[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Wednesday’s finale of Big Brother.]
Was one of the biggest Big Brother mistakes made on finale night?
Cody Calafiore, the 23-year-old ex-soccer player/sales associate from New Jersey, won the final Head of Household competition, giving him the power to choose whom he sat next to in the Final 2: his fellow Hitman, Derrick Levasseur, or Victoria Rafaeli. Instead of making a big splash, Calafiore remained loyal to his Hitmen alliance, choosing to take Levasseur — who would go on to win the $500,000 in a 7-2 vote — a move Calafiore later said was a decision he was more comfortable living with.
Following Wednesday’s finale, Calafiore, winner of $50,000, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about whether he regrets taking Derrick to the Final 2, his controversial “flirtmance” with Christine and being blindsided by Team America and Derrick’s secret.
When The Hitmen formed on Day 2, the plan was to make it to the Final 2. Did you think at the time that both you and Derrick would make it to the end?
When we linked up on Day 2, it seemed so cool to be part of something like that watching the show and being a fan of it and being linked up into something that we had linked a name to because we had lasted a couple of weeks. As we got to the middle of the season, we were like, Wow, we made it pretty far together and no one’s ever suspected us. It got to the point where if we didn’t win the competitions we could end up going home. A lot of things fell our way and next thing you knew, we were sitting in the Final 3 with Derrick and I competing in the final HOH together. It was like, Wow, I couldn’t believe that 96 days ago, when we linked up together, that we would make it to the Final 2.
You had the power to decide whom you would be sitting next to after winning the final HOH competition. Why pick Derrick over Victoria, who seemed to be easier to win over?
Honestly it never crossed my mind to backstab the guy that I owed so much of my game to and who I put all my trust in for an entire season. I felt like that would wreck the character I tried to build in myself to cross somebody who I built a game relationship with and who I trusted a lot of my decisions with. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk so much, but he was literally my best friend and I could go to him if something was bothering me or if people were getting on my nerves, so crossing someone like that would not have been a decision I would have been able to deal with outside of the house.
Read more ‘Big Brother 16’ winner revealed
What was it about Derrick that made you trust him so fully?
Early on in the game, when the whole Bomb Squad started, it literally was said right to me, “We were questioning you because of how you were acting with the girls.” And that was on the second day being in the Big Brother house. And I thought, “I got questioned on the second day when everyone was interacting with a bunch of brand-new people?” For me, that was why the Bomb Squad was out for me from the start. Derrick came to me and was like, “We’re going to ride that out, but you’re going to be my ride-or-die guy. We’re going to stick till the end.” That was huge. Seeing the kind of a person he was in the game — he could have ended up doing some things that could have made me question him a little bit, but he never did. Further in the game, it made the trust even more. And when questionable stuff was going down, I never was going to question my right-hand man in the game. Having that trust in somebody, I feel like is difficult to get in the Big Brother house, and when you have it it’s something you don’t let go of.
There was a moment on the feeds where you realized that you may not have the votes to win against Derrick in the Final 2. Were you toying with cutting Derrick at all in the Final 3?
I thought a lot about it, thinking that I had a bitter jury coming toward me because I had crossed a lot of them, but honestly at the end of the day, mid-season I even said this to Derrick, “I think it’s going to be tough for me to make it any further because I have the trust of every houseguest and sooner or later people are going to get crossed and I’m going to be dragged out in the dirt.” Getting to the end and having to cross everybody, I knew it was going to be extremely difficult, but I wasn’t going to take a cop-out and not take a guy who I made it that far with. I was really happy with my decision.
Could you have won over Victoria?
A lot of people didn’t get the conversation that was had with a bunch of the guys. If Victoria got to the end, she would have gotten some spiteful votes and maybe pulled it out. This is Big Brother, absolutely. If it happened that way and I lost to her, that would have been devastating that I sent home the guy that I worked with the entire time. Losing to Derrick, who is a huge player in the game, that’s something I can live with.
Derrick had a couple of secrets that he kept from you.
Yeah, just a couple.
What was your initial reaction to the Team America reveal and finding out Derrick’s involvement?
Team America was tough because knowing that he was winning that much money. After the jury asked their questions, I felt like a lot of what they felt was masterminding fell on [Derrick] when I felt like it was a huge duo that we had. Finding out all that stuff, I was like, Dang, this kid is going to win a lot of money. I thought the votes weren’t going to swing my way and I thought, Crap, not only did I just hand him $50K for bringing him to the Final 2, he’s about to smoke it with $500K on top of all that money. It was just brutal. It was a lot to take in at once.
