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Survivor Caramoan – Exclusive Interview with John Cochran

John Cochran or rather Cochran as he has previously said all the great Survivor players are known by their last names won Survivor Caramoan: Fans Versus Favourites by unanimous vote over Sherri and Dawn. It was a good result to see the ultimate Survivor fan take out the $1 million prize.

As one of my favourite players ever it was fantastic to interview him and he is as witty and engaging over the phone as he is on screen. We talked strategy, how he is done with reality TV and his thoughts on how this series compared to others.

Reality Ravings: I promised my readers I would not go all fan girl on you but I will say congratulations from me and the fans in Australia. It was a popular win. 

John Cochran: Thank you and don’t stop yourself from fan girling why should you stop yourself I live for it.

RR: I have to admit you are one of the contestants I have always wanted to see win Survivor, you and Jonathan Penner, but his ego always gets in the way when he plays you don’t seem to have that problem.

JC: Penner is one of my Survivor inspirations and he is one of the best narrators the show has ever had I am with you on that.

RR: Speaking of narrators you actually narrated this series which was fantastic and funny. Your a Survivor savant and I want to be a observer tell me what did you think of this series compared to the other ones that you have watched. Where did it rate?

JC: I have tried to analyse all the seasons as objectively as possible even though I am biased towards this one as I won it. But objectively speaking I do think it is one of the best seasons at least in recent memory. The start was a little bit slow because it had a lot of focus on people that wanted to urinate in bean supplies, and fans scratching peoples eyeballs, and people given spy nicknames, but once the merge hit it was really action packed. Usually a season is pretty lucky to have one, two, maybe three memorable moments in the entire season. You have a Brandon meltdown, you have Fran being voted off first again, you have Shamar scratching his eyeball and having to be medically evacuated, you have Corinne making all these jokes about how these blindsides happen and subsequently being blindsided, you have Reynold throwing his idol at Malcolm, you have Malcolm playing two idols at one tribal council, you have Andrea so busy trying to blindside Brenda that she was blindsided with an idol in her possession, you have the Brenda/Dawn emotional drama, you have  Erik being medically evacuated two days before the game ended and that’s saying nothing about my participation in the show. I think it was pretty good, there were so many great moments and that’s what people measure the enjoyability of a season on.

RR: It was a great season particularly when the more colourful characters went and gave a bit more air time to some of the other ones. My understanding is you hooked up with Dawn fairly early did you feel the trust was there from the start and what made you align with Special Agent Phillip?

JC: Contrary to popular belief I had very little communication with Dawn between my first time playing with her and my second time so when I first saw her on the beach I was not sure if there was some lingering resentment from the first time I voted her off and flipping on the tribe. When we got to the beach the game play history faded away and just the basic human familiarity was the priority. Just having an instant rapport with somebody is so huge, feeling comfortable talking to somebody even somebody who had voted you out before was a huge huge plus. I knew I was going to work with her pretty quickly and she seemed very receptive too. Phillip was actually a surprisingly strategic player this time around. In addition to that he was so eager to make himself the figure head of an alliance, and I wanted to be a part of a majority alliance so I was going to join Stealth R Us. Anytime it is presented to me that there is a six person alliance on a tribe of ten then I am in, and the greatest thing of it he was making himself the front and centre leader of it so I could safely hide within this alliance and he would take all the bullets. I enjoyed hanging out with him. There was a side of him that was annoying but he was a pretty compelling story teller especially when it is so boring out there and your sick of wringing your hands and dreaming about food it is fun to get a spy nickname and hear about his basketball exploits from the past.

RR: Erik got medically evacuated would you have taken him to final three?

JC: No my dream final three was always me, Sherri and Dawn. We would have voted off Eddie next had Erik had not been medically evacuated and then we would have taken out Erik. There was a very very good chance that Erik would have won one if not both of those immunity challenges. If he had won I still think I would have gotten to the end. I think he would have been angry at Dawn about Brenda. Erik and Brenda were very close so I think Erik would have sided and it would have been me, Sherri and Erik had he won immunity and I still think I would have won in that situation. I would have a slightly less compelling argument to make but I still would have won.

RR: Was Dawn difficult to live with? In the last episode you were making some cracks about her that were quite amusing was she that difficult to live with? We thought Phillip and Brandon and Shamar were the irritating ones, suddenly in the last episode and at tribal council it was revealed she was high maintenance person to live with.

JC: Obviously the show does a good job of showing everytime she cried and it was not as though she was crying 24 hours a day but she does cry and get paranoid more then the average person does at least in the context of Survivor. I think the thing was she was in such a powerful position. Even though power is great to have it is such a stress as you have people confiding in you and you have to decide whether you want to betray their trust and maintain it and to someone that is very sweet and is as genuine as Dawn and that is what caused her to break down. It did take a lot of maintanence. I did genuinely enjoy her company and I was more then happy to talk her off the ledge every now and again.

RR: Was there any pivotal point in the game where you thought I’ve made it to final three?

JC: I was never super confident, but the closest I got to that was probably after voting off Brenda. The show did not show you how worried I was around that time because I suddenly realised that Dawn could easily go with Erik and Brenda who she had an alliance with and just ditch me and then I would have come fourth or fifth. After Brenda had gone, Dawn had eliminated her options and she was effectively obligated to go to the end with me. Then I thought I can probably beat everybody and I have a majority alliance in that final five.

RR: What next for you Cochran? You have finished your Harvard Law Degree but I understand you are flicking that, what do you see in your future as your career?

JC: That is the scary and exciting part for me. I have conquered Survivor so I can tick that off my bucket list. So what I want to do next is a mystery. I would like to write in some capacity but I have not really written before. I have written academic papers and scholarly stuff but to write a screen play or journalism it appeals to me. I am going to experiment a little because I have the luxury of not needing a high paying job so I can take a few risks.

RR: Are you going to update your Survivor jury paper now that you have actually addressed a Survivor jury or is that just in the paper shredder?

JC: I want to re-write it as now I have a more nuanced understanding of it. As much as gloat about being a challenge beast and that is poking fun at myself and I hope that was apparent. I was genuinely proud of my final tribal performance there were some things I did learn that I would add in. One thing and this is a very specific nerdy I think there is a benefit  in saying a jurors name at some point in your answers not overtly flattering them as that can seem disingenuous but if I say “Eddie, you’re an handsome, athletic, and charming  guy and it was a pleasure playing with you” that is going to seem phony, but if you hear your name and on the jury it makes you fell validated and acknowledged and that is all you really want at that point as you feel you are no longer a part of the game. Just hearing your name goes along way to making people feel appreciated I made a conscience effort of doing that.

RR: You could also write a book about how to become the new alpha male, re-writing the Alpha Male Rulebook, if Boston Rob can write a rule book then you can too. [Ed note: Having a fan girl moment] Would you go on another reality TV show and if so which one would it be regardless of talent?

JC: I loved Survivor not because it is a reality TV show but because of the game. I don’t actually enjoy the part about being on TV very much I find it stressful. So to be on another reality TV show to just be on another reality TV show does not appeal. Nothing comes to mind. I think I am done being on reality TV.  I probably would not mind working on a reality TV to be honest  show like crafting story lines like something like Survivor but being on it I am done.



1 Sioux Denim { 05.21.13 at 4:32 pm }

Great interview RR, thanks….he seems like a genuinely nice guy…I wish him luck!

2 mahlia { 05.21.13 at 4:52 pm }

He sounds so……Cochran!

3 Andrea { 05.21.13 at 4:56 pm }

Good interview RR, he was a popular winner.
I would have liked to have heard his thoughts on the final when only the jury were allowed on stage and Erik and Sherri were not even asked one question.

4 Carole { 05.21.13 at 5:13 pm }

Yeah, great interview. He does seem like a genuine guy who can make fun of himself. Judging by some of the comments I read about him, I think some people did think he was arrogant and didn’t get that he was being tongue in cheek.

5 JStar { 05.21.13 at 6:58 pm }

RR – If ever a Survivor season comes out on DVD, made specifically for the visually-impaired with Penner or Cochran narrating, I’ll make sure Santa delivers it in your stocking for Christmas. That’s your Christmas down time all taken care of for the holidays.

Cochran played so much smarter this time around. Casting helps as he could hide all his insecurities behind other distracting players, like Phillip’s ego and Dawn’s tears, so that nobody realised he was a threat until it was too late. Well-deserved win and a popular one to boot.

And who is Cochran kidding? He will be back for an All-Star edition. Dimples will make him comeback. The “Fans vs Favourites” theme was recycled as the original edition proved to be enormously popular and consistently acknowledged by fans and the producers as one of the best overall seasons of Survivor. “Heroes vs Villains” was another season that was equally enjoyable and perhaps lightning can strike twice? Cochran will be back as a hero whilst Dawn will be cast as a villain with Boston Rob (as he needs to pimp himself on television at least every three years just to remain “relevant”). And for RR’s dream season to be complete, just remember that Penner was a late scratching from the original “Heroes vs Villains” season in favour of Russell. And Penner can never say no to Survivor.

6 fiona { 05.21.13 at 8:30 pm }

Hey RR i was just watching Arrested Development and Penner was in an episode as a cop. I knew he was a actor because i recognized him from The Nanny but i thought that was all he had done. Have you seen Penner in anything?

7 Sioux Denim { 05.22.13 at 8:58 am }

Fiona….he also in a scence from Seinfeld…..god, I would lurve him to come back and play another season!

8 Reality Raver { 05.22.13 at 9:11 am }

Fiona – I have not seen Penner acting at all or not that I had noticed. Who did he play in the Nanny.

Sioux Denim – will have to keep an eye open.

9 fiona { 05.22.13 at 12:35 pm }

RR Penner played the boyfriend that is mentioned in the theme song and he was in the pilot and a few other episodes i think.

10 Violet { 05.22.13 at 2:25 pm }

Cochran was a derserving winner and knew how to handle the jury. Sherri’s opening speech is a perfect example of what not to say.

@Fiona, you can just google Penner’s IMDb for a full list.