I’ve never made any secrets that when it comes to “Survivor,” I play favorites. And I’ve never made any secret that on my list of “Survivor” favorites, Amanda Kimmel would rank near the top.
Twice — in China and Micronesia — Amanda made it to the Top Three and addressed the jury with victory and a million bucks in her grasp and twice she let it slip away. Often underestimated as just another pretty face (and the “Survivor” cameramen have obviously always agreed), no less a notorious schemer than Russell Hantz paid her the ultimate compliment by calling her “Boston Rob in a girl’s body.”
Of course, Russell called her that seconds before voting Amanda out on Thursday’s (April 29) “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.”
This was a tough season for Amanda. She was targeted from the very beginning by an alliance within her own tribe. She lost her closest ally when James was injured and had to be voted out. And while she was the only castaway to tell the camera how stupid it was for JT to hand an Idol to Russell, she wasn’t able to prevent the impending disaster.
On the bright side, she was able to go out with one of the show’s most memorable catfights, scratching and clawing to try to keep an Immunity Idol clue out of Danielle’s villainous hands. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s old bedroom!
HitFix caught up with Amanda on Friday to talk about that catfight, whether she actually tried to prevent her elimination and why she’s never planning to play “Survivor” again.
HitFix: So… Finally getting your torch snuffed out on “Survivor,” was it everything you dreamed it would be?
Amanda Kimmel: And more! No, it’s awful. I hated it. I was just mad at myself. I was mad at a lot of things. But what can you do? It’s a game and at the end of the day, there’s a million ways to make a million dollars. It’s not the end of the world.
HitFix: You mentioned that Jeff Probst had been looking forward to extinguishing you one of these days…
AK: Yeah! Definitely. He was aching for it. He was like, “Get Amanda off, please.” I’m assuming it would make him happy.
HitFix: You’d argued your case in front of “Survivor” juries before, but you’d never been on one before. What was the perspective like from the other side?
AK: Ugh. You would not want to be there. It was true. It’s just a waste of precious time. I’d rather be playing the game than sitting on the jury coming up with questions. It was just… Ugh. Eating your your way to lard-dom? No thank you. That’s all you do. You just sit there and eat. That’s all you do.
HitFix: Did you find yourself understanding the jury process more, understanding why they voted the way they did in your first two seasons?
AK: Yeah. And to be honest, if you make it to the end, it’s a good experience to have already been on the jury. It helps you understand where they’re coming from and what they’re looking for as far as votes go. I would have done better my first two times if I would have at least seen my final jury or been on the jury.
HitFix: Sounds like there was a bit of a positive to the experience, to save for next time?
AK: Well, not really. I’m never going to do the show again.
HitFix: You told the camera after you’d been eliminated that things were about to get crazy and you were glad to be away from it all. Why was that what you wanted to say?
AK: Ummm… Just because it was… You know. I mean, I would have been a part of it. It was just like it was at a time and… I don’t know why I said that. It was crazy. It’s like with all of these Immunity Idols, you have no control. They can just show and anyone can get it. It kind of ruins the strategy part of the game, I think. And Russell’s crazy, out of his mind, so…
HitFix: Though one of your best moments in Micronesia came when you were able to play an Immunity Idol. Have you soured on the concept?
AK: No. When I had that, though, I’d been on Exile, so everyone knew that I could have it. Know what I’m saying? This year, if you’re winning a reward, they’re putting them in the reward for anyone to get. So it’s like a wild card.
HitFix: So there are just too many of them?
AK: Yeah. As a viewer, I’d probably love it, but playing the game, it’s annoying. I’m all about putting them in the reward, at least you can kinda control them. You kind of know who will have it. But putting them just randomly for anyone to get? That’s just crazy. It’s crazy. There were too many of them in play. Way too many.
HitFix: Speaking of rewards, it looked as if that Robert Louis Stevenson House reward was as uncomfortable and awkward as any in the show’s history. You seemed nervous and on-edge from the first second.