Were you surprised by Derrick’s reveal that he was an undercover cop?
The undercover cop thing, I think that’s epic. I always said I was going to be the guy who was 100 percent fooled if people were lying because I wasn’t going to give in to paranoia. Everybody was doing it. Frankie was doing it because he was paranoid about himself. Derrick seemed pissed when Frankie came out with the [Ariana Grande reveal] when in reality he had a huge secret he was hiding. That’s all part of the game, and I think that’s the best part of the game where you can completely lie about who you are and what you do and no one knows until the final day.
Would your approach to The Hitmen have changed had you known about Team America and the cop thing?
Oh my god. If anybody knew anything about Team America, it would change everything in the game. That would be unfair to the people who had the privilege of being chosen for the task. Knowing what happened, I still wouldn’t have crossed him in the game and knowing that I still lost, it wouldn’t have felt right sending him home and taking Victoria.
When I spoke to Julie Chen earlier this week, she said The Hitmen was the strongest alliance of the season. Why did it work so well?
The duo was so big because our social games were very different. He sat back, was the dad, was the nice guy and I was the guy who was extremely outgoing and got the trust of everyone. Everyone fed me information and when I floated all this info to Derrick, it would make a lot of the decision very easy for him because he was a very good player. I thought it was an incredible duo.
What other arguments could you have used in your final speech to sway the jury in your favor? Could you have made a stronger point about the competition wins?
That’s the only thing — I breezed right over it. I never got a question, well, actually I did, I just never was thinking to do it because I was very thrown off by the fact that I was viewed as the puppet, which was so off-base, so I felt like I had to defend that with more strategic game moves when in reality it was me who won the last two vetoes and the last HOH competitions to bring it there. That would have swayed it. But I think their decisions get made before [that]. I don’t think me throwing out competition wins would have swayed any of the votes.
Whose vote were you most surprised by?
Caleb and Christine is an even toss-up for me. Christine, just because of the relationship we had and we were very close in the game and I know she respected the game I played because she said it a couple of times to me. And Caleb had mentioned a lot about how he felt Derrick wasn’t doing a lot in competitions and how he felt like I was doing a lot, especially winning the last couple of comps, [so I thought] that I would grab Caleb’s vote. Not having his was very confusing. I would have loved to have known what he based his decision on.
You were caught in a bit of controversy this season over the “flirtmance” with Christine. Any regrets about that?
I don’t regret how close I got with her. It was very unfortunate that Derrick and I were playing an intense game where we couldn’t talk to [each other] every second of the day because I didn’t even want people to mention our names together. It was big that we stayed split apart. Christine was someone I always was close with, like consistently. Maybe some of the hand-touching, playing with the hair, it was probably a little on my end. Maybe I could have pulled it back and have more respect for her husband, but it’s tough to change the game you’re playing with every single girl in the house. I kind of hold it on myself. I wish I thought about that because I hate that it weighs on her because she was one of my best friends and I hate that she even has to deal with something like that because I know our relationship was us being extremely good friends. She told me [things] all the time about her husband, all the time about her family and I would talk to her about my family. I never came close to viewing it that way. It’s very unfortunate that it was viewed like that. Her and I were just extremely close in the house. I’ll be pretty upset if it affects the relationship they have outside of the house.
Your father is a huge fan of Big Brother. What did he say about how you played?
I mean, he loved how I played. He told me how proud of me he was. A lot of people that were saying that my game was [being played] well were people my dad respected. Just the fact that I made it to Final 2, I don’t think he cared about the game I played, just making it to the end like that — it’s a huge feat. He was very proud.
Would you return to the game if you were asked back?
Oh my god. I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to come back. My strategy? I’d have to rethink a lot. I came into the house and acted as myself and fell into this social game that worked out drastically. I don’t know if I’d change anything. If I did come back and [Derrick’s] not there it would definitely be tough.
Most memorable moment in the house?
I can say it over and over: Zach. A lot of the small comments [he’d make]. We’d be around the pool table and someone would come outside that he didn’t like and then they’d pop inside, his small one-liners would have us rolling on the floor. This kid was so beyond funny. Having him around, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing, was the best part of the summer.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know at the moment. Just seeing where everything falls after this, going back home — everything’s so scrambled at the moment. Seeing what comes out of this. I have no idea, but I’m excited to find out.