Interview: Trish Hegarty talks ‘Survivor: Cagayan’

There are many reasons to like Trish Hegarty's “Survivor: Cagayan” game. 

In short order, she was a key to blindsiding widely admired NBA veteran Cliff Robinson. Then she was part of a post-Tribal Council fight that led Lindsey to drop out, further shifting the balance of power.

Soon after, with the numbers looking bad post-Merge, Trish was a conduit to convincing Kass to betray her fellow brains and turn on Queen-for-a-Moment Sarah.

One could argue rather easily that those were the season's pivotal moves.

Despite that, the Boston-area pilates instructor hasn't always been embraced by viewers this season, lingering behind alliance-mate Tony in discussions of likely winners. It hasn't helped that vocal fights with Lindsey and, this week, with Kass were edited as “No winners here” brawls in which both sides looked less-than-ideal.

In the season's latest blindside, Trish went from powerful to snuffed after Kass and Woo reunited with Spencer to strike a blow against Tony's power. Then, in an unexpected twist, Tony also wrote Trish's name down.

In her exit interview, Trish discusses her big moves, her big fights and her big surprise at Tony's vote.

Click through for the full Q&A…

HitFix: Before last night's show had you known that Tony wrote your name down?

Trish Hegarty: I found out when I got back to Ponderosa.

HitFix: What did you make of that fact?

Trish: I was bummed. I was so devastated, because him and I were obviously partners in crime out there. I thought that everybody else wrote my name, but I was like, “Tony would never have written my name down.” But he did.

HitFix: Do you see the strategic value in what he was doing?

Trish: I know exactly why he did it. There's a couple different reasons he did it. First of all, I'm sure he wanted to show that he was on the same team as all the other ones so he wouldn't stand out. And the second thing is that he knows that I'm a woman of honor and he thought that I would be really angry if I knew he wanted to get me off, but he didn't have the balls down, so he was afraid that I wouldn't respect him, so that's why he put my name down. I said, “Why did you put my name down? I thought you would never put my down.” He said, “Because I knew you'd be upset, cuz you'd think I was being fake if I wanted you out and then I didn't write your name down it wouldn't be honorable.” He thought that I would see it as that way, which I thought was kinda interesting.

HitFix: OK. How strenuously did you request or demand that Tony give you an Idol before that Tribal Council? I think a lot of people are wondering why you didn't get one of his two Idols?

Trish: Because he wouldn't have given it to me anyways, because he was planning on voting me out.

HitFix: But did you specifically ask or not?

Trish: He told me that if I needed it, he would use it for me.

HitFix: I guess that means you really had no clue that the votes were going against you?

Trish: I had no clue, because the only way that that would have happened is if Woo had changed his mind and I just didn't think that Woo had it in him, to be honest with you. I didn't think that Woo had enough [Long pause] whatever the word you'd use to go out and think for himself. You know? I just didn't think he would do that, so I really didn't think that that was gonna happen, no. Totally blindside.

HitFix: So does that mean that you came away from the vote respecting Woo more, I guess?

Trish: Not really. No. I really like Woo. Woo's a really nice guy, but I never trusted him. I always thought he's a bit of a weasel. He had done some things at the beginning of the game that led him to be very untrustworthy that they didn't show on camera. Then when he went on the Cliff and Lindsey alliance, I was very wary of him. So I was always wary of Woo, even though I really liked him as person.

HitFix: Why would you have felt like Woo was untrustworthy, but you still found Tony to be trustworthy?

Trish: Because Woo… There are certain things that I really just can't talk about that would give you an example, but I can't because it's behind-the-scenes and I'm not allowed to, but there were things that happened that I can't discuss that led me to believe that he was very untrustworthy.

HitFix: So are you saying that the Nice Guy Woo we've been seeing on TV has just been an edit?

Trish: Ummm… I think he's a very nice guy. I don't think it's just an edit. I think he's a really nice guy, but I think he's capable of being a weasel.

HitFix: Having seen Tony throughout this season on TV, having seen the things that you didn't necessarily know about while you were out there, have you had any sort of retroactive regret about the amount of trust you put in him?

