Smart, athletic, and easy on the eyes: that describes two-time "Survivor" competitor Malcolm Freberg. I chatted with the "Survivor Philippines" and "Survivor Caramoan" contestant and fan favorite in advance of CBS's "Survivor Cagayan," which premieres Wednesday, February 26, at 8 (7 central), about his most difficult experience on the series, what he learned, and which apps could have helped him win.
Why did you decide to try out for "Survivor"?
I only went because I was a super fan of the show. I just happened to become popular with it, and I'm just running with it now.
What was the single most difficult moment that you experienced on the islands?
We were caught in a rainstorm, and when you're sleeping under leaves, huddled inside potato sacks for warmth with one other girl, it was absolutely atrocious. We woke up in the morning. Our bodies were like prunes, and we were cold and couldn't get a fire going. It was the only time where, after two months of doing it, I was like, "Yeah, I want to go home. Get me out of here."
Would you do it again?
It went pretty well the two times I did it, and it wasn't absolutely miserable, but it's hard on your body. I lost a lot of weight. You step out of the real world for almost two months each time you do it. But yeah, I'd do it again.
Were you hoping that "Survivor" would lead to an acting career?
Oh no, absolutely not. After the first season aired, CBS asked me to do "The Bold and the Beautiful," much to my apparent shame. I have no idea how to act. I'm not good at it at all. I only did a couple more because CBS asked nicely.
What are your aspirations?
I just finished a book. It's about the year I spent as an elementary school teacher in the Marshall Islands. That was my summer project after "Survivor" wrapped. I can't go into too many specifics, but there are a couple of projects around travel-hosting shows. But keep your eyes peeled.
Could you describe what the experience was like of being out of touch with the world over the course of shooting the shows?
You have no connection to the outside world. When you sign up to go out, they have paperwork where you write the only instances that they're allowed to pull you out of the game for, like if someone dies in your family. So the only thing they would have told me is if my mom, dad, or little brother died. We missed everything. We missed March Madness. I had an aunt go through health problems and had no idea till I got back.
If you had had access to a smartphone, what are some of the apps that you might have used to further your chances of winning?
The one thing that drives you crazy out there, which most people don't realize, is that there's no music. But we can't even sing songs from the radio from before we left. That "Call Me Maybe" song was really big before my second season, so we were all singing it under our breath, but you can't because of copyright laws. So there is a real lockdown on music. Pandora or Spotify would be absolutely what I'd pick, because it would keep the stir-crazy and island fever in me down.
Would any apps have helped you win the game?
Well, Flashlight would have been nice, because when it gets dark there is no artificial light, just a fire, so we're up at sunrise and down at sunset. There was a time when I really wanted to find a hidden immunity idol. It was the middle of the night, so I really wanted to bring a torch with me. But a flashlight app would have really helped me out right before being sent home in the second season.
Now that you're back at home, what are some of the apps that you find yourself using most?
Other than my Twitter, I finally downloaded Spotify, and that's my new obsession. Before Spotify, I have a motorcycle and I drive around with one headphone in, and Pandora was always easy, because I could just cruise around listening to whichever radio station. Other than that, GrubHub is one of my absolute favorites. It's the easiest thing in the world when you don't want to move. I just click on a past order and it saves all my favorites.
Domino's Pizza USA is the greatest programming achievement of the 21st century. I just like watching the little lights light up, and they're oddly specific about what's going on with your meal, like Juan is placing the pepperonis on your pizza. I really get a kick out of watching that process. I think I know what I'm going to do for lunch when we're off the phone.
You say in your "Survivor" bio that you're cocky. Where does that cockiness come from?
People ask me all the time where that comes from, but I'd prefer to edit it ex post facto into "comfortably self-assured." Everything works better if you have confidence in yourself. I don't know where it comes from. It's not pixie dust or anything like that. There's probably just something wrong inside my head. It's certainly not justifiable.
Were you edited fairly on the show?
Yeah, that was me. I went into it thinking I was going to be a villain, because I was going to play it very hard and cut everybody's throats and be an asshole and go behind people's backs. But you can't fake it. Your true side is going to come out when everything is stripped away and you're laid barren from the stresses of no eating and pressures of a situation. So yeah, I make "Harry Potter" references and can't take host Jeff Probst seriously, which he hates. Undermining the pressure of it all is pretty standard for daily life for me.
What did you learn on the show that you've since applied to your daily life?
I think that you're going to be much more successful in life if you just be yourself. Be true to yourself, embrace your own nature, and just run with it.