he had done that during Tribal Councel, I think Phillip would have a million right now.

      • bruno

        except no one in their right mind would have believed him. i still don’t….if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a crazy freakin duck.

      • Joseph

        Give me a break if it was a ruse then would he have not gotten out of character when the questions came up and it was time to say how sorry he was for being such a huge jerk.

      • Pris

        I was very confused; I was expecting Phil to tell everyone at Tribal Council that he was acting crazy and like a jerk because he knew that everyone would want him at the final because no one would vote for him. I too expected him to I figured he would start acting normal and say how he duped them all and that his ability to fool them all meant he was deserving of the million. If he was acting and didn’t admit it at Tribal then he is just dumb. If he wasn’t acting, who, in their right mind, would hire him as a federal agent? I would like to see him in a tribe with coach. How about a team made up of all the craziest people they’ve had on Survivor!!

    • kyrjar

      This interview still shows that he is delusional. He is showing some reserve so the fact that he was a joke is sinking in somewhat. But he never hears how inconsistent his own statements are and never realizes when people are pandering to him or provoking his crazy.

  • cattyfan

    I am not a fan of Phillip, but I was appalled at how rude, hostile, and disrepectful some of the other players were (and still are) to him.

    I hope he finds much success in his future.

    • cj

      Their hostility and attitude toward Phillip makes me wonder what we didn’t see during their time together. When so many of them feel the same way – that level of hostility is not a normal response to someone who appears to have less than a firm grip on reality – there had to be more.

      • cueball

        I dunno – if he was white, and there was never the race angle; people wouldn’t be as sensitive about he treated people. He was incredibly abrasive, and by his own admission – intentionally so. I don’t feel bad for a guy who was successful in a strategy to generate ill-will. I don’t hold it against him, either. He found a strategy and it worked (almost).

      • ron

        It didn’t work at all! It got him to the final three becauae nobody in their right mind would vote for the crazy guy. if his goal was to win he did an absolutely terrible job. if his goal was solely to hang out with Rob until the end of the show, job well done. and race only became an angle when he accused an innocent man of being a recist.

      • Eva

        Really? He yelled at and berated someone at least once per episode. I can’t imagine that the editors had that much material to work with and it not be a norm. I would have snapped too by day 35.

      • Kathryn

        Cueball, really??? Waaaay before Phillip raised the race card issue, contestants in both tribes were hating on Phillip. And while he is claiming now that this was strategy, where was that claim 6 months ago when he was giving his Final Tribal opening statement? Instead, we just saw more of the rude negativity pour out. I think he came home, read the internet, saw numerous posts along the lines of “What if Crazy Phillip is just an act to get to Final 2 and he’s going to reveal all at the finale?”. Obviously the opportunity for Part B of that suggestion had passed him by, but I think he decided to run with A and by now probably has half-convinced himself that it’s true. But I remember that in one of his confessionals where he implied some of it was an act, he distinctly said he had a strategy to beat Boston Rob. Nothing came of it but I think his opening statement last night stunned me more than your post. Very weird player….right on up there with Jimmy T from last season.

    • caryn

      agree cattyfan. He was obviously very hard to be around every day but the COMPLETE lack of any kind of respect he was showed was off putting. I feel it is more a reflection on Julie and the others than it is on Phillip.

    • Buffy Freak

      Wait…this guy claims he was acting as abrasively as possible and the others react the exact way he claims he wanted them to but somehow THEY are being disrespectful? Sorry, don’t see it. This guy isn’t crazy like a fox…he’s just crazy.

    • starbbycat

      totally agree with you – they in the end were actually beneath him & couldnt see it – stoooopid. Props to Rob for what he said about Phillip in the reunion show & major props to Phillip to come in second & make a 1/4 mill in the process. In the end I very much enjoyed him – it was a laugh.

  • Gregory

    If it was all an act then why did he go crazy during the last tribal council when he needed to convince the Jury to vote for him. That’s when he should have suddenly appeared rational and cool-headed and shown them that he had them fooled the whole time and that’s why they should vote for him.

