'Survivor's' Malcolm Freberg on Making Big Moves and Being Voted Out

Survivor: Caramoan Malcolm Freberg - P 2013
Monty Brinton/CBS

Survivor: Caramoan Malcolm Freberg - P 2013

Malcolm Freberg's second time on Survivor didn't turn out quite like he -- or many fans -- hoped.

After coming in fourth place on the CBS reality competition's 25th season last year, the fan favorite didn't hesitate to sign up for another shot at the $1 million prize on Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites (he only had about two weeks between seasons to prepare to play again).

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While he made some big moves -- in last week's episode, he saved his alliance of himself, Reynold Toepfer and Eddie Fox by producing two hidden immunity idols. As a result, he was responsible for getting Phillip Sheppard voted out -- Sheppard was ultimately sent home after failing to find another idol in Wednesday's episode, despite having paid $480 at the food auction for the clue to its whereabouts.

On Thursday, Malcolm, a bartender from Hermosa Beach, Calif., talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his big move, what he wishes he'd done differently and whether he'd play a third time.

The Hollywood Reporter: In your exit interview after being voted out, you said you wouldn't have played the idol if you'd had it because you thought you were safe.

Malcolm: I have no idea why I said that. I don't remember saying that. I can't claim knowledge of what the hell I was saying at all. I think I was trying to rationalize in my mind not finding the idol or something. I can't explain it.

THR: But did you think you had Erik [Reichenbach] and Sherri [Biethman] on board to vote with you?

Malcolm: I had no faith in Erik whatsoever. I thought I had a decent shot that Sherri would flip. I really thought it was in her best interests to come along with us. I told her I'd go to the end with her, and that was true in that moment. But I didn't realize how much she hated Eddie and Reynold; I had no idea about the loathing that went back to day four with those guys.

THR: Earlier in the season, it seemed like Erik was actually on board with an all-guys alliance with you, Reynold and Eddie.

Malcolm: He never really was on board with it. Whenever I was talking about the numbers with Corinne [Kaplan], we knew we definitely had Reynold and Eddie and Michael [Snow] and maybe Erik. It was never a sure thing with Erik. I don't know what the hell went on in that kid's head. He would point to the flag and ask who to vote for, and then next night vote on someone else. I never put stock in that option.

THR: Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but do you regret playing the idol last week?

Malcolm: It wasn't supposed to go like that. The plan was to get away with playing neither, and get Phillip [Sheppard] voted out, and me and Eddie not playing the idol. The worst-case scenario was that we played both idols. But then Erik called it and got everyone to switch their votes back to me and Eddie, and we were forced to play it. The plan was not to give up the idols. I still think that plan was good.

THR: Andrea [Boehlke] staked you out and wouldn't leave while you were looking for the hidden idol. How hard did she make it for you to look for that?

Malcolm: It wasn't as bad as it looked, actually. I dug for many hours before she came down there and the day previous. I dug for a while, and I couldn't find it. I was starting to despair when she showed up. We sat there for a while, but I finally was like, forget it. At that point, I figured I was not going to find this thing. I dug everywhere I could think to look. So I gave up and started bluffing to force them to split the vote.

THR: Did you think at the time that they bought it?

Malcolm: I didn't make them 100 percent believe it, but it was obviously enough to split the vote. That was all I could hope for. The other part of it was Sherri voting with us, but that didn't happen.

THR: Why do you think Eddie switched his vote for you after the tie? Was he just trying to curry favor with the people left in the game?

Malcolm: I think he was just trying to save his own butt in the last minute. I don't blame him. We knew if there was a three-way tie vote for me, any of the guys would vote for me. It was a gut reaction on his part to defend himself.

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THR: What's your take on Phillip?

Malcolm: He's a complete loon. He was doing a good job out there keeping everybody together. He was the glue holding that whole cockamamie dumb alliance together. As much as I mocked him loudly, you can't take away that he was doing a pretty good job out there.

THR: He told THR last week that your strategy was "silly" and "stupid." After you were voted out, did you two talk at Ponderosa?

Malcolm: Phillip thinks my strategy to get him voted out was bad? [Laughs] I did all this work to get rid of Phillip, and then I was stuck on a jury with him until the end of the game. [Laughs] We were very cordial, and it wasn't really a problem.

THR: You were initially with Phillip's alliance and then you and Corinne broke away. Do you regret not staying with them longer?

Malcolm: I could have stuck with him and tried to go deep by winning immunity and get to the end. But early on, I knew I would jump ship, and Corinne was on board with it. I tried to rope in the fans. Obviously, now knowing that failed horribly, I would rethink it, but I don't think I could have won going with Phillip's alliance because they never would have taken me to the end. My body was so wasted, I wouldn't have gotten to the end [by winning the immunity challenges]. My only shot was to flip the game on its head.

THR: After you were voted out, were you able to keep an open mind the rest of the reason while deciding whom to vote for as the winner?

Malcolm: I would always vote for the person that played the best game. I would not let personal emotions or what happened to me cloud my judgment. The best player gets the vote.

THR: How hard was it playing back-to-back seasons of Survivor? [Both seasons were shot in the Philippines in spring 2012.]

Malcolm: My body was wrecked. Watching last night's episode, I was wasted away. I was scary skinny, gross skinny. My body is still not like it was over a year ago [before shooting Survivor: Philippines]. I'm not back to the same shape. And I was mentally exhausted. I was out there 68 days total, with only a little break in between, a two-week break. I was in Survivor mode for so long. I was going a little crazy toward the end -- but nothing diagnosable.

THR: What's your take on what happened with Brandon [Hantz]?

Malcolm: The poor kid's brain melted, and I think in my opinion -- this is just my opinion -- he wanted to quit out there and decided to go out in a big way that he thought would be good TV. I think he was struggling mentally at the same time and just wanted to do something that would be popular, in some trashy reality TV show kind of way.

STORY: Malcolm Freberg Reveals His Strategy the Second Time Around (Exclusive Video)

THR: How did your two seasons compare to each other?

Malcolm: They were very apples and oranges to be honest. The first time I was miserable, the weather was awful. A lot of people didn't have a good time or weren't enjoying themselves. Out here [the second time], as much as there was a game going on, everyone got along. It was a much younger crowd, and I genuinely got along with people even though they were not in my alliance.

THR: Would you play a third time?

Malcolm: Since I still haven't won, the fire is still there. But give me some time to eat something, get my body back in shape a little bit and enjoy sleeping in a bed for a full year.