The fifth season of Survivor Australia is already off to a stellar start – and the show's host Jonathan LaPaglia thinks it might just be the best yet, thanks to the champions and contenders theme.
"It's David versus Goliath and everyone wants the underdog to win," the 48-year-old tells OK! in an exclusive interview from his home in Los Angeles.
However, Jonathan admits he was a little surprised that some of the contestants didn't know how to start a fire.
"That's the first thing I would [learn]," he jokes. "I would nail that skill."
Here, the actor and host opens up about family, fitness, and how he'd fair if he were left to fend for himself in Fiji's wilderness…
Do you ever think of the contestants when you're tucked up in your hotel room with air con and a hot meal?
Jonathan: Not at all! I just roll over, pat my pillow and go to sleep [Laughs].
No no, of course I do. Especially at about two or three in the morning when I get woken up by torrential rain. When it rains in these locations, it can be pretty gnarly. It's so loud and it comes in sideways. Certainly in the morning when I see them for the challenge, you can see it in their faces.
Be honest… do you reckon you could give the contestants a run for their money?
Jonathan: I think I'd be pretty terrible. My social game wouldn't be very good!
But your physical game would be – you're a pretty fit guy!
Jonathan: I'd like to think so, but that's only one element of the game. And it's certainly not a prerequisite to win.
In fact, it can become a hindrance.
Often if you're good at challenges, you become an obvious target early on and an obvious threat. It's difficult for people who are good at challenges to make it through until the end.
How do you maintain your fitness while you're filming in Fiji?
Jonathan: It's not easy.
The schedule is pretty brutal. We're working from early in the morning to late at night every day.
It never stops, so that's tough. And also, just the infrastructure where we shoot is not great. I'm also a runner, but running over there is difficult. There's one road that runs along the coast, but it's a very narrow road and drivers aren't great.
And the food is very limited, too.
Have you ever done any of the challenges yourself?
Jonathan: Yeah, I test them out. We rehearse the challenges before we do them. So I often get out there and try them. It's very cool.
What's the best part of your job?
Jonathan: Getting to know the contestants over the course of the season.
The only time I have contact with them is at challenges and at tribal council, so I love the social experiment of the game. It's kind of cool watching them and seeing how their story pieces together.
And the worst part?
Jonathan: Being away from my family.
They don't go with you?
Jonathan: No. My daughter is in school here in the US, so they don't finish until mid-June.
They did come out for the last five days of filming, but I'm so busy anyway, so I can't spend too much time with them.
Watch Survivor Australia Monday-Thursday, 7.30pm on Channel 10
For more reality TV exclusives, include a revealing chat with Grant Crapp and Lucy Cartwright, pick up a copy of this week's OK! magazine.
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