Earlier this morning, I spoke with Craig, the first male participant "banished" from the FOX show Forever Eden. Although he wasn't on the show very long, Craig did make an impression on many viewers. Craig's easy-going, laid-back attitude definitely came through in our interview, and it was a pleasure to talk to him. Here's what he had to say:
How did you first hear about Forever Eden?
You know, I actually heard about the show at another big…I had gotten another audition and met someone there who called me a few weeks later for it.
Do you watch a lot of reality television?
To be honest with you, I don't. I don't watch a lot of TV at all, actually. For about the last 9 years, I was a military officer, and I was extremely, extremely busy. I just didn't have a lot of time for it.
What was it about this show that made you want to try out?
You know, it sounded like a damn good time (*laughter*). It sounded like a lot of fun, and, I mean…when you talk about sun and sand a beach and all that kind of stuff, it just sounded like my natural habitat.
Once you got to Eden and the show got underway, was it what you expected?
Well, really, the whole thing was shrouded in this veil of secrecy. So, we really didn't know…we really didn't know what we were getting into. It wasn't exactly…of course, you've got some expectations, but, to answer the question directly, it wasn't exactly what I expected. The crew was great to work with, and the guys…I really bonded quickly with the guys, and that I didn't expect.
What was your "strategy" going in? Did you see yourself as filling a certain "role" on the show?
You know, as much of a strategizer as I think I am, I figured the best way to go about this was to just have a good time, take it day by day, and see what happens. I figured I was cast for a certain role, but it could have been any number of things, the way I saw it going.
You were the only one to come on the show with a significant other back home, yet you didn't seem too concerned about it. Did you have any reservations about doing the show given that you had a girlfriend?
Well, um…the fact of the matter is that I knew I was putting the relationship on the line in doing the show, but at the point I'm at in my life, it's about my career first. It was about exposure, and it's a great opportunity…and it's something I just could not pass up.
Are you and your girlfriend still together?
Um…you know, let's go ahead and skip over that one (*laughter*)
You went to Mary's room to comfort her at one point, and you even told her at one point that she was "stand-out hot". However, you voted for her as Least Desirable. Why?
Well, the fact is that…well, in my view, Mary is a stunning, stunning woman. She is very easy on the eyes and great to look at. The reason we voted her Least Desirable was…we came to a consensus as a group, and it had nothing to do with her physical appearance. We weren't gonna do something that shallow right off the bat, you know. What we were basing our decision on was interaction with the group, and…we didn't know we were voting her off. We just knew she would be pegged, and there was no way of knowing at that point whether the apple was going to be good or bad. So, we figured the best thing to do…well, she was kinda withdrawn from the group. She was just playing it cool and taking it easy, and since she wasn't really integrating with the rest of the guests, we thought that giving her the apple would give us more insight into who she was as a person.
So, it was a group decision?
Yeah, it was a group decision. We conferenced on it…I can't tell you how many times. It was kinda split at the beginning, and I came to her defense, you know, immediately, because I figured she was probably getting a bad rap. I mean, when you have a girl that looks like that, you automatically assume that she's going to be a bitch, you know? And I kinda get that rap, myself. I mean, as much as I work out and all that, people assume that I'm conceited and that all I think about is myself.
Even after your vote for Mary was revealed, you seemed pretty confident that Mary would not choose to banish you and that you would be staying in Eden. So, were you surprised when Mary chose you?
(*laughter*) Well, after lunch that day, I knew. I knew that it was going to be me, because I was getting a feeling…you know, I was catching that vibe from her. I'm really kinda in tune with that thing, you know, and I had a feeling I was gonna get it, but what really, really surprised me was when they gave her the option to banish or spare and she chose banish. That was shocking. I actually looked back and gave the guys a wink like, "I think we're gonna be OK here". But, then…wow. That was the big surprise. Had I not had a slight buzz going, I might have fallen over (*laughter*).
So, if you could go back and change your vote for Mary, would you?
You know, it's hard to say. I mean, based on the information…well, now I'd say I probably would (*laughter*). But, with the information we had at the time…and, you know, my original vote was for Neveen. I don't really recall how much was really revealed about her, but she's…you know, she's pretty vulgar, and that's really not my style. I'm not judging her; that's just not what I like. But, I thought if we voted for her that it would be very detrimental to her psychologically and that she'd take it very hard. So, if I had it to do all over again, all things considered, I'd probably do the same thing, but I would explain myself a little bit better to Mary to make she knew where I was coming from.
Now, as you know, Mary said some things on the show that could be taken the wrong way. Do you have an opinion on Mary's comments?
You know, I've actually gotten to know Mary a lot better since the taping, and she's definitely not a racist. I mean, you know, she grew up in a sheltered environment, and she just hasn't been exposed to a lot. In my personal opinion, even if I thought that, I wouldn't have said it, but that's just me. The way I look at it is…everybody goes through their life, and occasionally they put their foot in their mouth and they say something that they probably wish they wouldn't have said and they're like, "Man, I'm glad nobody else heard that." But, for us, that wasn't the case. I mean, I felt it was inappropriate to say, but who hasn't said something inappropriate in the past, you know?
Which of the guys and which of the women were the hardest to get to know?
Well, I think Mary was the hardest to get to know, because she wasn't putting herself out there. I mean, she was in an assessment role. I think it made her appear unapproachable, which is why I went to talk to her that night. For the guys…I gotta be honest with you…all of the guys were really easy to get to know and really friendly. So, I don't think I could pick a guy that didn't seem friendly or seemed hard to get to know. I really had a good relationship with all the guys.
I'm gonna throw out some things, and I just want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind, OK? Let's start with Neveen.
(*laughter*) You bastard. (*laughter*) You know, the first thing that comes to mind about Neveen is inappropriate dinnertime discussions and behavior.
The way I see it, Brooke is going to go a long way with this. I don't want to say she's a puppeteer, because she's not manipulating anything. But, what she's doing is she's sitting back and letting all the drama happen around her. She's laying low…she's kinda flying below the radar.
You know, I really like Shawna. She's a really nice girl. I have nothing bad to say about her at all.
Again, a really nice girl. I think a little bit more prone to drama, maybe.
You know, she's outspoken, which I don't think is a bad thing. But, I think at times she's a little too outspoken, which I think will cause her problems.
OK, now the guys. What about Jordan?
Jordan…what can I say about Jordan? Um…he's very entertaining.
Very genuine. Very sincere. A very nice guy.
Again, very genuine and sincere and a very nice guy. You know, Michael and David were the two I had the closest bond with. I really felt like, no matter what happened, I was gonna see those two later.
Matt is a very animated guy.
You were only on the show for a short time, but do you think you were portrayed accurately? In general, do you think they portrayed everyone pretty accurately?
No, not at all. The reason I say that is…well, what most people think of me versus what I think of myself…I'm an educated, articulate person, and I think I was set up to fill that…kind of a "meathead" role, you know? I mean, I guess the common perception is that if you have muscles, you automatically don't have brains. But, I knew that going into it. That's what I signed up for, and…it's a TV show.
Do you think you'll keep in contact with these guys when this is all over?
Oh, most definitely. Most definitely.
Finally, Craig, knowing what you know now, would you do it again if you had the chance?
Hell, yes. In a second. It was a lot of fun.
Well, Craig, that's all I got, and it looks like we're about out of time, anyway. Thanks so much for the time, and please, if you get a chance, stop by our website and say hello.
Yeah, I will definitely do that. Thanks!
My thanks to Craig for taking the time to talk to me and to the people at FOX for setting up the interview.