'Survivor' players say they meet before the game even starts, but they're banned from speaking to each other

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Kellee Kim laughing and Lauren-Ashley smiling on Survivor
Kellee Kim, Lauren-Ashley Beck, and Noura Salman on "Survivor: Island of the Idols." CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
  • "Survivor" players on TikTok said that competitors spend about a week together before filming.

  • They aren't allowed to talk to each other but it can be hard to avoid nonverbal communication.

  • "Survivor" season-41 players spent a couple of weeks with each other, which may impact the game.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

For players, "Survivor" begins earlier than you might think.

Although it seems like most of the competitors on the CBS series meet for the first time when the cameras start rolling, some former players have said that isn't the case.

According to former players, competitors fly to the season's location on the same plane

The series follows a group of castaways competing on a remote island but the journey to get to the filming location also involves some player interaction.

In a TikTok answering a question on behind-the-scenes facts about "Survivor," three-time player Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth said competitors fly to the filming location together but aren't allowed to talk to each other.

Although there are usually producers and other crew members seated between the future competitors to limit contact, he said "so much nonverbal communication happens."

"The game starts when you arrive at the airport," Lusth said. "As weird as that sounds, you pick up a lot of social cues from how people move through crowded spaces together."

They then spend time together before starting the game

Lusth said that players then spend five days to a week with each other while doing press and acclimating ahead of the game.

"Survivor: Island of the Idols" player Lauren-Ashley Beck, who has been sharing game secrets on TikTok, also confirmed this in a video detailing the lead-up to her season and said "it takes about a week for the game to start."

She explained that players spend the week talking to host Jeff Probst and executive producer Matt Van Wagenen about their game strategy. They also take physical-fitness and swim tests and meet with a therapist to make sure they're "mentally able to play the greatest game and craziest game ever played."

@laurenashleybeck

Answer to @thatblondedummy what happens before you play survivor? #cbssurvivortiktok #realitytv

♬ original sound - Lauren Ashley Beck

Although players are often around each other during that time, they're still not allowed to talk. Beck said she was even told to tone down her "animation" because it could give clues about her personality to other players.

"One of the producers came up to me and was like, 'Lauren, you're too animated, and people are going to know your personality right off the bat," she recalled. "... Basically, he told me to tone it down. He's like, 'Your facial expressions are a lot.'"

Competitors spent even more time together ahead of season 41 because of COVID-19 protocols

Probst previously told Entertainment Weekly it took a long time to plan how they would film this upcoming season, "Survivor: Fiji," during a pandemic. The process involved establishing COVID-19 protocols and quarantining crew members and players for at least 14 days.

"We worked with the Fiji government to create what was essentially a large bubble that consisted of several islands - including tribe camps, challenge locations, Tribal Council, and base camp," Probst said. "This extended bubble would be our home for the next many months."

In the same TikTok, Lusth said the fact that these season-41 players spent a couple of weeks together may impact gameplay.

"I think a lot of friendships may have formed nonverbally before the game even started, and it'll be interesting to see how that shakes out as the game progresses," he said.

"Survivor: Fiji," airs on CBS on September 22.

Representatives for "Survivor" didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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