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Countdown to 'Survivor: Redemption Island': Meet Grant Mattos

February 15, 2011 | 11:36 am

99483_DD03148b On Monday, we introduced you to Southern California native David Murphy, competing in the new season of “Survivor,” premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Today, we'd like you to meet another West Hollywood resident you’ll see trying his hand during the “Redemption Island” season.

I caught Grant Mattos, 29, on the phone while he was riding a train to San Diego to visit a friend. Originally from San Francisco, Mattos made his way to Los Angeles by way of a football scholarship at USC. He even played in the NFL before becoming a yoga instructor.

Like Murphy, who had never seen an episode of “Survivor” before being cast, Mattos admitted that he wasn’t a huge fan before. So he watched more to “try to figure out a loophole” but didn’t want to follow any particular person’s strategies.

“I dug how Ozzy (Lusth, “Cook Islands,” “Fans vs. Favorites”) played. Just from a physical standpoint, it was fun to watch,” Mattos said. “I knew going in you can’t emulate someone, that you just need to be yourself. People asked, ‘How you gonna play it?’ You don’t really know for sure 'til you get there and see who you’re playing against.”

Mattos had a leg up on Murphy, though, in former castaway and good friend Natalie Bolton (“Fans vs. Favorites”). She’s actually the reason he auditioned -- that story and more after the jump.

“Natalie basically told me her experience and how awesome it was on so many levels. ... I wanted a similar, if not better, experience for myself,” he said. “You are playing a game with others, but it’s amazing the journey of self-discovery you go on.”

All of Mattos’ friends and family were stoked, and he even had some huge “Survivor” fans “come out of the woodwork” as he prepared for the show. Speaking about his preparation, he said he tried to gain weight by eating more but only put on 8 pounds. His experience in the NFL prepared him more than anything.

“It helped me overall and while doing all the auditions in L.A.,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress in training camps and not knowing whether or not you’ll still be there [after cuts]. I’m grateful for that.”
Favorite TV: “When I do watch, it’s the Discovery or History channels. I love documentaries, anything to do with nature. Loved ‘Planet Earth.’ ”

Favorite movies: “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Vanilla Sky,” although Mattos still enjoys some “Ace Ventura.”

Favorite music: “Little bit of everything. Love R&B, soul and classic rock. Raised on classic rock, and Dad listened to a lot of Motown. Nina Simone, Maxwell, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Allman Brothers, Carl Thomas, Donell Jones, Jon B. The list goes on."

Normal life: He and his wife live close to the Grove and walk there often, as well as around West Hollywood. They don’t eat out that much because “my wife’s a madwoman in the kitchen.” And, trying not to give plot details away, Mattos said he’s a “big softie. I’m not a crier, but I am a Pisces.”

Come back Wednesday to throw out crazy bets and make random assumptions about the new castaways before the show premieres!


Meet David Murphy of 'Survivor: Redemption Island'

Full Show Tracker coverage of 'Survivor'

— Anthony Williams

Photo: Grant Mattos in the first episode of "Survivor: Redemption Island." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS

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Countdown to 'Redemption Island': Meet David Murphy

99483_DD03451cb There are just three days until the premiere of a new season of “Survivor.” And, as teased in the newest commercials, just because your torch gets snuffed doesn’t mean all’s said and done in “Redemption Island.”

Here we offer you a closer look at one of the 10 Southern Californians playing the game this time around. Meet another Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we’ll speculate and wager over how the season will play out. (Will the Redemption Island twist disappoint more viewers than that ol’ Medallion of Power?)

David Murphy, 31, is a defense attorney living in West Hollywood. I talked to him on the phone one afternoon a few weeks ago when he was outside a Santa Monica hospital visiting a friend (he already gets points for that, no?). Read more, and find a short video, after the jump.

Murphy said he’d never seen an episode of “Survivor” prior to applying for the show (uh oh), but caught up by watching 11 seasons in six weeks (well, all right, then) “from a student’s perspective.” He thought Season 20, “Heroes vs. Villains,” had the most lessons and found it the most intriguing.

“It’s the best of the best,” Murphy said. “[But] I’m not trying to fit myself into a mold.”

The young and single lawyer said his friends and family weren’t really surprised that he was doing a reality show, although they were surprised that it was “Survivor,” but he hasn’t heard any negative feedback.

“It’s not something I’d do. … I don’t really like camping or sleeping on the floor,” he said. “It’s so far removed from my life.”

In addition to a “fairly strict” diet and a private trainer, Murphy read “The Art of War” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for preparation before departing for the shores of Nicaragua.

Favorite TV: watches a little bit, including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Office” and the occasional crime show.

Favorite movies: no certain type, but likes “The Big Lebowski.”

Favorite music: tends toward Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.

Normal life: works a lot but often hits up happy hour. Is “not a crier.” Drank a beer as soon as he returned home. “That was the first thing I wanted when I came back.” And if you spot him out somewhere and want to send him a drink, don’t worry, he doesn’t discriminate among brands and such.

— Anthony Williams

Photo: David Murphy in the first episode of "Survivor: Redemption Island." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS