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The 53-year-old computer engineer from Terry Town, La., appeared to be blindsided after Michael Skupin, a returning player and member of Artis’ original tribe, Tandang, decided to vote with the other alliance, effectively saving fellow returning player Jonathan Penner.
Artis joined RC Saint-Amour and Jeff Kent on the jury, with eight players left in the game.
On Thursday, he talked to The Hollywood Reporter about why he disliked Skupin, whether Abi-Maria Gomes had a hand in his being voted out and why it’s a “horrible idea” to take her to the final three.
The Hollywood Reporter: Were you surprised it was you who was voted out?
Artis Silvester: No. People may think I was, but I wasn’t. After the immunity challenge, I ran through all the possible scenarios of who they would target on Tandang, and hands down it was easy to know it was going to be me. It was easy to figure out who was going to [vote] where. It all came down to one vote, and I did my best to try to convince that person to stay aligned with us and basically save myself, and it just didn’t work out.
THR: Are you talking about Skupin?
Artis: Everybody keeps thinking I’m talking about Skupin, but it’s not Mike.
THR: Was it Lisa [Whelchel]?
THR: Who was it?
Artis: I’d rather not say, but I really don’t understand why everybody thinks it was Mike knowing the distaste I have for Mike.
THR: It’s because he and Lisa were in an alliance, but they voted differently last night.
Artis: Trust me. Everybody knows Mike would never ever vote any way that’s going to save me if he can save himself.
THR: He also had an alliance with RC, but they voted differently in a previous tribal council, which effectively led to her elimination.
Artis: You have to look at that. He had the opportunity to give her the chance to at least fight to stay in the game, and I’m pretty sure she thought she had a shot, and he threw her under the bus. Everybody thought he and RC were voting together; it was a given, so for him to do it hurt his chances in the game and confirmed what everybody was thinking. It should have been a red flag not to trust Mike.
THR: Why did you dislike Mike so much?
Artis: It has nothing to do with the game play, and he knows this because I didn’t hide it from him. We talked about it, and for him not to acknowledge it, again, is just another thing for me to realize my evaluation of him was correct. We had personal issues, and again, the game play I can deal with. I’m OK with the game play; everybody is going to play the game. But when you start affecting me and doing things personally, we have huge problems, and we can solve it any way you want to solve it, but I am going to confront you about it. I am not going to walk away, or hide behind the TV cameras and say something behind your back.
THR: Can you give an example or elaborate on what he did to upset you?
Artis: No, because I would have to say things that I haven’t gotten the opportunity to say to him. I have no problem elaborating on it, but there are things that need to be said to him to his face before he hears it from a second party.
THR: Do you plan to talk to him at the finale [the live finale airs Dec. 16]?
Artis: Probably not without security [laughs].
THR: At tribal council, Abi raised eyebrows when she announced she didn’t think Lisa, a longtime member of her alliance who had just shown her loyalty at the previous tribal council, was trustworthy. Do you think that ultimately had a part in your getting voted out?
Artis: Absolutely, 100 percent, Abi had something to do with it. I don’t know what goes on in her mind. I never aligned with Abi; I aligned with Pete, but there was no way to align with Pete without getting Abi. If you watch the show, you very rarely see me hold a conversation with Abi. There’s good reason for that. Abi is abusive, and she does not know how to talk to people. At some point, everybody on Survivor is abusive to somebody, but she is consistent at it. I don’t know if she knows how to have a civil conversation. Maybe that’s a character she is portraying — if so, great job. Nobody is voting her off, and everybody wants to take her to the end, which is a horrible idea because you have no control over who the jury gives the money to. The whole season, everybody could be saying, “Abi will never get a vote.” The whole season could go on like that, and all of a sudden Abi is sitting there in the jury in the final three, and you don’t know what the jury might do. They could be like, “There’s no way in hell she should be here. Why not give her a million dollars?” You think you’re locked and loaded, and you’re really not.
THR: So you would take the most deserving players with you to the finals and not the people who are the easiest to beat?
Artis: It never plays out like that because people are scared. You’re playing for a million dollars, and they want the easy way out, but they don’t take into account they don’t have control over that. The jury awards the money, and now you’re in a situation where if you can’t present a valid argument about why you should win, then you are sitting there hoping and praying they give it to you instead of knowing you got it.
THR: Everybody seemed to be gunning for the returning players [Skupin, Penner and Russell Swan, the latter of whom has already been eliminated]. So why are two of them still out there?
Artis: Skupin is still out there for one reason: Tandang never went to tribal council. And Penner is great at what he does. People need to take into account, this is his third time playing the game. If he’s not good at it by now, he should never play again. It’s his third time and this is his area of expertise; it’s what he does for a living, tell stories [Penner is a writer].
THR: He was also working his storytelling magic on Lisa in last night’s episode.
Artis: Oh yeah, he’s a great storyteller. I could win with Mike; I could beat Mike at almost anything except carnival games. He’s got seven kids, so he’d be great at carnival games. But the physical and mental challenges, it’s not even a contest. But Penner is adept at the game. But he should be; he’s playing for the third time.
THR: What was the hardest thing about playing Survivor?
Artis: Being wet. If you watch one of the early episodes, there was one shot where I was in the shelter, and it had been raining continuously, forever. My skin was nearly white and wrinkled and so soft that nearly anything that touched it would cut it open. But I was still having a good time, even while being miserable.
THR: Anything else you’d like to say about your time on the island?
Artis: I’m disappointed at being perceived as an angry black man. I was far from angry out there. But as long as the fans are happy and enjoying it, then I can bite that bullet.
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