“Did you eat bugs?” “What did you sleep on?” “Did anyone get hurt?”
Those were some of the most common questions that greeted Rob Anderson when he returned to Chicago from a trip to California.
As you might have guessed, he wasn’t on vacation.
He was being hunted.
The 25-year-old Lakeview resident was essentially playing real life “Hunger Games” as part of CW’s newest reality TV show “Capture.”
“I’m just excited to be a normal, civilized person again,” Anderson said.
“Capture” pits 12 teams of two contestants against one another in a wilderness compound called the “Hunting Grounds.” For a month, teams partake in a winner-take-all battle to survive with $250,000 on the line.
Each week, different teams are designated as hunters. The teams being hunted must wear equipment that forces them to constantly move as they try to live on limited rations. Once the hunters have two teams in captivity, the rest of the competitors vote on who stays and who goes.
“Capture” premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“I was drawn to the fact that the show was about ‘how far can I push myself.’ ” Anderson said. “I was looking to be challenged emotionally and physically. I was curious how far I could go.”
Anderson, paired with fellow Chicagoan Jacob Kosior—also 25 and a Lakeview resident--on the “Red Team,” couldn’t reveal if he won. And he’s not worried about trying to keep the show’s outcome a secret.
For now, he’s just excited to be able to walk down the street and get a cup of coffee.
“Every single item of food I could think of while I was out there sounded so amazing,” he said with a laugh. “Not having contact with the outside world was so hard. I just wanted to know what’s going on. What new music is there? Can I check my email?
“I felt like I was at some sort of camp where I did something wrong and I wasn’t allowed to contact my family and friends.”
On the surface, Anderson doesn’t seem like the ideal “Capture” candidate.
Most of his friends and family were certainly surprised by his decision to join the show after he responded to a casting call at iO, where he performs improv.
“I wear nice clothes, I hate the extreme heat, and I hate the cold. I’m a very indoor-city person,” he said. “Some of my friends were like, ‘Well, you’re going to die. See you never.’”
But Anderson felt he had some skills that would come in handy – some more obvious than others.
He was a Boy Scout for 11 years. He has an idea of what you can and can’t eat.
He’s ultra competitive. And he’s the first one to admit it.
“For example, the other week I was playing the game Taboo, and my boyfriend was so mad at me after it was over,” Anderson said. “I was like, ‘What are you so mad about?’ He was like, ‘You’re just too competitive. If you’re going to lose or think you’re going to lose, something just comes over you, and it’s no longer fun for me to play with you.’”
Anderson biggest advantage? Improv.
“The No. 1 rule in improv is you just agree to whatever is happening to you,” he said. “When we were out there and things change all the time and your relationship with people and the game changes, you can’t fight it. You have to agree to it. It was much easier to overcome it with that attitude.”
Even living in Chicago has its perks in a battle-royal competition. Who knew?
“Chicago is one of the friendliest cities,” he said. “Everyone is really warm here. You can go out to a bar somewhere and through Midwestern hospitality and a little alcohol, you can meet some great people anywhere. I think that charm helped. I was trying to be the most likable and friendly person possible.”
As a “thank you” for the likeable edge, Anderson said he’d give back to Chicago and its gay community should he win the $250,000 prize. He’d donate a large sum of his winnings to the Center on Halsted.
Oh yeah, and he’d take his mom to Disney World.
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