Interview: Corinne Kaplan talks ‘Survivor: Caramoan’

Depending on whether or not you count Brandon Hantz’s self-immolation as a formal “Survivor” elimination — he was voted off, but not at a real Tribal Council — it had been a long time since a Favorite went home in this second “Fans vs. Favorites” installment. 
And if everything had gone according to plan, another fan was going to be sent packing on Wednesday’s (April 3) episode. It seemed as if everybody had a tacit agreement that Sherri was going to be departing next, which worked out for several of the myriad secret alliances bubbling up post-Merge.
But then Corinne Kaplan told her increasingly insecure buddy Dawn about a not-so-hypothetical hypothetical situation in which she was joining with several of the Fans to turn around after Sherri’s elimination and vote Phillip out. Remembering her failures in her own season, Dawn told Cochran about Corinne’s plan and soon everybody knew and suddenly Corinne went from seemingly pulling all the strings to being blindsided.
Just another week on “Survivor.”
In this week’s exit interview, the always quotable “Survivor: Gabon” veteran discusses the pain of being blindsided, her confusion at Dawn’s flip, her frustration at Erik’s wishy-washy vote and being frazzled by Phillip’s craziness. 
Click through for the full Q&A…
HitFix: So halfway through Wednesday’s episode, you so very proudly said that you were looking forward to being part of a blindside. So… How did did that go?
Corinne Kaplan: You know? Not so good. It wasn’t quite the blindside I had in mind.
HitFix: You’re obviously someone who gives a lot of thought to those confessional interviews. Do you give any consideration when you say something like that to how those things might come back to play if something like this happens?
Corinne: I do in a lot of instances. That just wasn’t one of them. Like for example, they would ask me all the time, do I think Malcolm is hot, do I think Malcolm’s attractive? And I would never say it, because I didn’t want to ever look like I liked Malcolm. Cuz I don’t. I think of him like a brother. So I was real cautious about certain things but, you know, you slip every once in a while and, yeah, I look like an idiot. It’s even titled that.
HitFix: Well, at least you got the episode title, which is important sometimes. I guess.
Corinne: [Laughs.] Yes. If you want to go into the episode-title-naming business.
HitFix: We know that Jeff gets fancy sometimes when he lists the votes at Tribal Council, but could you describe the sensation of seeing those first five votes come out for Sherri and then seeing the votes suddenly start coming out with your names on them.
Corinne: It’s horrible, because you know… First of all, the first vote that he picked up that was “Sherri” was my handwriting and I immediately was like, “That’s not good.” And then when he got to five, I know, “It’s Jeff Probst. He’s not gonna go, ‘OK. Sixth person…’ and not read the other votes.” I knew he was building for something and it was going to be something bad. But even when he started reading my name, I thought, “Well, there’s six of us. If we have Erik, like Malcolm says, there are six of us voting and it’s, at the very worst, gonna be a tie.” So I still had hope. But then when he said, “The ninth person voted out…” I knew that meant that it wasn’t a tie and most likely it was me. It’s not fun. It’s a terrible feeling.
HitFix: When we watch, thanks to the magic of editing, we get to watch the different faces that people make as those blindsides progress at Tribal. Do you guys have any awareness of who’s smirking or who’s looking shocked as those votes are read?
Corinne: No. The way we’re seated, you can really only see the person directly next to you. So I can’t see all the way across… No. You have no idea.
HitFix: So then what’s your reaction watching last night on TV and seeing the different reactions as they changed?
Corinne: [She laughs.] Expletive. I was really pissed. I’ve always said that even in the worst of circumstances, even when we send somebody home who I wanted to go home, even if Phillip were to go home, final Tribal is really sad. It’s the end of somebody’s game. It’s not something to laugh at or mock. I feel bad. That person has a lot of emotions and feelings as a human being and it’s not a fun moment, even when you’re sending someone home that you want to go home. The correct reaction isn’t to smile or, like in my season, Sugar was on the ground laughing when they got rid of Randy and it’s so disrespectful. Like, I played a good game. I was nice to you. I was your friend. It shouldn’t please you to no end that I’m getting voted out right now. You shouldn’t have that look on your face. I think it’s just disrespectful. I don’t do that myself.
