What About Mary Ann?

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Before Lost’s Jack Shephard—before even the Skipper and Gil­ligan—there was Robinson Crusoe. Now NBC is bringing the original desert-island castaway to television. Crusoe, premiering Friday, October 17, stars Philip Winchester (Flyboys, Thunderbirds) as the ship­wrecked Brit who learns to live off the land while warding off pirates and cannibals. COLE LOUISON checked in with the 27-year-old Winchester while he was filming the series in South Africa.

OUTSIDE: Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719. Is it still relevant?

WINCHESTER: Daniel Defoe addressed some fundamental elements—about human nature and what it’s like to be without community or family. In the series, we’re sword-fighting and jumping off waterfalls, but we’re also exploring what it means to be truly isolated.

How’s South Africa’s Atlantic coast?
We have breaching whales, dolphins, sharks, and baboons, and there are little gray monkeys that pop inside the wardrobe department and steal things.

Do we get to see any of that in the series?

We’ve found a lot of things that work in the story. In Tsitsikamma National Park, we discovered a zipline that goes over the tops of trees and through beautiful gorges. So we put a zipline in the show—that’s how Crusoe gets around.

Crusoe is a physical character. How did you prepare for that?

I’m on an organic diet and I’m running on the beach. We see how many dune climbs we can do in one minute.

So how many?
I can do two in 37 seconds. And then I can’t move my legs.