Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - Aus­tralian Sur­vivor Sea­son 3 pre­mieres 7.30pm, Wed­nes­day Au­gust 1, on Net­work Ten.

e was an un­usual choice for the host of Net­work Ten’s re­boot of Aus­tralian Sur­vivor: a doc­tor-turned­dra­matic ac­tor who had made a life far from home; a fam­ily man who had no pre­sent­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. He was a risky choice, too: the show’s pre­vi­ous Aus­tralian in­car­na­tions on the Seven Net­work and Nine Net­work flagged un­der poor rat­ings, last­ing just one sea­son each.

Yet here we are, on the cusp of a third sea­son on Net­work Ten hosted by Jonathan Lapaglia, the re­vamped show’s suc­cess in part cred­ited to the 48-yearold’s steady hand – and mus­cled physique, his im­pres­sive bi­ceps hav­ing scored a fol­low­ing of their own on so­cial me­dia. Lapaglia takes time out from the gym floor to talk to Stel­lar from the Los An­ge­les home he shares with wife Ur­sula Brooks and daugh­ter Tilly. You be­came a US ci­ti­zen in Septem­ber 2016, ahead of an elec­tion that set off what many might say is a fraught time for the na­tion. Any re­grets? No, no re­grets. We talked about be­com­ing ci­ti­zens for a num­ber of years but we were just com­pla­cent and lazy, I guess. Lead­ing up to that elec­tion we just wanted to vote. I did my thing but it didn’t mat­ter any­way. For a long pe­riod there I was just ob­sessed with the news; it con­sumed my ev­ery day. I would wake up and read news ar­ti­cles and couldn’t be­lieve what was go­ing on with Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. And that con­tin­ues, but I guess like a lot of peo­ple I’ve be­come numb to it. I think in Cal­i­for­nia we are a bit in­su­lated be­cause it is al­most like its own coun­try. Like many peo­ple, I am con­cerned not only for the US but the en­tire world. It’s dis­con­cert­ing and I won­der how things are go­ing to play out. So es­cap­ing to a tiny is­land for Aus­tralian Sur­vivor must have been nice. It was. Cer­tainly when we first landed we were con­stantly check­ing in. But by the end, we were so busy that it took the back seat. It was nice not to be con­sumed by it 24/7. You hired a di­alect coach to re­gain your Aussie ac­cent when you starred in the 2011 ABC mini-se­ries The Slap. Have you lost any­thing else since mak­ing Amer­ica home? Ac­cess to uni­ver­sally good cof­fee. But it is get­ting bet­ter. I come back ev­ery year for work or the fam­ily, so I am in con­stant con­tact with Aus­tralia. Apart from the ac­cent, I don’t feel I’ve lost too much. You were struck down with a mos­quito-borne ill­ness while film­ing the pre­vi­ous cy­cle of Sur­vivor. Any dra­mas this time around? I got sick again with bad gas­tro; it was pretty gnarly. Most of the crew ended up get­ting it. But there are no days off. Just lots of make-up. Every­one is al­ways like, “That looks like it would be so much fun!” Yeah… it is. Un­til you get sick. You’ve said you’re a com­bi­na­tion of coach, psy­chol­o­gist and ref­eree in this job. How do you pre­pare for that? We sit down and have story meet­ings and come up with a list of ques­tions that might be use­ful. So we have an idea where we want to go, where it might go. But of course when you get into a tribal council, the con­tes­tants have their own ideas. I am try­ing to track 20 dif­fer­ent sto­ries of all the con­tes­tants, plus all the in­for­ma­tion that the pro­duc­ers would like to come out. It’s one of the trick­i­est things I’ve had to do. Give me a script

straight up any day! It’s way eas­ier. It’s in­tense, you re­ally need to be on your toes, to track ev­ery­thing and be on point. It is a weird dance, for sure. What has your role on Sur­vivor taught you about your real-life al­liances? I’ve come to re­alise that I am at the bot­tom of the al­liance with my fam­ily; they let me be­lieve all this time that I was in con­trol. I am wor­ried on a daily ba­sis that I am go­ing to get voted out. They are just keep­ing me around for the ex­tra vote; be­fore I know it my head is go­ing to be on the chop­ping block. You have a 13-year-old daugh­ter. What’s harder, get­ting to the end of Sur­vivor or par­ent­ing a teenage girl? I have to go with Sur­vivor, just be­cause I think I have an un­usual daugh­ter. We are very lucky. She is way smarter and more sensible than both her par­ents. I don’t know where she came from but she is in­cred­i­bly easy to par­ent. In fact, I think Sur­vivor is one of the most dif­fi­cult things in the world. I think that’s one of the rea­sons it has been so pop­u­lar over the years, be­cause there is no for­mula to win this thing. There is not one path, there are an in­fi­nite num­ber. That’s what makes it so fas­ci­nat­ing and maddening at the same time. Your arms al­ways seem to get Twit­ter in a frenzy. Was there pres­sure to up your game again? There is to­tal pres­sure to keep it up. The num­ber of bi­cep curls I had to do be­fore each chal­lenge was crazy. I was ac­tu­ally a lit­tle bit blind­sided when that first hap­pened. I thought there would be a lot of chat­ter about the show, but it was just all about my arms. As the youngest of three boys, are you the baby of the fam­ily, per­form­ing for at­ten­tion? Well, my brother [An­thony Lapaglia] is an ac­tor as well, so we don’t fit the mould. There was such a big gap be­tween us, eight years’ dif­fer­ence. I kind of grew up as an only child on many lev­els – it was just me and the Match­box cars and Lego.

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