HitFix: So in a hypothetical world in which things had gone your way at Tribal Council and then you’d blindsided Phillip the following week, what was the expression on your face going to be?
Corinne: Probably deadpan. Yeah, I want Phillip to go home, but I still respect that it’s the end of someone’s game and it’s just sad. That person has feelings. I don’t know. I don’t think that the appropriate reaction is like a s***-eating grin. It’s just not.
HitFix: I know some of you guys talk after the season is over and it allows you to put together some of the pieces that you’ve missed. How much of what happened in Wednesday’s episode, particularly in the second half of the episode, was new to you?
Corinne: None of it. Obviously, Malcolm and I are good friends outside the game and so he explained it to me, but I didn’t know for a long time, until we got home. I had no idea why I was voted out. I really didn’t know. I thought Dawn was my closest friend out there. I didn’t assume that she would turn on me. That conversation, there’s context for that conversation that isn’t really shown. You see that Dawn goes to the well by herself crying and she’s having a really hard time and she starts to unravel. And she’s my best friend out there. I did everything with her. I made all decisions with her. Everything. So I wanted to calm her down. I wanted to sooth her. I was like, “What’s going on?” And we had we had like an hour-long conversation by the well, of which you see two minutes of, and she says to me, “We’re at the bottom of this alliance, Corinne.” She’s like, “Andrea thinks she’s going to the end. Phillips thinks he’s going to the end. Everyone thinks they’re going to take Phillip to the end. Cochran thinks he’s going. We’re at the bottom.” And she starts to really freak out. And to calm her down and because I loved her and she was my friend and I was going to take her with me, I said, “Here’s an option. What about this…” I didn’t say I was doing it. I basically gave her a hypothetical. I said, “We could, potentially… I’ve got Michael. I think Malcolm would work with us…” I start hypothetically putting some pieces together to calm her down and tell her, “No matter what, Dawn, we’re OK. Because we’re gonna go with either this alliance or we’ll jump to this alliance.” But it was always “we.” “We’re gonna do this…” I wasn’t telling her, knowing that she was going to run back and tell anyone else. And I didn’t honestly think that she was that sided with Cochran and I didn’t know until I watched this season that she was. Because Cochran totally screwed her the first time. If I were in her shoes, I never would trust Cochran. Of course I would go with ME over Cochran. I’m as befuddled as anyone else as to why she went back and told them, because really she was in a great position no matter. I can’t explain why she did that.
HitFix: Talk a bit more about that. When you talked to the camera about the way you were strategizing, Dawn wasn’t really a part of your Top 6. But you’re saying now that she would have been?
Corinne: She was always… When Malcolm pitches me the six, I go, “What? Erik? Erik doesn’t say two words to me. How am I gonna trust that Erik’s part of the alliance.” He’s like, “No, no. Erik’s good.” Well OK. Even if that’s the case, OK. You look at six people. All I have is Michael. He has Eddie and Reynold. two people who I’ve known for what, 30 minutes? I don’t really know these guys. And he has Erik, who’s never said two words to me. So he has an Idol and he has three people on his side of the alliance. Right? And I’m a smart player. I know what’s happening here. I don’t know for sure that we’re going to the end together and that he’s gonna actually share that Idol with me. So look at it like, “All you’re giving me is Michael.” I felt like we needed Dawn, I needed Dawn. I needed Dawn because I didn’t believe in Erik and I needed Dawn because I needed more than just Michael on my side. So, for me, I was playing the game with Dawn, but I knew Dawn came with all the baggage and I knew Dawn could only be given so much at the time. So I made a bad decision in telling her and obviously I wish I hadn’t, but at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do and I thought it was going to help Dawn in that time.
HitFix: And what do you make of the game that Erik is playing out there and his decision to vote you out?
Corinne: It’s ludicrous. Who comes to you and says “We’re gonna vote out Corinne” after you already thought we were voting out Sherri five minutes before Tribal and you don’t say, “Why?” You’re the swing vote and you don’t ask “Why?!?” Come on, dude! Come on! I can’t speak to it, because I don’t understand. I could never… I am not a puppet. You can’t come over and tell me to vote somebody who I’m aligned with and I’m just gonna do it? I don’t get it.
