Welcome to the Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers preseason! The Hollywood Reporter's Josh Wigler reports from his exclusive visit to the show's shooting location in Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 18 new castaways battling it out for the million-dollar prize.
Click here to make sure you're all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series First One Out, an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season.
Despite their disparate walks of life, the castaways of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers are united on two fronts: their shared goal of winning the million dollars, and their share fear of getting voted out first.
Thirty-three unlucky individuals have suffered through that tragic fate over the course of 34 seasons of Survivor (shout out to the great Francesca Hogi, the only person to get voted out first twice), and in due time, a new name will be added to that list. Over the course of our preseason podcast series "First One Out," the Heroes, Healers and Hustlers have weighed in with their thoughts on enduring the single worst Survivor nightmare scenario imaginable, at least on a gameplay level. With little time left before the season premiere, here's where their heads are at in regards to fighting off FOO syndrome.
Listen to the penultimate episode of our preseason podcast series, "First One Out," for more on the history of Survivor's first boots.
Patrick Bolton (Small Business Owner, Hustlers Tribe): That's honestly probably my worst nightmare. I'm not even going to address if it could happen. Let's just go to somebody else. I feel sad for the person it happens to. It's not going to be me. It's not going to be me!
Ben Driebergen (Marine, Heroes Tribe): Worst case scenario. Absolute worst case scenario, that I go home first. I hope we win the first immunity challenge so it's not even on the table. Not even on the table. That's my biggest fear. Somebody's gotta do it. Somebody's gonna do it. I just hope it ain't me. Because, yeah … nightmare.
Joe Mena (Probation Officer, Healers Tribe): Honestly, it's not a nightmare, because it's not even a thought. It literally has not even crossed my mind at all, as crazy as that is. It honestly hasn't even crossed my mind yet. Call me ignorant, naive, whatever. It hasn't even crossed my mind.
Ashley Nolan (Lifeguard, Heroes Tribe): That would be devastating. I feel really bad for whoever it's going to happen to — but I know it's not going to be me.
Ryan Ulrich (Bellhop, Hustlers Tribe): Here's a Survivor fact for you: Since season 26 — and I'm pretty sure this is right, but please correct me if I'm wrong — the winner has avoided that first Tribal Council. [Wigler's note: He's almost right. The trend starts with season 27.] Look at Michele. Look at Tony. They avoided Tribal Council for double digit days. Look at Natalie Anderson; except for the Drew Christy vote-off, she didn't go to Tribal and held her cards so close to the vest. That is vital. Just a hot take.
Alan Ball (NFL Player, Heroes Tribe): That shit sucks. That shit sucks. That shit sucks. That shit sucks. Like, to go through this shit, and be the first one to go? I understand the gravity of that now, being here. I understand how fucking shitty that is. But somebody has to go. Somebody has to go.
Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): Are you afraid it's going to be you?
Alan Ball (NFL Player, Heroes Tribe): No. No, not a chance. I'm not worried about myself at all while we're in groups. Yeah, strategically, people might want to get rid of me because I'm a threat? Yeah, it makes sense, but at the same time, it doesn't make sense to get rid of one of your strongest people that early.
Desi Williams (Physical Therapist, Healers Tribe): It should be a fear of everyone's. If you're overconfident, it's probably a sign you're going home early. It's a fear, but I'm hoping I won't be the most annoying or the weakest. If I can stay out of those two categories? God, I would hate to be the first person to go home. The next 36 days would be miserable.
Katrina Radke (Olympian, Heroes Tribe): Maybe I should [have that fear], but I don't. It's going to be somebody else, I hope!
Simone Nguyen (Diversity Advocate, Hustlers Tribe): Everybody should have a healthy concern about being voted off first. The data obviously shows that Asian-American women don't usually do that well. I just have to do my best and hope I make some friends early on.
Ali Elliott (Celebrity Assistant, Hustlers Tribe): I feel like right now, I have more to freak out about besides that, because of this whole situation with me knowing this kid. I feel like my social game is strong, though, so I hope that people will like me and feel like I'm someone they can trust. I don't worry about it as much as other stuff. Being out first ... that sucks. All of this, flying to L.A., staying in the hotel, being out here sitting in the heat, and you have to stay here after that. It's definitely in the back of my head, but I will be surprised if it happens.