    • joblo

      ^THIS. That’s what I was wondering too. I expected to see a different Phillip at the final Tribal if what he was doing was just an act. But he was even more unreasonable at Tribal, I think. Essentially yelling at people in the jury and telling them to not vote for him. What was that all about? It just doesn’t make any sense, which makes me believe that part of Phillip’s act was planned but part of it is just him being a really strange person and bad Survivor player.

      • orville

        Right. You don’t come to final tribal council in a red blanket with feathers sticking out of your head and then continue to be abrasive and come straight out and tell people not to vote for you if you’d like to win. The delusional never think they are.

    • AK

      Exactly. The man is clearly delusional and just operates by his own logic. This interview is about as coherent and sensible as anything he ever did on “Survivor” (which, is to say, not very).

  • Eshia

    I will miss Phile so much.

    • Min


      Phile is a hoot!

    • starbbycat

      he was great & came in second to boot – major props to him.

  • paul

    Ugh. He exhausts me.

  • Mr G

    Phillip spent 39 day acting belligerent and childish – “brilliant”

  • MacG

    Did you catch this when Phillip said “Like when I told my sister when she came out there, I told her, “I’m acting crazy and it’s working”

    I’m acting crazy…was that not THE word that triggered that whole racist tirade? Double standard.

    • Liza

      It’s ok for someone who is crazy to call themself crazy don’t you know?

      • MacG

        that’s crazy

  • TorontoTom

    If he (or Coach, an equally unstable individual – NaOnka also comes to mind) is one of the “returning players”, this long term viewer will NOT be tuning in. I absolutely HATE when they bring on oddball characters with the sole intention of having the audience laugh AT them, not with them. It’s trash TV at its lowest level.

  • Ralph

    It was clear Phil was playing for 2nd place and he seems to be content with that as that was preferable to getting kicked out early. I dont think he is the sane mastermind he claims to be. But he does have more self awareness than he gets credit for. He knew he had no chance of winning, so he did not give some of the bitter jurors the satisfaction of sticking it to him at tribal council. I loved the crazy man’s answers to Julie and AShley at TC.

    • caryn

      Agree. He knew he had no chance of winning and I think second place gets a nice, fat $100,000. I think if I was on this tribe, I would have been cool with second place too… well, I would have at least tried for first though!

  • Jessem Herring

    I am so sick of this guy not letting me rest in peace. We are not related. His ancestors picked my cotton and fetched my tea, but that was it. How did that go to us being related all of a sudden WTF??

  • Moon

    Just a random Survivor question completely unrelated to Phillip: If a person is on psychiatric medication before competing in Survivor, is he allowed to take the medication with him, or does he have to go 39 days without meds?

    • whatever

      LOL .

    • opie

      @moon — if Phillip were on psych drugs before coming on the island he would have had the worst withdrawal symptoms you ever saw. By day 2 he would have been braining himself on a rock and been really happy about it.. Psych drugs are powerful, you don’t mess with them.

  • whatever

    Don’t believe he was acting .

  • dohrayme

    While Phil pats himself on the back, I keep thinking back to a few eps back when Phil pronounced that he shake everything up at the last Tribal by making such a profound speech to the jury that they would vote him the million. Then I watched his bizarre (for a wannabe millionaire) ineffective, more-of-the-same ramblings. I will say no one was more entertaining this season. So maybe Phil should give acting a try. I could see him as the new Maxwell Smart, for one. Not that I’d count on him to get smart, so to speak.

  • Mensa2

    I think Phillip played a brilliant game, and did the things he had to do when it came to being Abrasive! One thing for sure is that he is way more INTELLIGENT than his haters, at least he has over $250K! Now take that to the BANK!

    • ron

      and all he had to do was destroy his self respect and dignity, making the world think he is a complete nut case in the process. this from a man who claims to be a top federal agent… i hope the monney is worth it

  • JJ

    I noticed how when he talks about being in the military he never forgets to mention how he served for 4 years, but as an “FBI Agent” he never actually mentions how long he stayed. Hhmmmmnn??? Maybe he was an agent but got fired quickly. I say 2 months, tops

    • Buffy Freak

      Yup…I have to think his stint as a federal agent was VERY short lived and not by his choice.

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