5:19pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor: Caramoan': Fan Shamar on Leaving the Game Early and Whether He Was Misunderstood
After days of complaining that he wanted to quit Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites, Shamar Thomas finally got his wish.
The polarizing player, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran from Brooklyn, N.Y., was pulled from the CBS reality competition by medics in Wednesday night's episode after suffering two serious scratches on his cornea. While his departure was a relief to most of his tribemates, it ultimately reduced his six-person alliance to four members after fellow alliance-mate Laura Alexander was voted out for being the weakest player physically.
On Thursday, Shamar spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the condition of his eye, whether he was portrayed accurately and why he was so lazy around camp.
The Hollywood Reporter: How's your eye?
Shamar Thomas: It's been quite well. I appreciate [your asking].
THR: What happened after you left the island?
Thomas: I got my eye taken care of. I had surgery on my finger, and I'm back at it.
THR: I'm glad to hear it wasn't anything too serious.
Thomas: Oh, it was serious. Next question [laughs].
THR: I'm sorry, it didn't sound that serious from what you were saying. So you're saying the damage is permanent?
Thomas: Yeah, it's permanent. Next question. [Thomas explained to another media outlet that he still has his sight but there is some scar tissue that won't go away; meanwhile, he had a piece of bamboo penetrate his finger, and it's permanently disfigured.]
THR: So were you ready to leave the game, or did you really want to stay?
Thomas: Being a big fan of Survivor, it was such a hard thing for me to go. No way I wanted to leave the game. I didn't really have too much in common with my tribemates. If I had been with people who had "been there, done that" and understood the game more, it would have been a lot better. My idea was to make it to the merge, and that's all I could think about, and it didn't happen. I wish I could have done a lot better for my community and the people who were rooting for me.
THR: Were you portrayed accurately?
Thomas: Everything that happened, happened. But you never saw me walk up to people and start a confrontation. They did that to me, and I was just defending myself. They were accusing me of stuff and started talking to me in a certain way. Me as a human being, I treat people with a lot of respect. But I'm a Marine; I'm not going to take too much crap from anybody.
THR: Do you think you were misunderstood?
Thomas: I didn't have a lot in common with these people. They liked the same kind of music and a lot of things in their daily lives, and that helped them bond. A lot of these people wouldn't be my first choice in real life [to be friends with].
THR: You were criticized by your tribemates for being lazy and lying around a lot and not helping out around camp. Was that fair?
Thomas: I came into this game with such a positive attitude, and it just didn't fare well for me from the beginning. I wanted to do well in the challenges, but that was the hardest thing -- just trying to maintain myself for the challenges, because the social game wasn't really working for me. So I needed to try to conserve my energy instead of exploring the island with everyone.
THR: What did you like about your experience?
Thomas: The challenges were so amazing. Just the opportunity to go on Survivor and be a part of a production like that. When I was in Iraq, I thought it was the hardest thing I'd ever go through. I never thought if someone stuck me on an island with no water and told me to fend for myself [it would be worse] -- the challenges made my day.
THR: What do you think about Laura being voted out?
Thomas: I knew once I was gone, I couldn't mask the weakness of others [in my alliance].
THR: Would you play again if asked?
Thomas: I think Survivor is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and of course I would take it twice.