Colby Donaldson is one of the original “Survivor” good guys. He remains one of the show’s best-liked contestants, and he was a pretty natural choice for the Hero team in the upcoming “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.”
So what the heck was he doing showing up at the “Survivor” 10th anniversary party Saturday night (Jan. 9) in a black cowboy hat?
“I had to get comfortable tonight,” the 35-year-old Texan said with a smile. “My comfort zone is my black hat.”
“Heroes vs. Villains” will be Donaldson’s third time on “Survivor,” and he said he came back to the game in part because he was disappointed with his performance on “Survivor: All-Stars” in 2004. “When I did ‘All-Stars,’ [‘Survivor’ host and Donaldson’s friend Jeff Probst] really talked me into it. I didn’t want to go, I shouldn’t have gone, and the results spoke for themselves. I did horribly.”
This time, he says, “I wanted to go back and prove I could still compete with the young guys. The reality is, I’m not as young as I used to be. This was a brutal season, and it was hard on me physically to try to keep up with the younger cast.”
Donaldson gets that the “Heroes vs. Villains” name makes for a compelling setup, but once the 20 players — including his “Australian Outback” and “All-Stars” nemesis, Jerri Manthey — got to the location, labels pretty much got tossed aside.
“Regardless of what tribe you’re in, everybody’s playing for themselves and the million dollars,” he says. “… The heroes aren’t going to behave like heroes, and the villains are probably gonna do some pretty heroic things along the way. So all that gets mixed up. I think it was just a way to structure the teams.
“It didn’t mean anything to me. I don’t see myself as a hero really. Maybe I’m a good guy vs. a bad guy, just because I’ve tried to play the game with some integrity, but I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything heroic.”
Viewers can judge that for themselves, but Donaldson made at least one very smart move going into “Heroes vs. Villains”: He brought the Texas flag that served him so well in Australia with him again.
“It was kind of a throwback reunion of sorts, so I asked the producers if there was any way I could take my Texas flag again,” he says. “I took the exact same flag — I had it on the wall. … You may remember the first time, it seemed like just big ego stroke because I’m proud to be from Texas and all that. But the reality is that flag is 8 [feet] by 12 [feet], waterproof nylon, and I had metal grommets sewn around the perimeter so we could make a shelter out of it. And that’s exactly what we did. I waterproofed it again before I left, and it proved to be a pretty good sun and rain shelter immediately when we landed.”
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” premieres Thursday, Feb. 11 on CBS.
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