Back in June last year, while the Survivor: Winners At War cast were battling it out on the islands of Fiji, I reached out to a selection of former Survivor players to get their thoughts and predictions on the returning castaways. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting those interviews here on Inside Survivor.
Today, we’re talking to Kelley Wentworth, who played with Jeremy Collins in both Survivor: San Juan Del Sur and Survivor: Cambodia. While allies in the early days of SJDS, Kelley wasn’t around long enough to form a real relationship with Jeremy. However, the pair returned two seasons later for a Second Chance, where they were both allies and enemies are various points of the game. Their most iconic moment together came at the final six Tribal Council, when both competitors played idols, causing a no-vote situation for the first time in Survivor history. Ultimately, Kelley would be voted out in fourth place, where she went on to vote for Jeremy as the unanimous winner of Survivor: Cambodia.
Inside Survivor reached out to Kelley to get her thoughts on Jeremy’s return to Survivor: Winners At War.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted in June 2019 while Survivor: Winners At War was still filming in Fiji.
1) Hey Kelley, thanks for doing this! You and Jeremy have played on two seasons together, what was your initial opinion of Jeremy during SJDS, and how did it change, if at all, through Cambodia?
I liked Jeremy the first time I met him, and he has always been fun to play with. He is insanely good at working with a variety of personality types and is the type of person you find yourself wanting to be around. Funny, smart, genuine, the list goes on. Despite being in different alliances (or should I say voting blocs) in Second Chance, I always respected Jeremy on both a personal and game level and will be cheering for him to go all the way in S40!
2) Jeremy famously used his “meat-shield” strategy in Cambodia to great success. Do you think he’ll use that same strategy this season? Is he in a position to do so? Who would be his shields?
If it worked for him once, it could work for him twice. I definitely think he’ll use some version of this strategy and is smart enough to make others think he’s doing it to benefit them. I think the term meat shield won’t just apply to the big guys this season, and with so many big names playing together, he has a lot of targets to place in front of himself. Sandra, Parvati, Tony, and Rob all come to mind, but there are a lot of amazing players to consider as larger threats in this particular season.
3) In the latter half of Cambodia, it seemed you were one of the only people advocating for voting out Jeremy. What did you see that others didn’t?
In a nutshell: He’s amazing! HA. But seriously, Jeremy is just one of those people you can’t help but like. Put a likeable person at the end who also won Immunities, played idols, built strong alliances, and played physically. Sounds like a winning strategy to me!
4) Before your famously savage idol play, there was a confessional from Jeremy where he said he didn’t believe you had an idol. Do you think Jeremy underestimated you? And is that perhaps a flaw in his game?
Well, I think everyone underestimated me. But hey, that’s to be expected based on my tragic performance in San Juan Del Sur. I don’t know if it’s a flaw, but I think he, along with everyone else, learned that you just never know what someone might be up to. You always have to remember that just because someone doesn’t appear to be threatening doesn’t mean they aren’t threatening. For Jeremy, I’m sure that was probably a real “fool me once” moment.
5) Jeremy won Cambodia with a unanimous vote. Is he the kind of player who can beat anyone in the end? Obviously, game dynamics can change things, but just looking at this cast now, is there anyone there you think could beat him the end, and why?
This question is too hard! Anyone could win this season, period. It just depends on what type of game you play and how you get to the end. Does Jeremy have an amazing shot based on how he plays the game? Yes, absolutely. Are there other people that can beat him? Of course!! These aren’t amateurs we’re talking about. You have a two-time winner, you have people who know how to find and play idols, you have subtle players and in your face players, and a freaking married couple. Anything can happen.
6) You’ve played with another winner on this cast, Natalie. How do Jeremy and Natalie compare as winners — not in terms of who is better, but more in terms of how they play the game and their strengths and weaknesses?
I only played with Natalie for a short time, so it’s hard for me to compare them as winners. Both are able to work with a variety of people, both have found idols. I think Natalie has an overall stronger personality, but she is hard-working, physically fit, and people really like her. Not trying to cop out of this question, but it really is just too hard for me to compare them based on my limited time playing with Nat.
7) On a similar topic, do you think Jeremy and Natalie, as former allies, will try working together this season? Would that be a smart move? Who else on this cast do you see Jeremy gravitating towards?
Jeremy and Natalie are friends outside of the game, and they may work together if they find it’s beneficial for them. I can see them trying to do it on the DL. Or they may completely flip it around and target one another to eliminate that connection from the game. I think they’ll initially work together and figure out a way to put the target on other people. As far as Jeremy working with others, he can spark a friendship with anyone. I think the natural fit will be the older, family-oriented cast members such as Kim, Tyson, Danni, etc.
8) On the flip-side, who on this cast poses the biggest threat to Jeremy? Is there anyone you see him butting heads with?
Shouldn’t this answer automatically be Sandra? She’s the two-timer winner! Seriously though, I don’t really see him butting heads with anyone… unless they are a Scorpio. We all know how that went last time around.
9) Before I let you go, what is new in the world of Kelley since returning from the Edge? Anything you want to say to the fans (or haters)?
As you know, I always have thoughts on that! Unfortunately, I’m too busy to feed the trolls today.
Thanks again to Kelley for taking part. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more Playing with Champions interviews.
Survivor: Winners At War premieres February 12, 2020, on CBS.