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Over the course of Survivor lore, few players have made it to the merge without ever once previously seeing Tribal Council. Fewer still of this lot have been voted out as the “merge boot,” sent immediately to Ponderosa to serve as the first member of the jury. The latest member of that elite group comes with the added asterisk of reaching the jury portion of the game, getting voted out at his very first Tribal, being sent home with an unplayed hidden immunity idol in his pocket, and never once even casting a vote.
Ladies and gentlemen: Chris Noble.
As the third Naviti eliminated from Survivor: Ghost Island and the first member of the jury, Chris made an enormous impression in his seven weeks on the show. His rivalry with Domenick Abbate was the talk of the town all season long, until its explosive culmination in this week’s episode. Even after his torch was snuffed (which itself was a bit of a feat), Chris continues providing onscreen entertainment in the form of his Ponderosa video, one of the very best in existence.
While Chris only attended one Tribal Council, he had a front row seat at some of the season’s most explosive events, not the least of which includes this week’s secret mission to Ghost Island. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, here’s how the so-called Noble One views his Survivor experience.
Tell me about watching the episode back. What was your experience like?
It’s pretty amazing. Last night’s episode was absolutely phenomenal. Yes, I went home…but damn, that was good TV. (Laughs.) I knew what was happening, and I was at the edge of my seat. That’s all I could ask for as a fan, as a viewer, and even as a contestant. Especially for Dom and I…we’ve been waiting for this episode since honestly, even before the season started. Dom is a diehard fan. It was an honor to be part of a battle with such a great competitor like Dom. He won, I got voted out, but the television behind this madness was incredible. Win or lose, I’m so happy I was a part of it. I gave it all I had.
Did Wendell prepare you at all for what he said about you in the voting booth?
No, Wendell did not prepare for me that. I’ll be the first to say that him and I have definitely created a good bond since the game’s been over. But last night was…sort of ridiculous. This is generally what I say in times like that: in moments of adversity, in doubt, how you react shows your true character. I was the one who got voted out and I handled it in a first class manner with respect to both guys. He wasn’t voted out, and he handled it poorly with no class. I think that was over the top.
Talk me through your side of what happened. The big question I keep seeing people ask is why you didn’t play your immunity idol, especially after Dom played his legacy advantage. What’s your answer?
There were so many dynamics, that it’s all going to be clouded. I knew votes were coming my way. I had a plan where if Dom and Wendell both played their idols, or if they didn’t play their idols, I would play mine. Dom played his advantage, [and Wendell didn’t], and I took a risk and didn’t play mine. The only way I was going to win this game is if the idol lasted me another Tribal. I wasn’t going to play it for the sake of making it two or three more days, just to get voted out. I had to be real with myself that that was what I was up against. Most people in the tribe, I felt like they were out there on vacation, rather than playing the game how it should have been played. Anyone who had the kind of power that Dom and Wendell had, as a power couple, everyone knows they should have gone home.
And you were banking on everyone being on board with that? It was a true blindside, in the sense that you didn’t know everyone had rejected your pitch.
I was not 100% confident that people were going to go with me. But what didn’t make the edit is I went to five people individually who I thought I could trust, and asked them for their points of view and whatnot. They all lied to me. My intention was not to talk to 10 people at the water well. My intention was to talk to Des and Angela alone. Everyone decided to follow. They followed, and no one said anything, and 22 days in, fed up with all of these people who were on vacation and not playing the game, I just said what the real deal was. My impulsive behavior and frustration was a mistake, and it cost me the game.
Everybody voted for you except Desiree and Angela. Who did you feel the most betrayed by? For me, I was very surprised to see Sebastian write your name down.
Sebastian, absolutely. Donathan was a close second. I know damn right that no one else made those deep and sincere connections with Donathan like I did. I had lived in Eastern Kentucky for a year, so I knew that, man, this kid? What an honor to play with this kid. To be gay in Eastern Kentucky? That takes a lot of strength to come out here and leave that area that’s still so far behind this world, and to have the strength to come out here and play this game…it was a very amazing story to me. Then we connected on this great and crazy dynamic that we both take care of the two women in our lives. To see that he was the first one to put the plan in order against me? I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit bitter about that. But in time, I’ll separate the game from the show and I’ll be okay with it.
Is it hard not to feel a little bit raw today, having watched it all back last night, even though it all happened months ago?
It’s raw in some moments. But at the same time, like I said in my Ponderosa video, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. If I didn’t take risks in life, I’m not on Survivor. I’m not winning Survivor if I don’t take risks. So I took a risk. It happened to be at my first Tribal, and that’s it. Making it six-plus more days by risking it was a lot more appetizing to me than just playing my idol for myself to be safe for two or three more nights, knowing I would be the next one again.
In the spirit of risking it, tell me about the secret mission to Ghost Island.
First off, my only worry was this: Dom was a night owl. This guy does not sleep. I made sure that I waited a good hour or two until everyone was really knocked out before I snuck out. Time was a blur. All told, it was about an hour. It was the most incredible and amazing moment that I have had to myself, ever. The trip was thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The waves were crashing over me. There were huge gusts. The stars were beautiful. I could see the Milky Way clearer than I could ever see it in my life. And here, Chris Noble — me — I’ve made it to this point in my life and I’m having it all to myself…regardless of what was to come at Ghost Island, it was just the most incredible experience I have ever had. I’m so happy I risked my vote for that idol. That vote took away power from me in that Tribal, but that’s okay.
How would you compare your two trips to Ghost Island?
Going to Ghost Island at night…it’s crazy. There’s an aura about that place. No joke. That aura became even creepier — or spookier, if we want to go that route — by going there at night with the torches lit up and going up and down the wooden ladder. The idol was just sitting there, with the platform where I had to risk it…it was such a crazy experience.
Did anybody know about the trip?
No one had a clue I was gone. I guarantee you that. Every person on this tribe had no clue I did that. That’s what’s awesome: I kept it a secret for seven months.
You didn’t even tell them after the game?
No. I didn’t want them to know. I knew that them seeing I had an idol, and then I got blindsided, that from a fan’s perspective? I couldn’t do that to them. I had to let them really enjoy something that no one knew. We all know everything that happened in the game, but that was my biggest-kept secret. I did it for the sake of the show.
You must tell me about how the Ponderosa rap video came together, because it is the most spectacular thing I have ever seen.
First off, I am humbled that you and a lot of other people thought that was great. I really hope you guys see the humor behind the lyrics and how the video is scripted. [James Seale and Ryan Browning, the producers behind the video] deserve a lot of credit because they were really creative with how we were going to film it. What a lot of people don’t know is I was sick for days once I got back to Ponderosa. Everything happens for a reason. If I didn’t get voted out when I did, this video does not happen. There was about a day or two, the whole time I was at Ponderosa, where I actually felt semi-healthy. I wrote the lyrics in two hours. We woke up the next day and filmed for about four hours. We put it together. You know what? I went out with a bang. I hope I did a great job giving people a personality, taking them away from their real lives, and giving them a little bit of entertainment.
Mission thoroughly accomplished. Tell me more about your health leaving the game. You said you were sick. If you hadn’t been voted out, would your health have been an issue in the game? What was happening?
What happened was…I was sick because I ate way too much when I got back to Ponderosa. (Laughs.)
It looked like a good burger!
Oh, it was good. So were the two sundaes I pursued afterward. I was so sick afterward. I was going to the bathroom every five or 10 minutes for three days straight. When my body finally healed from that, I had an allergic reaction to prawns — which I don’t have allergies to! My face swelled up and my ears swelled up. You know that movie Hitch, when Will Smith has the allergic reaction? That was me! I woke up one morning and people were like, “What the hell?” In the rap video, here’s a cool tie-in that only people from the cast would know since we’ve all talked about it since: That’s when my lyric about the swell line comes in. “Dom sent me home, I lost a million, and I got a swell eye.” The swell eye is because of my illness. Those are some cool tie-ins that come from that. Right when I got better, we had a day or two to film it all, pretty much just a day, because there are other castaways coming in one by one and the [Ponderosa videos] have to be dedicated to them. We were already behind the eight ball because I was sick when we had it all to myself. So we had a one-day window. We got it in in that one-day window, and immediately after it wrapped up — and I’m not joking — immediately after, I started feeling ill. The next five or six days, my throat swelled up and my energy was all gone. My body just shut down. I was on medication the rest of the time I was out on the island. The beauty of that video is that it was in my one good day I had while I was in Ponderosa, and I was out there longer than everybody else.
Have you had a chance to connect with JT about the cursed idol?
I have not had the chance. Life has been very crazy as of late. But I definitely intend to reach out to him. He is a legend in Survivor. He’s a great personality and character. Hell, he’s been on the show three times or something, right? I definitely intend to reach out, because I enjoyed watching him. We both share the same idol that we both got blindsided on.
JT went out for three rounds of Survivor. Are you up for round two? Is the Noble One ready for another shot at Survivor?
I think the most noble thing to do would be to go back for round two. When you end on a rap video like that and you go 22 days in the game and you never actually get to cast a vote, and get voted out? I think you sort of have to!
For your information, you have your epic rap video, and JT actually has a fairly epic Ponderosa music video of his own, with Coach and Courtney, called “The Dragons.”
Wouldn’t that be something! Or, how about this: Wouldn’t it be something if Dom and I went back out there again? Think about that.
Intriguing. Would you be able to work together this time?
You know what? I’m going to let the Survivor gods dictate on that. I’m not going to give anything more. I think our imaginations should run wild with that.
Consider it done. Thanks for everything you brought to the show, Chris. Sad to see you go.
Hey, it’s an honor. I was just happy to be here. I’m blessed with this opportunity. Much love to all of you guys in the Survivor community. Thank you for bringing me in. I know I wasn’t a huge fan, one of the big-timers that come out there, but I respected the game and I cherished every moment of it.
• Week 1: Gonzalez and Jacob’s exits, explained
• Week 2: The return of James Clement’s idol
• Week 3: Michael’s “double idol” gamble
• Week 4: Ending Stephanie’s dreams
• Week 5: Probst on James’ elimination
• Week 6: The return of three iconic artifacts
• Week 7: The Noble One’s bogus journey
Weekly exit interviews:
• 20th place: Stephanie Gonzalez
• 19th place: Jacob Derwin
• 18th place: Morgan Ricke
• 17th place: Brendan Shapiro
• 16th place: Stephanie Johnson
• 15th place: James Lim
• 14th place: Bradley Kleihege
• 13th place: Chris Noble
Preseason player profiles:
• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland
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