While season 32 of Survivor ended in the US this week, the latest incarnation of Australian Survivor has just started production with veteran actor Jonathan LaPaglia as the new host.
"I've never done anything like this before, but I'm always up for a challenge," LaPaglia told WHO on the eve of his flight to Samoa for the Ten series. "I'm a little apprehensive about taking on something like this, but I have a sick compulsion to take on things that scare me a little bit and this is one of them."
The Adelaide-born LaPaglia, 46, achieved movie and TV fame in the US, most notably with roles on New York Undercover, Seven Days and The District, before returning home in 2011 to star in ABC's The Slap, followed by Nine's Underbelly: Badness and Love Child.
But LaPaglia admits he has no reality TV experience and that acting may or may not be an asset as a host. "It's somewhat of a concern because I rely on a script and there is no script on this one, so there is no second take," he says. "There's nowhere to hide as such. It might be a detriment. I don't know. We'll find out."
On the plus side, LaPaglia says he is "a huge fan" of the show and he has enjoyed re-watching previous seasons with his actress wife, Ursula Brooks, and their daughter Tilly. "I was a passive viewer then, but now I'm going back and looking at it completely differently, with more of a critical eye on trying to figure out how it's done," LaPaglia says. "Of course, we're binge-watching it, so we're staying up 'til stupid hours watching, so I'm always tired now!"
Also part of his preparation — meeting US host Jeff Probst. "I really felt like I had him on my side," LaPaglia says, "and I've called him a couple times since to ask him questions about it the more I start trying to work it out and he's been incredibly helpful. He's part sports announcer, he's part team coach, and then he's part team psychologist and on top of that, he's the referee, so there's a lot of hats that he has to wear and he has to be good at a lot of things."
One hat LaPaglia may not wear, though, is Probst's signature cap. "I know the producers don't want me to wear the trucker hat, I guess, to differentiate the two shows," LaPaglia says, "but I was like, uh, OK, alright, but I'm a little concerned about that because it's going to be tough out there in the sun. It's hot out there. It's really hot."
So don't expect LaPaglia to swap places with any of the 24 contestants over the course of their 55 days in the game. "It's way too hard," LaPaglia says. "Well, I just don't think I'd get through it. My social game is terrible.”