Kate Chastain is no traitor. Her fellow contestants on The Traitors eventually realized this, though it took them late in the game to do so and long after she’d already stolen the show thanks to her biting one-liners and controversial strategy.
The Below Deck alum returned with a force to the reality TV life she’s so good at in the new competition series The Traitors, which dropped in full on Peacock earlier this month. Based on the Dutch series De Verraders, the game show follows the players, collectively known as “the faithfuls,” as they try to identify and vote out three traitors hiding in their group in order to win a shared $250,000. The traitors, who secretly banish faithfuls throughout the game, win the money if they can avoid getting voted off.
Peacock compiled an Avengers-like assembly of reality TV greats and other celebrities (alongside other contestants) to compete in a variety of team challenges. The Bachelor’s Arie Luyendyk is there. So are Survivor legends Cirie Fields and Stephenie LaGrossa, as well as Big Brother alumni Rachel Reilly and Cody Calafiore. Even storied Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is partaking in some Knives Out–style scheming. Alan Cumming is there too as the tartan-wearing host of the campy series set on a lavish Scottish estate.
In the end, Fields took home the prize pot as the only traitor to survive. It was a triumphant win for the reality TV veteran who is often considered one of the best Survivor players to have never won the CBS series. Her fellow original defectors on The Traitors (Calafiore and Christian de la Torre, an LA-based content creator) were voted out. Luyendyk, who became a traitor later in the game, took himself out in the final episode.
Chastain finished fifth after largely being sidelined for most of the game, which was in part a result of her self-ostracization. Below, Chastain opens up about her experience on The Traitors, explaining what she thought of Fields’s win, what she’d change in a second season, Oh, why exactly she signed on in the first place.
“I wanted to do it until I realized [that] I'm never going to win this and everybody's against me,” she told BuzzFeed News. “So rather than just accept defeat, I decided, ‘Let's make the best of it and have some fun along the way.’”
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Congratulations on The Traitors! Take me back to the beginning. What made you want to do the show?
So one of the executives, this was his show. He gave me a call. He said, "Kate, I've got the perfect show for you. You're the first person I thought of." Which was so flattering. And then he sent me the link to the show description and I saw it was a show of manipulation and deceit, and I was slightly less flattered. But him being the great executive that he is, he said, "Listen, it's in Scotland, in a castle, [and] Alan Cumming's the host." These all sounded wonderful. And I was excited to show off my winter coat collection.
Did you know that it was going to be a reality competition show?
I knew it was a reality competition show, but I thought it was more psychological, and that sounded fun to me — sitting in a castle and trying to pick out who the liars are — because I do that anyways on a daily basis. I have a long list of people I don't trust for whatever reason. If you back into a parking spot, I don't trust you.
Did you know going in that it was going to be reality stars and new people?
First, I thought it was going to be all Bravo people, and then I learned that there would be a mix. But I heard that the nonreality people were selected because they were huge competition show fans. So actually I thought that the civilian cast members would actually be the biggest threat because they were presented to me as people who loved watching these kinds of games and knew all the strategies.
There seemed to be a divide among the civilians and the reality stars, as well as the Bravo stars and the reality competition stars.
I've heard that. Certainly at first, day one, that was true because you're going to gravitate to the people that you know in such a new experience. But to be fair, the Bravo people didn't last very long. Reza [Farahan] was gone first. Brandi [Glanville] was gone shortly after that, and Kyle [Cooke] and I probably talked the least the entire time. So I think whatever Bravo clique may have existed at first was quickly broken up.
Did it take a second to understand how to play a reality competition TV show?
A little bit, yes. But also I felt like perhaps [the reality competition stars] had a disadvantage because, sure, maybe in your competition world you guys play this way, but guess what? I'm in this game too, and I'm going to affect the game as well.
It did kind of bother me that, lo and behold, Cirie, Stephenie, and Rachel had also done this [USA Network reality competition series] Snake in the Grass together. Watching the show, once it aired, it's kind of like, oh, they did kind of have a connection.
Did you know about Snake in the Grass while filming?
We did not know that they had done Snake in the Grass, and they did not tell us, and I don't even blame them. And it's fine. Because let's face it, I still made it further than Stephenie and Rachel [laughs].
What was your reaction to Cirie’s win?
Because of this power that Cirie somehow has over you, you're like, she's probably a traitor, but I don't want to go there. Let's focus on the other two first, and then we'll get to Cirie. But I wasn't surprised, and frankly I think she deserved to win.
Why didn't you want to go for Cirie?
Both Cirie and I will say [that] Cirie was like, "Kate, I know you want to go home, but you make me laugh so I'm keeping you." And I would say, "Cirie, I know you're probably a traitor, but I like you, so I don't even care."
Were you aware of her Survivor notoriety?
When I got back home after filming and people were like, "Who were you on with?" I was like, "Well, Cirie from Survivor." And they'd be like, "Oh, Cirie." She certainly had a reputation that preceded her. And had I known that, I would've been calling her out much sooner.
Moving on: Did you actually want to go home, like you mentioned several times?
[The faithfuls were] like, "Kate, I voted for you. I actually don't think you're a traitor, but I voted for you." And to hear that, it's like, why am I even here? So it felt like at least if I start saying I want to go home and then I get sent home, it's still a win for me.
Did the faithfuls know how many traitors there were in the game?
That's such a good question. So I believe in the Dutch version, which was the original one, it was definitely just three. … If they're going to do another season, I think it should be [to] give the faithfuls a chance because we were told it could be anywhere from three to five [traitors], and it just added so much confusion.
Would you ever go on Survivor or Big Brother?
Cirie told me very much about her experience on Survivor and absolutely not. They have to sleep on leaves. It's so cold you have to spoon with strangers for warmth. … If a friend asked me to put sunblock on them, I'm like, ew, no. I don't want to touch other humans. It's awkward. Big Brother, I actually feel like I wouldn't mind because you're just hanging out in a house.
What would you like to see change on a second season of The Traitors?
The show would be more fair and more interesting if, perhaps, the money that wasn't earned [by the faithfuls] is what the traitors got. … Also, make the challenges every man, woman, or them for themselves to win immunity because the team makes no sense. Because all the money is going to the same place, you might not even get at the edge. … It would add higher stakes.
Did you make amends with Rachel Reilly?
Oh, absolutely. [She] and Stephenie have been so lovely to me since we left the castle, but I'm not going to lie. There is a part of me that now this show's airing, and they're all like, "Kate, you're so funny on the show. Oh my gosh." I'm like, well, you weren't that nice to me in the castle. So we're all fine, but I'll never forget.
If they did an all-stars season, would you sign on?
I perhaps would maybe do it again just because I just don't feel like I got a fair shot. But honestly, those missions, I don't really want to do anything like that anymore.