Welcome to the Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers preseason! THR'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 $1 million 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.
Wearing red buffs and officially known as Yawa, the Hustlers tribe consists of six men and women brought together due to one common thread linking their disparate professions: these are people who "get it done," according to executive producer and host Jeff Probst. Rather than leaning on the "con man" sense of the word, which would have opened the door for some of the other players on the season 35 cast (not naming names!), the Survivor version of a Hustler is an honorific, based on exceptional work ethic.
"They're actually the closest to the personification of what a Survivor player has to do," says Probst. "You have to hustle. If you don't get it done, you don't eat. I'm really curious to see heroes, who are used to being put on a pedestal because you served our country or because you're an athlete or because you broke the glass ceiling as a woman in business, and healers who put everybody first and hustlers who say they don't know how to get it done but they show up at 8 and they get it done. I'm really curious to watch those three groups play."
Listen to the podcast below for the fourth episode of "First One Out," starring the Hustlers:
What's your take on the Hustlers tribe?
The Hustlers are a group that in many ways, like Blue Collar when we did [Survivor: Worlds Apart], represent what makes a country work. If you look at Ryan, he's a bellhop. If you look at Patrick, he started his own business, a moving company. If you look at Lauren, she's a third-generation fisherwoman. None of these jobs are glamorous. But all of them require one thing: you have to get it done. Nobody else is going to carry that guy's bags. Nobody else is going to start the company. Nobody else is going to catch the fish. If you're looking to be the boss, you're in the wrong profession. You have to hustle. I admire that. I grew up in Kansas. That's what I was raised with. Farmers who hustled every day to get it done.
I was really taken with Ali. What's your take on her?
We liked Ali the minute she walked in. Her energy was really contagious because she's so likable and bright. She has a big smile. Really fast, it becomes apparent that she's not just a young pretty girl who's running around smiling. She's an intense young woman. She really wants to play Survivor and she wants to play well. She's thinking about the game all the time. Being on the Hustlers tribe, she's a personal assistant, and that's everything you need to know. Those guys work all day trying to figure it out. Ali, I keep going back to this intensity to her that I don't know if it's just intense because "I'm smart and I'm dedicated and my parents raised me to make the most out of everything," or if it's intense like, "I'm going to lose my mind in a minute." I don't know. I'm really curious to see. I think she's really likable at first glance, and that should put her in a good group. She's going to make an early alliance, I have a feeling, and try to lead.
Tell me about Devon. Tall, dark and handsome — people are going to like this guy.
Devon's very likable. He's so good looking and charming, and yet, you still like him. I think it speaks to why he's on the Hustlers tribe. Devon is a bit of an exception to the rule, I think, in that I would say he's had an easier life. If you just look at his background, it hasn't been difficult. But what Devon has done with the choices in his life is say, "I'm not going to take this for granted. I could be a kid who says, 'Oh, something else will come my way. Doors just open for me because people want to hang out.'" But instead, he takes every gift that lands in his lap and goes, I can do something with this. That's the guy who ends up being the billionaire and you go, "How did you get here?" And he goes, "A couple of bucks at a time." He's still good looking and he's got the cool car and the penthouse in Japan. I think Devon is a real threat to go deep, so long as he doesn't get taken out for being such a threat. That's the hard thing when you're Devon. You're a walking billboard for why people should want to get rid of you.
What do you think about Lauren?
Lauren is a fish out of water, which is ironic, given that she fishes. But she's a fish out of water because I don't think she socializes the way some of these people do. She hasn't left her hometown maybe ever. She goes out on the boat, fishes and gets it done. She told us, "I have a small section of the year I have to go out and catch my fish and make all of my money. And I'm a mom, and it's a lot of pressure, and it's risky, and I'm out in the sea, and I'm doing my thing." All of that can come in really handy on the survival part, but Survivor is about the social part. You have to blend with people. She's either somebody where people will go, "You're a little out of your element but you're very likable and I can use you to help me," or she will be so out of her element that people will go, "Oh, I don't know. The woman who isn't talking much..." So, I'm not sure.
How about Patrick, always smiling at everybody... he's really a character.
Patrick fooled me in casting. I think I got had. I think what Patrick presented was a really likable guy, and a very hardworking guy. He started this company and he described it to us as: "I went door-to-door at every business and said, 'If you ever need to move, call me. I'll have a better deal and I'll do a better job.' And then I sent flowers to every place and said, 'It's from me, Patrick, the mover guy.'" I was really impressed with that. That's work ethic. And he does have this big smile. And you have to see it to understand, but it's really a big smile, and it's on, all the time. But then we met the day before the show started, out here in Fiji, and I thought I saw a part of Patrick which is, "You're a little bit more of a conniver than I realize." That smile, while genuine, is also the same smile that says, "Yes, I'm laughing with you, and oh, I'm also laughing at you."
You know, sharks look like they're smiling, right? Right before they bite your face off.
Yeah! (Laughs.) I think Patrick is in trouble, actually. With this group, I think he's going to be the odd man out. Now, if he can figure out the charm he showed me in casting and turn that on, he will be fine. Because he charmed me. And I'm not saying he's not charming. I'm just saying I think Patrick is closer to a villain than a hero in terms of how he's going to play the game. I worry that that smile, because it's so prominent, might actually annoy people, almost like if you're in prison and you find someone who is happy. It's like, "Wait a second. You can't be happy out here. It just doesn't work! So get rid of the smile!"
What do you think of Ryan, who is a superfan of the show?
Ryan, if he lasts long enough, is going to go down as one of the great storytellers. He's got a great gift for gab. He's very witty. Great wordplay. He's really smart. I hope he lasts. He's in a league we've never really had. Yes, he's kind of like Cochran [who won Survivor: Caramoan] and David [Wright, who came in fourth on Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X], but those are cliche examples. I don't really think we've had anybody like Ryan.
What do you think about Simone?
Simone is at a crossroads. It's okay to want to think through things and analyze situations, but you can't let people see you do that. Like that phrase, you never want to let them see you sweat. You have to do that while you're laying in the hammock and eating a banana. You have to analyze with a smile on your face. People read each other. If you're in the corner and you're going, "I see these two, and I see these four," then you're out. I hope Simone is not out early, but I fear she might be. I really liked her. I was charmed by her. But now I'm seeing the intensity of the game catch up to her.
Click through the gallery below for photos of the Hustlers, as well as the Heroes and Healers.
Keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more coverage of the Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers preseason.