2:03pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor' Hopeful Luke Pell Speaks Out on Last-Minute Nick Viall Casting: "I Had My Bags Packed"
Bachelor viewers everywhere were surprised when ABC announced Nick Viall would be the next leading man of the franchise — but no one was more surprised than Luke Pell.
In an interview with Us Weekly, the fan-favorite contestant from JoJo Fletcher's recently wrapped season 12 of The Bachelorette said he was supposed to get the gig and only found out about the last-minute switch hours before he was set to begin filming.
“We were all satisfied, had agreed to the contracts, and everything was moving forward,” said Pell. “I was checked into my flight to come to L.A. I got a call from producers Sunday night at about 10 p.m. They said ABC had decided to 'go in a different direction.' I was supposed to fly out Monday morning at 9 a.m. I had my bags packed and everything.”
He continued, "I met with the wardrobe guys. Everything was moving forward. Everyone on the production level was expecting it to be me, as well." (ABC declined to comment on this story.)
Viall, who currently is appearing on ABC's Bachelor in Paradise and was first runner-up on two consecutive seasons of The Bachelorette, was announced as the next Bachelor on aftershow After Paradise on Tuesday.
The move came as a surprise, as the long-running franchise typically selects a fan favorite from the previous cycle of The Bachelorette. Even franchise host Chris Harrison spoke to the controversial pick, saying, "While Luke and Chase [McNary, also from JoJo's season] were good guys, we all just kept coming back to Nick, and it's just crazy enough to work."
Last season also saw a last-minute switch, when Fletcher was picked over Caila Quinn. Both women, however, were from the previous cycle of Ben Higgins' The Bachelor.
While Pell told the magazine that he has come to accept the network's surprising decision, he isn't holding out hope that ABC will look to him for a future season of the show.
“I probably wouldn’t do it,” said the Nashville songwriter. “I don’t want to wait in the wings for what decisions they can make for my life. I want to head back into taking control of my own destiny.”
In 2014, Viall was the first runner-up on Andi Dorfman's season, which ended with Dorfman engaged to Josh Murray (they since have broken up). A year later, Viall again came in second on Kaitlyn Bristowe's season (she is still engaged to Shawn Booth).
On Bachelor in Paradise, Viall again faced off against Murray for the same woman, Amanda Stanton (Murray and Stanton are still dating).
"I've had an interesting process through this journey, and it hasn't worked so far," said Viall about returning for his fourth chance at love on the franchise. "Hopefully, things will end up on a more positive note." After the finale of Bachelor in Paradise on Tuesday (8 p.m. on ABC), Viall will return to After Paradise to talk about The Bachelor.
Pell also took to his Instagram account to share a post from his mother about the "next chapter" of the family's life.