Jeff Probst on Russell: Survivor‘s Most Notorious Villain Ever?

Jeff Probst on Russell: Survivor‘s Most Notorious Villain Ever?
Monty Brinton/CBS (2)

updated 09/24/2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/24/2009 12:00AM

At the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night, Jeff Probst won his second Emmy in a row for outstanding reality host. PEOPLE caught up with Probst about his winning weekend and the growing buzz about Survivor: Samoa's Russell. --Cynthia Wang

How was your Emmy night?We got back last week. It's a bit of culture shock to go from the islands of Samoa, where literally are walking around with machetes, to Hollywood, where are walking around with Emmys, but it is good to be home.

How was it to win your second Emmy?It happened so fast! I had seen Alec Baldwin just go up there and be so present. He made a joke about Rob Lowe and I thought, "Man, that guy, he's not nervous" ... So that was what was going through my head when as I was walking up: "Don't be nervous, just enjoy this." But I must say, when I looked down at the audience, always say -- "Well, I saw Tina Fey, and I … " -- I didn't see anybody. It's all a bunch of dots thinking, "Please get off that stage. Hurry up!"

Any celebrity encounters?At the Evening Before party, Michael J. Fox came up and said, "I gotta tell ya, I'm a big Survivor fan," and I talked for 20 minutes with an icon! I couldn't believe it. And I saw him again at the Emmys and we had a really nice conversation and it's been the highlight. I think that and meeting my TV crush, Mary-Louise Parker, at the PEOPLE party. Those two bookend a pretty good night!



Now you are back and seeing react to Russell Hantz on Survivor: Samoa.I don't think there's any doubt he's going to go down as one of the most notorious villains we've had on Survivor, if not the most. I am curious what 's take on him will be. He came in from the first day going, "I am going to tear this game up." He was consistent.

Are there other surprises coming up with this season?It's a physical season. We have two medical evacuations. Some push themselves harder than their bodies can take, and our doctors are telling us that infections are spreading more now and these things are really happening. I remember James Clement got pulled for having an infection in his finger to which I said, "We are going to lose one of our stars?" And the doctor said, "He's going to lose his hand." They say they are not changing their protocol but the world is changing. In Samoa we had 115 degrees every day and a period where for a week it rained nonstop and they had no water. We had one of the scariest moments ever for me on one evacuation. I was really scared.

Survivor: Samoa airs tonight on CBS (8 p.m. EST).

Monty Brinton/CBS (2)

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