1:24pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor' Host Chris Harrison Held a "Come-to-Jesus Meeting" With Nick During Filming
Chris Harrison knew from the start that Nick Viall was a controversial choice for The Bachelor.
"It's just crazy enough to work," he said ahead of the 21st season premiere of the show, which this time features leading man Viall, a two-time Bachelorette runner-up and Bachelor in Paradise finalist (making his run as the bachelor his fourth on the dating franchise).
So the ABC host wasn't surprised when Ellen DeGeneres ripped apart the smug behavior Viall has displayed in the first two episodes of the season.
"I liked Nick, but now I'm looking at Nick, and it seems like he's guarded and not sincere," DeGeneres told Harrison on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Friday.
"You're right," agreed Harrison. "At the beginning of this show, he's kind of skating. He's just going through the paces and the motions and doing probably what he's always done, his defense mechanisms. Look, he's a good-looking guy, he's charismatic, and I bet that's been enough for him."
Viall, 36, first rose to bad-boy fame with viewers of the franchise in 2014 when he revealed he and bachelorette Andi Dorfman had sex during Fantasy Suite week, as the overnight dates are not filmed. A year later, viewers applauded Kaitlyn Bristowe's final pick, Shawn Booth, after Viall was handed his second runner-up placement.
But during this summer's Bachelor in Paradise, the franchise's spinoff series, Viall won back fans when he struggled to find love and ultimately walked away for a third time alone.
So when Viall appeared to be retreating to his old ways — the bachelor made out with two topless contestants and kissed loads more on Monday's episode — Harrison said he reached a breaking point with his star.
"You will see as the show goes on — as I tell my kids, sometimes you have to have that come-to-Jesus meeting, and I had one of those with Nick," Harrison told DeGeneres. He said he reached the breaking point and relayed to Viall: "Look, I need you to show up. You can't just skate through this."
When he added, "The Bachelor's a very interesting thing, you can't fake your way through it," replied DeGeneres coyly, "But, I mean, haven't people faked their way through it? It feels like they do."
Harrison suggested that contestants might fake things while in the Fantasy Suite, but then compared the experience of the show to going through rehab.
"Nobody comes out of this on the other side unchanged," he said. "You get stripped down, really, emotionally. I know this sounds silly because it's entertainment and we all laugh and we watch this show."
Ellen agreed: "It seems like the opposite of rehab because they're drunk all the time."
But Harrison continued to stress how serious Viall was about the gig, which is why he ultimately got the job over Bachelorette fan favorite Luke Pell at the last minute.
"He definitely did a 180 in the public eye when he was on Paradise, and that's when people got to see the guy that we knew and already loved, and that's why we picked him," Harrison said of Viall, adding how seriously they take the show. "Nick was a very sincere guy, and you will see throughout this he was very serious about going on this 'journey' — as we call it — and finding love."
So serious, in fact, Harrison said that's why Viall and the producers wouldn't intervene when this season's villain, Corinne — whom DeGeneres called a "train wreck" for slurring her words, among other things — drank too much.
"It's a gray area of how much a producer or bachelor gets involved," he said. "If this is really how she behaves, then that [signals] red flags, maybe."
Watch Harrison's visit on The Ellen DeGeneres Show below and follow THR's weekly Power Rankings after The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.