HitFix Interview: Krista Klumpp talks ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’

Krista Klumpp’s CBS “Survivor” bio contains what ended up being a telling quote.
Asked which “Survivor” contestant she’s most like, Krista replied, “I thought I was most like Natalie White because we had such similar backgrounds, but I expect to play the game with a little more edge.”
When she gave that quote, the 25-year-old pharmaceutical rep had no way of knowing that she was going to find herself on a tribe with Russell Hantz, the man responsible for taking Natalie White to the Finals and ultimately responsible for her winning the million dollar prize. 
While hitching herself to Russell’s vicious, cutthroat star proved to be a good move for Natalie, Krista wasn’t as lucky. When the Zapatera tribe successfully picked off the notorious villain, they immediately targeted his two allies, voting off first Krista and then Stephanie.
Krista’s “Survivor” fate was sealed this week with a Redemption Island loss to Matt, leading to an exit interview the following morning.
Click through…
HitFix: So every week, people head off to Redemption Island and they’re all determined to beat Matt and stay in the game and then they end up seeming almost honored to be eliminated by him. What’s up with Matt?
Krista Klumpp: I think it’s something powerful that is non-explainable. You know? He’s like the perfect person to have there for people who are going out. It’s hilarious how his personality is so magnetic and he creates a great atmosphere and a stress-free atmosphere and an enlightened atmosphere. It’s nothing like when you’re at your camp. I always felt like I was going to come out the winner, but if I didn’t, I was OK with Matt being the one to beat me, because I think he has a chance and I like his strength.
HitFix: But everybody who’s being eliminated is coming back from Redemption Island saying the same thing. Do you think that makes Matt extra-dangerous if he gets back into the game?
KK: Well, I don’t know how it’s going to work with getting back into the game, because you don’t know when it is or how that’s all going to play out. But yeah, if he does get back into the game, he’s going to be a huge threat. You know, Rob voted him out for a reason, because he felt like he was going to be a threat and just for that matter in general, his getting back in would be really hard for him, if he has that chance.
HitFix: Let’s go back to the beginning of the game. In your “Survivor” bio, you said that the contestant you knew you’d be compared to would be Natalie White. And there you are standing on the beach and down comes a helicopter and out steps Russell. What went through your mind?
KK: [She laughs.] Crap. I’m going home first. That was honestly it. When they were pulling for buffs, I was thinking, “Please don’t have Russell pick ours, because he’s going to look at me as being a lot like Natalie and Natalie beat him.” That was my thought process. And when we get to our camp, I wanted to know everyone’s thought process on Russell, I was feeling like if he’s gonna go after me in the beginning, I hope that everybody’s going to be  ready to get him off. That was my first thought. But everyone was OK with him. Everybody liked the fact that he was going to use his experience, his expertise to help our tribe and stay strong. Those were the words that I got, exactly, from people like Steve and Mike. So in the beginning, I was like, “Great. Russell’s not gonna like me, cuz I’m like Natalie and everyone likes Russell because he’s going to bring his experience and I’m gonna be the first to go.” But it just so happened that Russell looked at me as being an asset to him, because he thought I’d be a lot like Natalie and they had a great alliance and made it to the end. But then everyone got paranoid with Russell’s gameplay and how he made them think about the game all the time and I just happened to be on the other side once their thought process changed.
HitFix: So he approached you and you found yourself in an alliance with him. How much did you trust him? How much did you like being in that position there?
KK: I trusted him in the beginning as much as I needed to at that point, to tell you the truth. When Russell came to me at first about who he thought would be strong in an alliance of five, I was like, “Well, what’s your thought process like all the way to the end?” And Russell flat-out said, “I’m not going to promise you anything.” I liked that. He’s not saying, “I’m gonna take you to the end. We’re gonna be the Final 3. Done deal.” He was honest and he was like, “I’m not gonna go and say that. All I’m gonna say is that in this five that I think we’ll have, I want you to be a part of it.” And I was like, “That’s fine. Let me make it to the five, and I’ll do the rest.” So that’s where my trust lined up with him in the beginning.
