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Big Brother season 18 is a little less than a month away. Yes, the clock is ticking for host Julie Chen to, once again, utter her favorite word. You know what it is.
Will past houseguests return or will there be a whole new cast brought into the fold for the fourth season straight? Many doubt it’s the latter, but there are four Big Brother veterans who may actually have all the answers.
The first, last season’s fan favorite and self-proclaimed “Big Brother historian,” Jason Roy. Next is season 16 winner Derrick Levasseur, an undercover cop from Rhode Island who is now decorated as one of the show’s legends. Then there’s the former houseguest whom fellow alumni cite as the best player to never win the game, Danielle Reyes from season three. Last but not least is fan favorite and season 13 winner Rachel Reilly, who has not only managed to turn her showmance into the first Big Brother marriage, but also just gave birth to the first-ever Big Brother baby.
Here, The Hollywood Reporter talks to all four about their predictions for how the upcoming season will unfold.
Last season brought back a twist that was used in a past season. What twists from past seasons would you like the show to bring back?
Roy: One twist that I would like to bring back, but I don’t want to be involved with it at all — I want to be the farthest person away from it — is the estranged family or enemy in season eight. We had Joe and the Dustin and Daniele and Evel Dick Donato. Bringing in previous relationships can be a detriment or it can help you in the game. For the twins, it was a help, but if you’re in there with your arch nemesis, that’s not going to be a help. That is one of the best and most evil twists they’ve done.
Reyes: I love the season when they had the Donatos in there, or even season six where they had secret partners. I would love to see something like that because no one seems to be able to keep the secret.
Reilly: My dream twist is for them to do twists they’ve done in the past and redo them with the spin. I was hoping for that last year, that they would do a different twist every week. But the BB Takeover fell apart. I want the twists to last. I guess that would be better for all-stars though.
Levasseur: I’m not a huge fan of twists. I like a very organic game. But if I had to pick a twist that I’d like to see come back, Battle of the Block! No, no, I’m just kidding! I’d want them to do another America’s Player like Dan was, where one of the players is actually doing the bidding for America. America is in there playing the game.
Which twist from seasons past do you hope is not in next season?
Reilly: The saboteur. (Laughs.) No saboteurs unless they cast someone just to be a saboteur. Annie from my season said they told her while she was going through casting that she would be the saboteur. So I’d like someone to be cast knowing that they’re the saboteur earlier so they can start thinking ahead of the game and not be forced into the role.
Levasseur: I do not like the MVP twist.
Reyes: I don’t want to see any person coming in that is related to a past houseguest and America knowing that. Like Elissa, whom I love to pieces, but it’s kind of an unfair advantage because they already have a fan base. If they do that, I don’t want America to know that this person’s related to a past houseguest. If Janelle’s little brother walks in, it would be a disadvantage for America to know that. Automatically they’re going to vote for him to stay in the game because who doesn’t love Janelle? It has to be a situation where if they do that, then hopefully it will be a secret for quite some time, to see if America genuinely likes that person, because it would be awesome if America hated the person who was connected to a fan favorite from a previous season.
Roy: I don’t want to see any golden keys, because I don’t want anybody just being silent and floating their way along. Certainly don’t want to see any damn twins again. I don’t want to see coaches. If there’s returnees, I either want to see them return with different types of twists, or be just players.
There have been talks that next season would be all-stars, or half veterans and half newbies. Do you think that’s happening?
Roy: It would be cool. It’s been a long time since we have had BB veterans together, maybe about five years, so it would be good to see BB go back and try that twist again. I would do it in a second for free.
Levasseur: It’s more likely to be a half-and-half than it is all-stars. What happens with all-stars is you have people who are at different points in their lives and unable to do it. To get them all in on the same season is really difficult. If they find eight people who are entertaining and couple them with eight new people it makes for good TV. I was a fan of season 13 and it was unfortunate Evel Dick went out the way he did because it would have been a completely different season. There was talk about having 20 or 30 houseguests the first night on the show and they’re going to compete and 15 or 16 will get in. That’s awesome. It’ll separate everybody right away. Stick everyone outside on an ice cube and if they want it bad enough they’ll be there all night. I know a bunch of people who work in production, and we’re going to see something really special this year. I don’t care how cool you think you are with production, unless you’re in production you don’t know anything.
Reyes: It would be expense to do that, because we already have a following, but I would love to see newbies and alumni play again. I do like people who have no idea about the show at all, and get in there and just play. Those tend to be more entertaining because they don’t know what to expect. It’s just so raw and real. When I played in my original season, I had never watched one episode of the show, so I was completely new to the game.
Reilly: I’ve heard there’s going to be some returning houseguests. It’s going to be some sort of returning players versus new players, not as a coach and not what we did in season 13 where we were duos. There might be 30 people that compete to get in so it might be a season where you have to really want it to be able to stay in the game. I think they’re going to have a twist where you have to give stuff up or do a competition and they’re going to make you really want it. I know in Big Brother everyone talks about how Derrick played such a great game, but it’s more fun for me to watch the people who are there to compete because they’re the people that give us entertainment. As much fun as it is to see Derrick be everyone’s best friend, it’s not as exciting unless he has to save himself every week, which is what Dan Gheesling had to do.
Which veterans would most likely be asked back to play again?
Reilly: I would love to see Vanessa [Rousso] play again. She’s one of those people that was playing because she had to save herself. She would have to change her strategy completely. Whereas Derrick was always safe. No one was really going after Derrick. I would love to see Frank Eudy play again. All of the girls I would want to see play again either have babies or are pregnant this year, including myself. (Laughs.) Daniele Donato, I would love to see her play again. We always see her bring it, she’s always there to compete, she’s always there to twist people’s heads and she’s playing the game the entire time. Danielle Murphree would be fun to see because last time she was so naive with Dan’s game. And she was in a weird showmance.
Reyes: Who doesn’t want Dr. Will, right? Everyone loves Dr. Will. I would love to see from my season Lisa [Donahue]. I mean she won the money but I know she wants to play that game one more time. And how can we leave out Jun, the queen of floaters? I would like to see her play one more time because I know she’s just, she doesn’t care.
Roy: Oh, there’s obviously really, really smart players, especially in recent years. People like Derrick and Vanessa have really stepped things up, almost to a whole other level than it was years ago. You want to see a lot of the geniuses back of course, almost to see if they’re a genius the second time around or not. But I love loud, bright personalities, so I would like to see some people come back that we maybe just didn’t get enough of, like my girl Da’Vonne [Rogers].
Levasseur: I’ll go on record and say I will not be on Big Brother this season. I could see them bring back Zach [Rance], Donny [Thompson], Nicole [Franzel] or Frank Eudy. They’re going to go with a lot of fan favorites — Amanda Zuckerman, because she brings an entertainment factor to the show. Some people once in a while just want to see people fight. They want the drama.
Which players definitely wouldn’t be asked back?
Reilly: Oh my gosh, am I allowed to answer that? I feel like I should plead the Fifth. They won’t ask players who have played twice. It won’t be all all-stars because there are not a lot of all-stars available. They would obviously want to invite back Derrick or Vanessa, but they don’t have a lot of good options right now to ask back. They’re going to have to wait for all all-stars, maybe season 20.
Levasseur: There won’t be any previous winners in there. If they’re going to do a winner they need to do all winners, even Julie Chen said it.
Reyes: That’s a good question. I won’t answer though. (Laughs.)
Roy: From my year probably all of them wouldn’t be asked back. A lot of people know that I was not always the biggest fan of Frankie Grande, someone like that I necessarily may not want to see again.
Past Big Brother players are vocal on social media and will judge how the new cast plays the game. They even attack the players on a personal level. What do you think about that?
Levasseur: I’m not a huge fan of it. I had my words with previous houseguests who have a lot to say. I don’t choose to do it. I made a couple of comments here and there when Vanessa was using the whole poker thing. She was using the money she had outside the game to bribe inside the game. Other than that if you’ve been in that house you know how hard it is. Sometimes people do it because either they love the game or they just want to create some controversy. Those players who judge the current ones all season will probably be the same ones taking selfies with them on finale night.
Roy: For Big Brother Canada I was on the opposite side of this now, and I tried to be very selective about what I thought and what I judged about people. You realize that one day, you are going to meet these people. Once the game is over, you really see the beauty in people, so try and be careful about releasing what your opinions might be. So I will be watching and dissecting, but I’m going to try to be nice. We all know Jason’s Twitter isn’t nice at times.
Reilly: It’s something you can’t help. You don’t want to judge them, but you totally do. When I’m screaming at the TV, I always remember that they are playing the game and I’m just playing the game from home. It’s always so stupid though when people attack them on a personal level. It’s like calm down, they’re just a person and they’re playing the game.
Reyes: They’re entitled to their opinion. It’s no different than fans of the show. I will say this though: I’ve had discussions with houseguests who were upset with certain winners, and I told one houseguest, “He won in one game, and you and I did it two times to try and get it right and we didn’t get it. He has half a million dollars and we don’t, so you shouldn’t be critical.”
The show has been criticized for having a lack of diversity in its cast. Do you think that’s true?
Reilly: I don’t! They have a diverse cast every season. It’s unfair because [casting director] Robyn [Kass] casts people off of who’s going to do well with every other person in the house. You need people who aren’t going to get along, you need people who will go head-to-head, you need people who will have a showmance and be best friends too.
Levasseur: It’s not always about the color of your skin, it’s about backgrounds and upbringings. When you go into that house there’s a very eclectic group of people in there. They might look similar and not that different of a skin color, but at the end of the day they come from different parts of the country and they’re raised completely different, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
Reyes: I’d like to see more diversity, but I understand that they have to be cast based on personality. I do like it to be more diverse. I would love to see an African-American win it — that hasn’t happened yet. They cast African-Americans who weren’t the best players at the time. I also tend to root for villains more than anything, because I like people who are willing to get their hands dirty and don’t care. They crack me up. The show has been diverse, enough to the point where I haven’t stopped watching.
Roy: There was diversity last season by personality type. You need an explosive person, you need a dumb person, you need a manipulative person. They may not look the most diverse, but it may just be because those are the personality type suppliers for that year. I would like diversity though! You know me, I’m always rooting for the diverse underdog. I don’t think there really is a reason for there never being a black winner. It took a very long time for a gay man to win, and we’ve never had a gay woman win. There are a lot of boxes left to be filled.
There is definitely a lot of typecasting.
Roy: Yeah, we’ll have our pretty fillers. There’ll be lots of blond girls. This show is a representation of our country and sometimes our country is not positive at times; there are stereotypes.
Reilly: There is definitely typecasting; that is one thing that I definitely think is true. With that being said, we can always expect to have the Southern personality, someone from California like the ditzy person and surfer. You know what’s funny is they’re always gone first. (Laughs.) Don’t get cast as a California person if you’re reading this! Last year when they cast Audrey, that definitely wasn’t typecasting, that was new. We always see the goofy nerdy guy, and they’ve been doing really well. But maybe we can find a nerdy guy, but also one that’s handsome. Because when you cast the nerdy one they’re a very typical look, but maybe we can get a handsome one. Even if they’re socially awkward, if they’re super hot, all of the girls will be obsessed with them.
Reyes: Who doesn’t want eye candy? I want to see eye candy. It’d be nice, all shirtless men throughout the whole summer, who doesn’t want that? Guys want the pretty girl, or the girl next door, and sometimes people just want the average Joe. You know what I mean? Older people in the show as well. I’d like to see some diversity in age. They’re at a point in their lives where they don’t care anymore. One of the best was Jerry [MacDonald] from season 10 when he yells, “You’re going home!” in that voice. I like that.
Levasseur: Our season and last season were similar as far as roles. When you look at seasons 16 and 17, you could match somebody from each season. I don’t think you’ll have that this season. They’re going to say, “What would we usually cast?” And they’re going to do the exact opposite. We haven’t seen an Evel Dick player in a while. Someone who just goes in and causes havoc. Zach was a little bit of that, but he was a very PG version.
How many showmances will there be?
Levasseur: Maybe the twist is all couples, who knows! I’m obviously completely against them, but there will always be one or two. They put people in there who they think will bond.
Reyes: Three. We always get three, right? We’ve had some marriages out of Big Brother, Jeff and Jordan, Rachel and Brendon, and Dani and Dominic. If you’re single and need to get married, you may want to get on Big Brother.
Reilly: If there’s 30 people and 16 go in, there’s already going to be showmances when all these people are seeing each other for the first time. I’m guessing they’re going to have more than usual this summer because something feels like it’s going to be a hot summer. Do you know what I mean? Let’s go with three. There’s usually at least one that actually goes through it. On Big Brother Canada there’s always three or four. Usually one breaks up, one lasts the entire season, and one fizzles out.
Roy: It’s boys, girls and alcohol, blah, blah, blah, so at least two.
If next season was one of these three, which one would you rather: all first-outs players, all former runners-up, or all newbies?
Roy: First evictees would be great, because that’s one of the most original, unexpected ways they could do it. Annie [Whittington] would win.
Reyes: All runners-up, because I was one. It would be nice to have all runners-up because it would be the losers that get to play again.
Levasseur: All newbies to be honest with you. The reason behind that is first-outs is too much of a risk. You didn’t get to see if the player would be something or not. There’s a reason why they went out first. For runners-up, we’ve had some good runners-up, but we’ve had some that were just taken along.
Reilly: First-outs because they never really got to play the game and I bet you they’ve been boiling over it since they got evicted. Annie would win. Please don’t bring back David [Girton] from season 15. The runners-up sometimes are duds. People pick them because they’re duds. If we had a situation where all the runners-up were Cody [Calafiore], then, yeah, that would work.
Dan was a runner-up on his second season though …
Reilly: It could be good depending on who they pick. I change my answer! I pick the runners-up, you’re right. These were hard questions. (Laughs). We all know Cody would never make that same mistake twice. Dan, people would go after, so Cody or Reyes would win.
Big Brother returns Wednesday, June 22, on CBS. In the meantime, see fan favorites like Reilly, Dr. Will Kirby, and Janelle Pierzina compete on The Price Is Right on Tuesday, May 24, at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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