HitFix: Do you think you underestimated Malcolm’s ability to deliver Erik? Do you blame him at all for that?
Corinne: I do. Malcolm, his job was to control those three people. I had to manage all of the rest of them. I had to get them off the vote for Eddie or Reynold and onto Sherri. I did a lot of work. I had to calm Dawn down constantly. She cries all the time. I’m dealing with all that! All I asked you to do was keep track of Eddie, Reynold and Erik. That’s all you had to do and you didn’t do it. So yeah. I mean, it’s partly his fault.
HitFix: Malcolm is one of those interesting cases here. He was a favorite, but you guys didn’t really know him and you didn’t really know his game. Do you think your own alliance with Malcolm would have been any different if you’d had the chance to watch his full season beforehand?
Corinne: No, because the reason I aligned with him is that he didn’t have an ego. Everybody on the Favorites’ side all thought they were the stars of their season and they act that way. They’re all obnoxious. They’re difficult to deal with. They’re just impossibly annoying. It was very hard. Because Malcolm’s season hadn’t aired, he wouldn’t have that ego. That’s what was special about him and that’s why I knew when we got to the Fans when we got to the Merge, I was gonna align with whatever Fans were left, because to me, they were going to be playing with that naiveté and they would have that sweet, sincere excitement in the game which none of the Favorites had.
HitFix: And in terms of a polarizing figure and in terms of knocking you off of your game, how detrimental a figure did you feel like Phillip was in terms of keeping your head clear and doing what you wanted to do out there?
Corinne: I want to say, for the record, that Phillip is not the reason I went home. I’m the reason I went home. So let’s not give Phillip credit for that. And my decision to tell Dawn wasn’t a Phillip-related incidence. You know, I say this all the time, but being around Phillip is like, you know how if you drink too much and you do something stupid, you say, “Cuz I was drunk, I didn’t make good decision.” It’s like you’re drunk on the crazy. At a certain point, you can’t think straight, because you’re frazzled from Phillip’s crazy. So it’s almost like being intoxicated. So I surely made bad decisions throughout the game based on the fact that I had to be subjected to Phillip for so long, but really why I was voted out had nothing to do with him.
HitFix: That’s absolutely true. Are you at least relieved that your elimination wasn’t because of Phillip?
Corinne: Oh, it doesn’t matter! Haven’t you seen? When he loses a challenge, it’s because he threw it. Guarantee you next week he’ll be, “Oh, you go against The Specialist, that’s what happens.” I guarantee you that he takes total credit for this. And that’s the worst part: He buys the story he’s selling. In his mind, he goes to sleep every night thinking, “Awww, she went against me, I got rid of her.” That’s why he’s so insufferable.
HitFix: As a last question: The only things that we saw happen in the Favorites camp in the first half of the season were Brandon being crazy and Phillip being crazy. Is there anything else that you want to tell me was happening of note for those first 15 or 16 days?
Corinne: [Laughs.] That was a lot of it. But there was a ton of really good, fun, happy times and I guess that must just not make good viewing pleasure. At one point [after the swap], Dawn, myself and Michael found clams the size of your head. Even bigger! Like the size of a watermelon! We found like six of them and it was a huge feast. And even though we had lost that Reward Challenge with the coffee, we had clams, which was protein. It was awesome. It was the coolest thing that I’ve probably ever done on “Survivor.” And it didn’t air. We even made a dance, Michael and I made a little dance and we called it “Clammy Time” and we had a song and a dance to it. It was really special and… I dunno. They don’t show it.
HitFix: Anything else you wish we’d had the chance to see?
Corinne: I wish that you saw more of Michael and I wish you saw more of my interaction with him, because they reduced him to “My Gay.” And that’s not what he was. He was awesome. He’s funny and he’s witty and I’m sure he gave great confessionals. America doesn’t know why I love Michael so much. They just think I love him because he’s gay. And that’s not the case. If you want to be friendly with someone, Michael’s at the top of my list. He’s just awesome.