HitFix: And how did things progress?
KK: Well, as you saw, I think everybody started to see Russell and Stephanie and I just having normal conversations, just talking, and most of the time it wasn’t about the game, but I think they just looked at that and got so paranoid with Russell’s past and thought that Russell was going straight into playing the game with just me and Stephanie and that was it. Instead of thinking, “Oh great, Russell normally takes two, well he’s gotta have more numbers,” they just got so paranoid with the three. That’s funny to me. To me, even if they thought that they weren’t part of the three, I would think they’d want to be four or five, because of Russell’s track record, and then they could find a way to vote Russell out, if that’s what they want to do later on. But not in the beginning. I don’t know, they just got paranoid with Russell’s track record with Stephanie and I and they have such fun, strong personalities that I was attracted to that. They talked about the game all the time. They had so much to say, Russell had so much to say about the game and what options there were and how this could happen and play out. He was thinking about the future too and when the Merge came and all of that stuff. He didn’t have anybody penned down like “Let’s vote this person out” or “Let’s vote that person out.” That all just came when we realized that we had to.
HitFix: And what was your relationship with Stephanie like? How much did you trust her?
KK: In the beginning, when Russell came to me about the fact that he wanted to trust Stephanie, I was really worried about that. I asked him a couple of times, “Are you sure you trust her? I don’t know about that…” Because Stephanie is very opinionated. From the first word, it’s “This is what I think. Let me do this. Let me do this.” That kind of thing. You see it very clearly. So I was cautious about Stephanie from the beginning, but Russell saw something in her that he could trust. And once I got to see what he saw, he was right. He has great judgment on who he picks in alliances. 
HitFix: What did you grow to see?
KK: I didn’t know if my personality was going to mix with hers, but once I realized that she had great intentions for the game and the alliance and her strategic thought process and once I saw how strong she was as a person and as an individual — both in general, but also in the game — I was so impressed with that and sold on the fact that she’s definitely someone who I wanted to align with and to go to the end with, too. My thought process was that if we could all three make it to the end, I felt like she was going to stir up so much with the other tribe members, because she had such a strong personality, that I would get more votes in the end. I felt like it was going to work out pretty well for me, assuming that we were going to be in the Final Three.
HitFix: So how was it, then, that after Russell went out, you became the next target rather than Stephanie. Do you have a sense of why you were viewed as the bigger threat?
KK: I’ve been saying this, I don’t know if there was a rhyme or reason to their decision. That’s my take on it and why I keep saying that they’re not playing the game. I feel like it was just a toss-up, one or the other. I don’t think they thought “Krista could be more trustworthy” or “Krista, when we get to the merge, could really align with some of the other girls and make those connections” or I don’t think they were like, “Well, Stephanie’s gonna be stronger in challenges.” I don’t think they even talked about that. That’s what I mean by saying that I couldn’t see any of their strategic thought process. Mike said that they were playing, but I have yet to see it on TV. I don’t know. I can’t give them any strategic thought process on whether it was going to be Stephanie or me.
HitFix: As a last question… Time to put on your Hypothetical Hat: If Russell doesn’t walk onto the beach that first morning, how do you imagine your game would have played out? Who do you think you would have found yourself aligning with under different circumstances?
KK: Without Russell and knowing the personalities, I think that from the beginning I would have connected very well with Stephanie, Dave… um… And that’s about it. 
HitFix: So you would have found yourself in a minority regardless?
KK: Yeah. I really feel like that. I’m telling you… The conversations that I had, it was really like hearing a tape recorder over and over and over of the same story, the same boring story, nothing deeper. That’s what I mean when I said that I got to see Matt, talk to Matt, he had so much more substance in his first five sentences than I had heard in the entire time with the people on my tribe.
Previous “Survivor: Redemption Island” Exit Interviews: