Michael Skupin has been known to Survivor
fans and reality TV fans alike for the last 11 years as the guy who fell into the fire, burned his hands, and had to be air-lifted out of his camp. Now, he's getting another shot at the million dollars and a chance to re-create his image as a competitor on Survivor: Philippines
which airs tonight.
"I had gotten calls over the last 11 or 12 years about doing it again... and somehow the trigger just never got pulled," Michael told The Hollywood Reporter
. "Until I actually put my toes in the sand, I wasn't sure I was actually going to play again.
Michael is one of three former players
who were evacuated from their seasons to participate on Survior: Philippines
. Joining him are Russell Swan, who was forced to leave Survivor: Samoa
after a near-lethal plunge in his heart-rate during a challenge, and Jonathan Penner, forced out of the game after he suffered a life-threatening infection in a wounded knee that removed him from Survivor: Micronesia
"I didn't worry that the game had evolved past me from a twist standpoint," Michael said about getting reacquainted with the mentality that is so unique to Survivor
. "I worried if it had evolved past me from the perspective of, it took me a week to form my tight alliance out there [the first time]. They form alliances before you say hello today. It's, 'Do you want to form an alliance, and by the way, what's your name?' You gotta make a selection pretty quickly, and if you don't, you're gone."
Michael also offered a little insight on what fans of the show can expect for the new season.
"They brought the suffering back," he said. "Weather is a gigantic factor. Those viewers that say, 'They don't suffer as much... they never complain about food...' If suffering equals viewership, the viewers are going to be very pleased because it's game on in a way that I haven't seen even back in my season."
As for suffering, that's a topic that Michael has a lot of unfortunate experience with. After he was air-lifted out of the Outback, what viewers didn't see was that he spent 10 days in intensive care unit and spent a year in treatment and therapy before his hands could fully heal from his burns.
"And, fortunately, with the power of prayer, I got my hands back, and I'm grateful for that."
Catch Michael on the season premiere Survivor: Philippines
tonight on CBS. Gina PusateriContributing Writer(Image courtesy of CBS)