Mike Zahalsky (Urologist, Healers Tribe): I'm terrified of being the first person out. If I'm the first person out, my wife is going to be so mad at me. I'm going to get made fun of for the rest of my life. I think I might be the first person out. If I'm not? I really think I have a good chance of winning this thing. But my biggest fear is that everybody is sitting here thinking this guy, he's here to play. We know he's a player. We know he knows how to solve a Rubik's cube. We know he's been practicing slide puzzles and he can do them in under a minute. We can just tell that this guy knows Survivor. That would be my biggest fear.
Lauren Rimmer (Fisherman, Hustlers Tribe): My fear is being blindsided. That's probably my major fear in playing this game, just being blindsided. I hope it doesn't happen to me. If it does? Again, it's a game. I can't expect to walk out on top all of the time. My strategy is probably just to try to stay in the middle and give myself options. Don't stick to one thing. If you stick with one thing, you're stuck with that one thing. You don't get the opportunity to switch it up.
Katrina Radke (Olympian, Heroes Tribe): If I spend all my time out there trying to think about every possible scenario, I'm going to get stressed and tired. I have 39 days out there. I have to stay grounded and energetic enough to maintain myself through all of those days, mentally and emotionally and psychologically and spiritually and physically, everything. If I start thinking about all of that now? I'm going to be a mess.
Chrissy Hofbeck (Actuary, Heroes Tribe): It's a concern of anyone coming out here, being the first voted off. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants that!
Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): To think about this for 16 years and be the first person voted off ...
Chrissy Hofbeck (Actuary, Heroes Tribe): OK, I don't feel that, because I still feel like I'm luckier and more blessed than the how many tens of thousands of people who have applied for this show and they haven't been able to live what I'm living right now. It's all good. It's all good. But nobody wants to be the first vote-out. We all come out here so we can become the Sole Survivor.
Josh Wigler (Reporter, THR): What are you going to do to make sure you don't go home first?
JP Hilsabeck (Firefighter, Heroes Tribe): Just like the ocean. Tide comes in, tide goes out. Every once in a while you get your opportunity to shine, like with the challenges and things. Otherwise, just go with the flow and then when it's your time to strike, you rally together and make it happen.
Devon Pinto (Surf Instructor, Hustlers Tribe): I'm not going to the Tribal Council where I have to be the one writing someone's name down [first]. I'm going to pump up my tribe so hard that when we get to the immunity challenge, we're going to fucking kill it and come in first and not even have to worry about that. I want my tribe, whoever I'm stuck with, whether it's someone I have a bad first impression with, I want us to be a family and feel like if we get to the merge together, we're going to stick together. So I don't even want to think about that situation. I don't want to be involved in that.
Jessica Johnston (Nurse Practitioner, Healers Tribe): I plan on keeping my head down for a while, holding in my personality because it's enormous. I'm not physically the biggest or the smallest. If I work hard, there's no way I'm going home first.
Cole Medders (Wilderness Therapy Guide, Healers Tribe): I feel like I'm enough of an asset off the start in winning challenges and making fire, and all of the survival skills that get people through the first stage. After that, the next goal is the merge. And then after that, of course, is the million dollars.
Jeff Probst (Executive Producer and Host): I have the weirdest role. Despite what people might think, I actually love people. I love relationships. I love community. I love all of it. I'm still blown away that people come out here and do this. I mean, this is so hard. You see their bodies up close, and they're losing weight, and they have bug bites everywhere, and they're starving, and yet they have an energy about them that says, "Bring it on, man. I want more." So, yeah, for somebody to get blindsided and snuffed, and they look around and they go, "Me? Out of all eighteen, me? Out of this group of six, I'm the one you don't want?" You find yourself saying, "It must have been because I'm a threat." You have to protect yourself. I'm snuffing their torch, and on one hand, that's the way the game goes and I lose no sleep at all, but in my subconscious, yes, there's a part of me going, "I'm sorry. I know you want to play again."
Keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more coverage of the Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers, which premieres on September 27.