Trish: It's kinda complicated, because coming from your position when you're watching it, everybody comes from their own perspective or perception or whatever, but you have to understand that I was out there playing a game and I started that game with Tony. Tony told me he had the two Idols. Tony said he was gonna use one for me. And I think Tony was on my side all the way to the end and then Woo convinced him that he could not beat me in the end and that's why Tony changed his mind. But up until then, when it came to me I felt like Tony was pretty trustworthy. Yes, he didn't tell me about LJ and he didn't tell me about Jefra, but he didn't tell me because he knew I wouldn't go with him.

HitFix: But if he had told you and you wouldn't have gone with it, how do you think things might have progressed differently?

Trish: It's hard to say what would have happened. If he had told me, I probably would have gone to LJ and told him, I would have been honest with LJ and then LJ would have had time to regroup himself. I was all about the alliance. I was all about keeping the alliance intact till the end.

HitFix: Looking back on things, how much responsibility did you feel for getting Kass to flip after the Merge? That huge move? And how quickly and how much were you regretting that by the end?

Trish: Oh! That's a fabulous question. I really wanted to play the game with Sarah, because Sarah and I were friends and I really liked Sarah and I thought Sarah had a great personality and she was so easy to be around. So I really wanted to keep Sarah, but I knew that Sarah had gone to the other side, because Tony had had a conversation with her and he came back and he's like, “Sarah's gonna vote one of us out. She's lying.” So I had no choice. I'd seen that Kass and Sarah had had a fight, so when I went up to Kass, I just said, “We're gonna vote out Sarah,” because I knew that that's who she wanted to go out. Kass was such an easy read, because she played the game the whole time with her emotions. She never had any gameplay, it was all just emotionally based. I could sit here and say, “Oh, it's all my credit” or whatever, but I offered her the package and she took it. So you could say that I did it all, you could say that she did it all. She'd tell you that she did it all. Whatever. I guess it doesn't really matter now, you know?

HitFix: And the second part of the question? How quickly did you start regretting having to be in an alliance with Kass?

Trish: The second she came. The only reason why I did not lose it on Kass any time before Day 36 is because Tony begged me to be nice to her. He's like, “She's a loose cannon. You're the people person out here. You have got to keep her with us.” So it was sorta my job to stick with Kass and make sure that I was caressing her ego and telling her how great of a game she was playing and how awesome she was. I hated it. It was against everything I wanted to do, because I didn't feel any of those things. I was just doing it because she was such a loose cannon. I was just keeping her close to us, because I was afraid she was gonna flip to the other side or do anything unpredictable. She was so unpredictable.

HitFix: Talk a bit about that blowup at camp on Day 36. What pushed you over the edge? What was the last straw, as Tony would say?

Trish: I woke up that morning and I heard her saying really lousy things about me like, “She's just useless… She's this… She's that… But everybody likes her. You'll never beat her in the Finals.” I just sat there listening to the whole thing and never said a word and all day long I just stewed and stewed and stewed. Then I just snapped. [She laughs.]

HitFix: What did you think as you watched the episode and saw yourself snapping?

Trish: You know, I'm Irish and I'm from Boston and that wasn't that bad of a snap, actually. [She laughs.] I thought it worked out pretty well.

HitFix: Talk a bit about that. In your last interview, you suggested you were maybe too nice to play “Survivor,” but talk about the moments where maybe you weren't so nice, with Kass there, with Lindsey after the Cliff vote… Why were those the right times to not be nice?

Trish: Everybody has their own opinion of whether I was nice or not nice and honestly, I don't even care. But the thing about it is that that didn't come down to being nice or not nice. Lindsey was really rotten to me and made my first two weeks terrible, when I got back on top and she was on the bottom, I let her know where she stood and she didn't like that and she was intimidated by the fact that I was standing up to her, even though I'm a 90-pound bully, apparently she was afraid of me because I wasn't afraid of her and I think she's not comfortable with that. So was I not nice? I mean… I don't know. Was I defending myself? Was I putting myself in the game and sorta putting myself where I needed to be? I look at it more like that. It wasn't a case of being nice or not nice. I am a really nice person, but just like anybody, if you put irritating people around you when you're starving and you're thirsty and you're missing your kids? Nine times out of 10, you're gonna snap, you know?

HitFix: But you pushed her and she quit. Did you sense that sort of vulnerability?

Trish: That's what you saw in the edit. That fight was a lot longer than they showed.

HitFix: Then give me your side of it. Whether there are things you can say or not say, give me your side of what happened there. 

Trish: My side of it is that Cliff and Lindsey didn't speak to me for two weeks. They treated me terribly, just terrible. And I was fine with it, because I had no respect or rapport with them either. Lindsey and Cliff thought that they had the whole game to themselves, but they were their only alliance, so when Cliff got blindsided, I explained to Lindsey very clearly and specifically what her future game was gonna look like without Cliff. And I don't think she liked that and I don't think she could handle it. I think she knew she was gonna go next. She was at the bottom of the alliance. But she had been talking about quitting the whole time.

HitFix: So then it was kinda a foreseeable possibility that that was gonna happen?

Trish: I didn't go after her when we got back from Tribal Council to start a fight. What I was going to say before she interrupted me, what I was going to say was, “Listen, I know you don't like me and I don't like you, but we're still on the same team, so can we…” But she interrupted and said, “Don't even start with me!” And she didn't let me finish and then she went into it and I followed right in the path, so I think we were both guilty. I didn't go after her. I didn't say, “I hate your tattoos. I think you're disgusting that you're farting and burping.” I didn't say any of those things. I simply stated her game. She went after, “I hate your mouth. I hate your face. I hate your teeth. I hate your smile.” She went right back to the sandbox and circle time and went after my physical attributes, which is really not cool, as a mother. You know? I don't have any respect for that. And Kass did the same thing. I'm a good fighter, so when I stood up… What could they do? They both went after my physical characteristics, as opposed to going after what they should have gone after. Know what I mean? Arguing. That was the only argument towards me, “Well I hate your face. You're so skinny.” That has nothing to do with anything.

HitFix: Talk about where the line is there. On last night's show, you called yourself Malnutrisha after Tony called you Anorexia. Kass called you Skeletor. Jeff Probst called you “skeletal” at some point. Where is the line in your mind between where it's fair or funny to discuss it and when it isn't?

Trish: OK, well first of all the nickname “Malnutrisha” came from my brothers when I was a kid and I told them all that, that my brothers nicknamed me Malnutrisha. So that's a nickname that I've had since I was three or four years old, because I've always been small. I was on “Survivor.” I wasn't on “The Biggest Loser.” So obviously, you go in the game and you don't eat for 36 days, you're gonna get skinny. I don't understand why everybody's so confused by that. It wasn't like I'd had all of these opportunities to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and then all of a sudden I'm so skinny. I clearly didn't eat for 36 days. I'm confused why people are confused by that.

HitFix: That part makes total sense to me. I was just wondering about when the jokes are OK and when they're not.

Trish: I made half the jokes about myself, so all of the jokes are fine. I feel like I'm on “Survivor.” People are like, “You got so thin.” No s***. I was on “Survivor.” [She laughs.]

HitFix: You talked about how Woo convinced Tony that you would have beaten him and that Kass was convinced that you were gonna get votes from the Jury. Looking at the last five people, who do you think you would have beaten in a Final 5 situation? And who do you think would have beaten you?

Trish: I wouldn't have held a candle against Spencer. I probably had a pretty good chance of beating Woo, just because I had more interpersonal relationships. He didn't really talk to anybody outside me and Tony on the island, so nobody really knew him and he didn't really pull any big moves in the game, so I think I could have convinced the Jury that I had done more in the game than he had. I had a speech ready for the Jury, whoever I made it against, to convince them that I had played the game even though they didn't see that I had, because I knew that they hadn't seen that I had made some big moves. I think, from my opinion, anybody who sits next to Kass wins the million dollars, no problem. From my opinion, nobody in that Jury would give her a nickel or an ant farm. So anybody who goes with Kass wins and I think that any of those last four people know that. So everybody wants to go to the end with Kass, including me. I wanted to go to the end with her, too. I wanted to go to the end with her and Tony and my whole theory with Tony was that Tony had clearly played a harder and better game than me, but he also had angered everybody. He had screwed everybody and I hadn't. The Jury looked very disgruntled to me. They were giving him dirty looks every time he said something. They were rolling their eyes. So I thought, “If I go with Tony, I could potentially win just by not having screwed anybody, not having any blood on my hands.”

More “Survivor: Cagayan” exit interviews:
Tasha Fox
Jefra Bland
Jeremiah Wood
L.J. McKanas
Morgan McLeod
Sarah Lacina
Alexis Maxwell
Lindsey Ogle
Cliff Robinson
J'Tia Taylor
Brice Johnston
Garrett Adelstein
David Samson