AK: I was. I knew I had to find the clue to make it any further. Our team needed that and I felt under pressure. Colby and I had to find it and I knew that Colby, he just wasn’t looking for, so it was all on me. I had to find it and I did feel a lot of pressure. I needed to find it and I was going to do whatever it took to get it. That was my last spur-of-the-moment decision. I was like, “Well, I know she has it. I can either call her out in front of Colby and have her scared and try to hide it, or I can just go grab and Colby can back me up and we can read it and get rid of it before she sees it.” So obviously Colby didn’t back me up and that was that.
HitFix: What was up with that?
AK: I think he was just really into the movie. He was so pissed he had to turn off the movie.
HitFix: How disappointed were you that he didn’t stand up for you?
AK: I was mad! I thought it was really selfish of him to be so non-chalant about it. It was imported. We needed that Idol. We needed it. We needed it to make sure that all of our people stayed with us. We needed it to pull Sandra over from the Villains. We needed to have it and I really feel like if he had helped me more, we could have gotten it. But I was the only one looking. He was almost annoyed by it, which annoyed me.
HitFix: How aggressive was that brawl with you and Danielle?
AK: There was a lot they didn’t show. It was really bad. She was cussing me out. She was pissed. Her claws came out. There was hair pulling at one point. It was my first catfight and probably my last. But I really felt like it was kind of out of desperation. I didn’t know what else to do and I really felt like if I grabbed it, it would have at least started the ball and Colby would have jumped on board to at least grab Danielle for a second so I could run and read it and flush it or something.
HitFix: It looked as if it was the kind of thing where it started off almost as a joke, like a game of keep-away, and then escalated and became oddly serious. Was that how it felt?
AK: Well, Danielle was just pissed about it. I didn’t think it was a joke ever. I guess I thought it was kinda funny and I was like, “Oh my God, Amanda. What are you doing? This is so out of character for you!” so I may have been laughing at myself for a minute. But yeah. I twasn’t a joke. I was pretty serious about not giving it back to her.
HitFix: Did you also know that your name was the one the Villains were going to be writing down?
AK: Oh, yeah. For sure. As soon as Parvati and I decided not to work together, I know it was going to be me. And after the Clue Incident, it was for sure going to be. But I really thought that Candice was going to stick with us. I never thought she’d flip like that. It was in her best interest to stay with us. I don’t know why she would have flipped. It didn’t make sense to me. Russell and I kinda played a tug-of-war with Candice that day. He would go talk to her and I would talk to her and then he would talk to her and I would talk to her. It really shocked me, because I was sure that it was Sandra’s convincing that convinced Candice to join the villains, but it wasn’t. It was the other way around and I didn’t know that.
HitFix: Were you surprised to watch last night’s episode and see none of that back-and-forth lobbying on your part?
AK: I didn’t watch the episode, so I don’t know what they showed, but it definitely was a tug-of-war.
HitFix: Why didn’t you watch?
AK: I really don’t like to watch myself on TV, to be honest with you. I really don’t. It just bothers me and I have a hard time doing it.
HitFix: Huh. Yeah. Very little of that showed up. We saw various Villains wonderwhy you’d decided not to fight for yourself.
AK: Wow. Well, I did. We were going to play a thing where… we were trying to make Russell calm down a little bit from being so strategic, so I was trying to play like I knew I was going home, but underneath it, we were playing cards in the shelter trying to get Sandra to come with us. Then when I saw Russell talking to Candice so much, it made me worried, so each time he’d pull her away, I’d pull her.
HitFix: As a last question… People have talked a lot about random differences between what made somebody a Hero or a Villain. Do you think there’s a difference between the way you and Cirie play the game versus how Parvati or Courtney played?
AK: Honestly, anyone could have been a Hero and anyone could have been a Villain. There are just levels of deception in the game of “Survivor.” I think anyone with a higher level of deception went on the Villains and anyone with a lower level of deception went on the Heroes.
HitFix: And quickly, you mentioned earlier that you’re not anticipating a “Survivor” return. Why not?
AK: I’m ready to move on. A passion of mine is organic products and I’m really interested in organic skincare and fragrance. I’m coming out with my own fragrance called Wild and it’s completely organic. It should be out in a month. So I’m just focused on other things. I’m ready to move on. “Survivor” was a blessing and I’m really thankful and I feel really blessed to have had the experience, but I’m ready to move on.
Previous “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” Exit Interviews: