Treasure Island with Bear Grylls: Interview with MarcoCategory: Press Pack Article
Why did you want to do Treasure Island?
In all honesty, I wanted to do it for the money, as soon as they said the money was going to be on the island, that caught my attention. I wasn’t bothered about the survival side of things because as someone who has just left the military, I was used to all that kind of stuff, it’s second nature to me, I always knew I could survive. So the money was a huge driving force behind me agreeing to do the show.
What is your military background?
I was in the marines for six and a half years and I didn't do any sort of combat tours or anything. I finished training in 2013 which was when the last deployment to Afghanistan was and since then we haven't had any conflicts, which is good, I guess. So I was doing various training exercises. We went to Mojave Desert in California, we spent a lot of time in the mountains of Scotland and in the hills of Wales in pretty bad conditions, the harshest environments they could throw us in.
So how come you decided to leave to military?
A few reasons, one was the fact that there was no active deployment. When you're a soldier you want be out on deployment and for the foreseeable future it doesn't look like there's going to be any of them. So there's that, and then the fact that my dad passed away in 2016 and that, for me, kind of made me revaluate a few things. So those two factors together just caused me to want to leave
Did the other islanders assume that as you’re ex-military that you would be in charge on the island?
Yeah, that’s why I told the production team that I didn't want to tell them I was in the marines simply because it would put pressure on me and it might intimidate them a bit. But as soon as I got off that boat and the reality kicked in of what was going on it kind of made sense for me to tell them my background because I have a set of skills that are useful in that environment. I also knew that telling them would make them trust me quicker, unless there was someone else who was ex-military, higher than the marines, it was definitely going to work in my favour. So I told them and the reaction was great.
Being ex-military as well what do you make of Bear?
Bear is probably one of the reasons I joined the marines. I don't know him personally so I can't offer my opinion on that but as a TV person he ticks all the right boxes and he does inspire you. He inspires you to want to get outside, inspires you to want to challenge yourself and put yourself in discomfort. All those things were the catalysts to why I ended up joining the marines.
Were you worried about anything before you flew out there?
Yeah, when I was flying out there I had no idea who I was going to be on the island with and all the time I was assuming there was going be other military people on there with me. Why would they put it all on me? I knew the island experience wouldn't be difficult, I was treating it as another training exercise, so in my head I was thinking straight away when I get on that island, I'm going off on my own and I'm just going to tackle it from start to finish. I was assuming there would be other like-minded individuals hungry for it in that way, who had the experience and a bit of knowledge to tackle it in the same manner. So I was up for the competition, I was expecting competition and I was expecting to have to really work for it so I was quite surprised to get there and be confronted with like a 75 year old woman and over average individuals.
Did that automatically change your mindset then?
A bit, yeah. I was going on that island thinking I was going to be a lone wolf, I'm just gonna do my thing, get in get out. But then as a young ex-marine, if I suddenly ran off on my own and leave all these people behind who clearly could use someone like me, it wouldn't look very good and that hit me straight away. That reality hit me and I had to change my game plan.
So you were dead set on getting the cash, how did that impact the others?
I think a lot of them assumed we would all be sharing the money and if I hadn't of been there it probably would have happened, which I think is just silly.
So you never thought about sharing it?
Absolutely not. I've come from a working class background, I've worked my ass off in the marines for the past 6 and half years and I wanted to go and get the money for myself. All I had in my head is what that money would do for me and my family. When I found out it was £100,000 this is life changing money. To have this opportunity to put some cash in the bank is a fantastic thing. The thought of sharing it on the island with people I didn't know baffled me. I don't understand why anyone wanted to do that.
How did you feel when you found the money, hid it and then people found out?
I didn't feel bad, I didn't feel guilty but on the other hand I didn't feel great either. I think from then on the fact that I was a royal marine sort of became more of a threat to them than a help. They thought I was there to help them at the start and then suddenly they quickly started to act like I was going to take all their money.
You teamed up with Ivar, what was it about him that made you join forces?
I remember when Ivar first spoke to me, we were smashing our way through the fruit trees and he started talking to me about the marines and that and he had some sort of affiliation with them. As soon as he said that, anyone who is affiliated with the marines or from a military family, I know they’re going be on my side. There's a lot of respect when it comes to that. Just that alone stood out for me, and the fact that I could tell he was a hard worker and he was strong minded and his age wasn’t going to stand in his way. He was still quite fit and active and I think he was drawn to me as much as I was drawn to him.
He opened up to you about his background and his sexuality…
Yeah, he did eventually. I remember that conversation, we were in the sea and he came out, I had no idea who he was but he opened up about it and I found it quite fascinating and strange at the same time, that I'm on this island with Lord Ivar Mountbatten and he's sharing all this stuff with me and it was really fascinating.
Did it change your opinion of him?
No, not at all. He was on that island just like the rest of us, he had no advantage over any of us, he was just one of the lucky few that got asked to go on and to me it didn't matter who he was, what he had done, what he was telling me was all cool and that but it didn't change anything. He was very humble about it, very modest. He told me a few stories about the royal family but it’s not my place to repeat them, they are his stories to tell, but they were interesting! His life is quite amazing compared to people like myself, it’s unreal. So just for him to talk about his life can come across as him sort of gloating so I get why he was careful who he told what.
How much weight you did you lose?
I think I lost just under two stone, which was quite a lot but when I look in the mirror I just looked extremely lean. Before I went on the island I got really fat, well tried to anyway, I tried to fatten up before I went on so a lot of the weight I lost was that. I Look back at the photos that I took when I got back into my hotel room and I'm clearly very skinny and deflated but I wasn't that bothered. I was looking forward to getting back in the gym and working out again.
How would you sum up the experience as a whole?
It's every child's' fantasy to be on an island that's full of treasure and when you put all the arguments aside, to actually be on an island, hunting down boxes of money, it is exciting, there's no other way of looking at it. It really felt like a real adventure.