Imagine being dropped on a deserted island for 30 days with nothing but the clothes on your back and having to face the elements of nature, wild animals, finding your own food to eat and none of the conveniences of home. There’s no e-mail, mobile devices or even any way to communicate with the outside world. Could you survive?
That’s the theme of NBC’s newest reality series The Island, which premiered on the network just last Monday. The Island tests fourteen men from across the country in the biggest challenge of their lives. Unlike other reality shows, there are no winners, no eliminations or confess, and no craft services. It’s just the ultimate test of man vs. the wild. There’s not even a camera crew — the 14 men are filming everything themselves!
CelebSecrets4U caught up with trauma surgeon and contestant Dr. Buck Parker to talk all things The Island! In our interview, Dr. Buck Parker talks about how he was casted in the series, how he prepared for the show, the hardest thing about survival, and if he still keeps in contact with the contestants on the show. He even tells us why YOU should tune in every Monday and what modern comfort he didn’t mind living without. Make sure to read the Q&A below!
Tune in to an all-new episode of The Island tonight at 10PM ET/PT on NBC.
CS4U: How did you get cast on “The Island,” and why did you choose to be on the show?
Dr. Buck Parker: “I got an email from a friend in the TV world which said “Hey check this out, they are looking for a doctor on this show and it seems to be right up your alley.” The producers were looking to cast a doctor who could take care of the other cast members during shooting. This show is so different from other reality shows because we are the only people on the island. Other shows will typically have a safety team on location, but for this show nobody else was going to be there so they specifically needed cast members to have certain skills. The decided on one doctor and EMT as the safety team. I sent an email in with a picture and then went through several rounds of interviews including a Skype interview and of course a live interview with the producers. I think it’s called a “screen test” in the business….but I’m not really sure.”
CS4U: Since you were filming yourself, do you feel like you had more control over how you were presented on TV?
Dr. Buck Parker: “I don’t really think so. We were there for so long we said and did so many things, if they wanted to portray us as a villain, they probably could do that for any one of us. Luckily we had someone who was actually the villain, so I wasn’t too worried about how I would be portrayed. I suppose we could have all got together and done completely fake interviews, etc, but since we were ACTUALLY surviving….like for REAL…nobody was really interested in that. We all felt how real it was. We were really fending for ourselves out there…..this thing was LEGIT.”
CS4U: How did your background and your job prepare you for this show?
Dr. Buck Parker: “I really think I had an advantage over the other guys as far as “preparedness” goes. I don’t mean that in the survival sense everyone typically thinks about, like how to build a fire or shelter…but it ends up it really was a true survival advantage. My surgical training was so difficult, and so long, that leading up to the show I wasn’t nervous about going the distance. I probably should have been, but I wasn’t. At some point during the month I DID have thoughts about not making it the distance….but I just tried to ignore them:) My surgical training pushed me over my mental, emotional and physical limits many times. I feel like that’s how you get stronger in those areas: you just keep hitting your limits, and going back for more. Pretty soon you start to build strength in those areas. So I knew what I was like when I was sleep deprived, fatigued, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I think if you don’t know what it’s like when you hit those limits, and then you get on the island, you’re going to find out. Some find out faster than others, but I think everyone finds out. In this sense I felt more prepared than most of the other guys. Early on it was easy to see who had been pushed to the brink in their life and who hadn’t. I was glad mine was not televised :)”
CS4U: Without giving too much away, what was the hardest thing about survival–maybe something you weren’t expecting?
Dr. Buck Parker: “Exhaustion. That was the hardest thing for me. I wasn’t expecting that level of exhaustion. We all walked so slow we called it the “Zombie Walk.” Nobody could move very fast. I like to get things done. I like to be the guy really contributing to the group as a whole. If I’m not able to do that, or I feel I’m not “earning my keep,” I’d rather remove myself and have the guys who are able to do that (although not many were) get to eat what little food we did have. In mymind, if I was useless, I didn’t want to stay and be a nuisance to everyone. Luckily everybody had severe exhaustion and most days I felt like I was contributing so I guess I reasoned to myself I was doing more good than bad and I should keep pushing on.”
CS4U: Was there any modern comfort that you didn’t mind living without?
Dr. Buck Parker: “The smartphone. We are so attached to technology these days it was great to have an entire month with no cellphone, no texting, no email and no internet. If you think about it, that will probably be the last time in my life that I’ll ever do that for 28 days. It’s kind of sad actually. We all got to know each other on a very deep level. We had some great bonding in a very short amount of time. There was no smartphone to get in the way….we were forced to talk to each other. That can be good and bad depending on who is sitting next to you, but for the most part human interaction is good. Even if it’s not good, you can learn from it, and keep improving as a person.”
CS4U: Do you still keep in contact with anyone else from the show?
Dr. Buck Parker: “Oh definitely. Some more than others. You’ll see during the show who I kind of hang out with the most. Those guys I keep in regular contact with through texting and Facebook etc. Did I just answer a question stating how great it was with no technology and now I’m saying how I keep in contact with these great guys through technology? Yes, I did….so I’m a hypocrite, so what.
Anyway, a few of the guys have actually been doing some Google Hangouts each week and talking about how weird all this is and the funny things that are happening to us leading up to, and during the show.
I was really impressed with some of these guys because they were such deep thinkers. They really made me think differently, and better. I like to hang out with people who make me better, so I think I’ll be lifelong friends with a few of them.”
CS4U: Do you have any survival tips you can recommend to our readers?
Dr. Buck Parker: “I think the bottom line in life, or in survival or anything we do that is an enormous undertaking is finding out why you want to do it. I think survival is 80% mental and 20% specific skills. If you think you won’t make it, you’ll stop trying hard, and good or “lucky” things will stop happening for you. And if you’re really on a deserted island, you’ll lay around all day thinking how you can’t survive, and then pretty soon you’ll wake up dead. No matter how big the odds are against you, you have to keep thinking positive and keep trying. That doesn’t mean you should be stupid about what you’re attempting to do, but I’m just trying to say the same thing smart and successful men have been saying for a very long time….NEVER-GIVE-UP.”
CS4U: Why should our readers check out “The Island” every Monday evening on NBC this summer?
Dr. Buck Parker: “Because they’ll see a very handsome, witty and charming trauma surgeon on the show 😉
I think most guys (and a lot of women) want to know if they have it in them to survive a catastrophic scenario. Whether it’s the “Zombie Apocalypse,” a plane crash, or a national power outage, people want to think they can survive, and The Island is as close as anyone has ever been to a real survival scenario. So your readers can watch the show and see if they would have made the same decisions we did, or would have done something much better.”