Brandon Hantz had the most explosive exit in Survivor history on Wednesday night’s episode.
It all started when Hantz — a "favorite" and the nephew of notorious player Russell Hantz — became increasingly irritated with tribemate Phillip Sheppard. After a series of arguments, things took a turn for the worse at the immunity challenge, where the favorites revealed they wanted to forfeit simply so they could vote Hantz out.
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From there, things went further downhill quickly. Hantz exploded and turned hostile and appeared on the verge of starting a physical fight, with Probst attempting to both calm and restrain him at various points — even going so far as massaging his shoulders. He called Sheppard names; mocked him, his age and his "Stealth R Us" nicknames for the tribe; and used language that had to be bleeped on multiple occasions. He also repeatedly insisted that he was the own "author" of his fate on the island, not Sheppard nor anyone else.
In a rare move, Probst ultimately decided to have tribal council right then and there, with the tribe giving their votes verbally — and in front of the fans. Hantz was voted out unanimously, with the exception of his own vote, which went to Sheppard.
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On Thursday, the 21-year-old from Katy, Texas, talked to The Hollywood Reporter about whether he has any regrets, what his uncle Russell told him after watching the episode and what he really thinks about Sheppard.
The Hollywood Reporter: Did you watch last night’s episode?
Brandon Hantz: Yeah, me and Russell and [others]. It was a big party. I love it. It was awesome. I feel like a man, not a little boy, anymore.
THR: The last time you played, Russell said on the live finale that you "did everything wrong." What did he say to you last night?
Hantz: He’s never been prouder of me. He actually said that to me. He wants me to compete against him on Survivor. I’ve always wanted to have his acceptance. He’s such a big deal for Survivor; it’s cool to have his respect. He’s like Boston Rob and Richard Hatch, who I respect. It’s cool to have a great on my side, especially when it’s family.
THR: You were clearly frustrated with Phillip. Was there anything that viewers didn’t see that led up to the final argument?
Hantz: I never really responded to him. I never disrespected him. The only time I did was the incident where I was upset with him already, and I said, "I can’t handle this anymore." But it was so well-edited, and you saw really most of it. He was just disrespectful. I’m not a dog, I’m not his puppy, I’m not his child. You don’t have to disrespect me by giving me a name. Even though it was complete crap, and I played along with it, I just tried my best to respect him as a Survivor. Why was it acceptable for him to disrespect other people? The one time I yelled back at him, it made him look childish. He told me to grow up; I told him to shut up. Everything out of his mouth was incoherent BS. He’s so preconceived and scripted. I don’t know if he’s like that in real life, but I’m not sure how it’s possible to get that far in life. He seems really fake. And he started the whole street-fight thing. He got aggressive and said, "Look, man, I’m a special agent, and I’ve jumped down prey" and this and that. He did the first physical confrontation. Some of the things he said about my family and children was unnecessary. I never said anything about his personal life; everything was about Survivor. But today, all is well and forgiven. I hope he can forgive me for getting so upset. But I forgive Phillip for the way he treated me on Survivor, disrespectful and conniving. Sometimes I went a little far, and sometimes he did.
THR: Do you regret anything that happened, or not making it further in the game?
Hantz: I really, really like my edit, man. I looked like such a crybaby the last time. It’s like I’m such a different person. [Viewers] got to see both sides of Brandon, good and bad. I’m the first Survivor to ever turn from hero to max-hero. I’m the biggest hero to ever play Survivor. I’m a realist, and that’s what it is. Nobody ever went to those extremes. I legitimately made history on Survivor, and I’d like to continue that legacy and compete against my uncle. I want to show him, hey, little Hantz ain’t that little anymore. I think yesterday he got a little intimidated.
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THR: Has Russell expressed an interest in playing again, either with or against you?
Hantz: Yeah, he is going to make that known today on the aftershow [on CBS.com, hosted by past Survivor winner Parvati Shallow]. I’m excited and pushing it because I want to do it. It’s been a year since I was in a bad place in my life [the show was filmed in May and June of last year]. My wife and I are back together, our family is growing, everything’s going well.
THR: Will you talk to Phillip at the finale?
Hantz: I’ll be as cordial as I am talking to you. I have no problem with Phillip. I want him to know as a Survivor, I think the worst about Phillip, but as a person, I’m always looking for the best in people. He is different than me, but I can respect that. And I like everyone to be my friend; I want all Survivors to be my friends, but that’s just not going to happen. I do want Phillip and me to say we made the show, man. Honestly, what else has happened so far? Normally the strongest friends come out of the first, so we could be friends after this. I made a lot of friends and enemies on Survivor, but I want us to be one big happy family because only we know how it feels to play the game.
Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.