'The Bachelor' Rings in Historic 25th Season with Virtual Watch Party, Star Surprises

The Bachelor- VIRTUAL EVENT
Courtesy of ABC

Kirsten Dunst, Dakota Fanning and Sarah Hyland were among the famous fans who took part in Monday night's pre-game, hosted by Chris Harrison and Wells Adams. 

The Bachelor kicked off its historic 25th season on Monday night, welcoming the franchise's first Black Bachelor in Matt James, and celebrated with a virtual watch party hosted by Chris Harrison and Wells Adams.

James and former leads Ben Higgins, Nick Viall and Tayshia Adams (with new fiancé Zac Clark) made appearances during the hour-long pre-game, which also welcomed celebrity Bachelor fans Kirsten Dunst, Dakota Fanning, Sarah Hyland, Wilmer Valderrama, Yara Shahidi, Ali Landry, Jamie Chung, Hannah Simone, Jenna Ushkowitz, Lauren Lapkus and Kate Micucci. The famous guests took part in a live chat running alongside the video stream, while Hyland (who is engaged to Wells Adams) also made a quick on-screen appearance.

Ahead of the virtual event, attendees were sent gift baskets from ABC that included dinner from Prime Pizza, ingredients to make a "Matt-arita," a box of "Fantasy Sweets" and a 2021 calendar of shots of James. With dance tunes spun by DJ Cassidy, Wells Adams, the show's Bachelor in Paradise bartender, showed guests how to make the ideal margarita as he and Harrison hosted live from an outdoor space in Los Angeles, and also revealed he will make an appearance on James' season.

Breaking down his thoughts on the upcoming season, Harrison said that James is "the first Bachelor in quite some time that had not been on the show [previously], which was a good thing and a bad thing — good thing in that he didn't come in speaking the language and he wasn't so heavily Bachelor scripted, having been through so many interviews with producers and all that. But at the same time, we move at a pretty fast clip on the show, and there were times when Matt would have to stop and say 'Guys, I don't know what a rose ceremony is. You need to tell me.' He knew nothing."

Despite those initial hurdles, Harrison said production learned to "spoon food him" and that "this guy needs to learn how to crawl before he can run. But he's a smart guy, got up to speed quick, and then it was just fun being with a guy who was so real and so serious about the way he was taking it."

Higgins appeared via video chat to reveal that James had reached out to him and a number of other franchise leads looking for advice ahead of his season, telling him "don't let your head get too big but also, don't let it get too small if this goes poorly all of a sudden for a couple weeks," with fan backlash. The season 20 Bachelor also spilled some secrets from his season, including that he accidentally got a severe haircut the night before the women from his season arrived, but after shooting had already begun, resulting in production spraying fake hair on the sides of his head for night one. Higgins also had a parasite from his time in Honduras for his entire season, making him frequently sick as Harrison recalled canceling cocktail parties because the lead was too ill.

"That's when you go out and go really seriously like, "Ladies, I know you're hoping to see Ben, but he really knows what he's gonna do tonight.' He's also on the toilet right now and can't make it."

Tayshia Adams and Clarke also appeared to catch up on their new life in New York, and Viall weighed in on the new crop of women from this season. James made a special appearance to round out the night, where he watched his premiere from New York with his mom and roommate (and Bachelorette alum) Tyler Cameron.

Looking back on his night one, he joked he was "shaking like a stripper" and credited the women with carrying him through. "I was fortunate enough to have such a good group and I didn't think that women like that was single, so having that group of people to be the suitor for it's just like, I feel like the luckiest dude alive. I'm excited for everyone to meet them," he said.

After prodding from the hosts about that vibrator moment, James joked of grabbing it in the intro, "I ran the 400 meter relay in high school, it's like a baton," and added that he appreciated when women did gimmicks as "it lightened the mood because I was tense, I was nervous. When someone walks out with something like that, it's like how do you not like crack a smile?"

And when asked about his final result, he admitted, "I'm very happy."

The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC. Read James' interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the season here.