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The Bachelorette viewers got some answers to some big questions on Monday night’s Men Tell All special.
But with only two hours of airtime to catch up with the cast, there were several questions that still needed to be addressed — or, at the very least, clarified.
The Hollywood Reporter was at the taping and got to talk to Desiree Hartsock along with her ousted suitors Zak Waddell, James Case, Juan Pablo Galavis and Ben Scott. Here, they break down some of the season’s most memorable moments and share behind-the-scenes scoop on what really happened.
1. What does Desiree make of the drama surrounding Ben and James?
Both men were accused by fellow suitors of not being on The Bachelorette “for the right reasons” — which is, yep, worst thing imaginable for a show participant. Desiree said she got everything out that she needed to say to both James and Ben. “I think I was able to say what I felt, and whether or not it sinks into their hearts, you know, I have no idea,” she said. “But I hope that they can both learn from watching it back and see the way that they were.” Watching the show this season, she said, has confirmed her suspicions that neither was truly there for her. “Everything that the [other] guys ended up saying [about Ben and James] did confirm my intuition, and I think that was nice they were able to come to me and tell me,” she said.
2. Really, why did Ben make those comments in the limo?
During his exit ride, Ben asked how long he could be seen in public with someone and requested that the driver take him somewhere to get drunk. “You want me to sit here and look unhappy? I’m not,” he added. “Tonight will go down in history as the worst date of my life.” After the Men Tell All taping, he insisted that’s not the real Ben. “I feel the only thing I did wrong was the things I said in the limo, and I regret that,” he said. “That’s the only time I’ll be ashamed for my son to see it. The rest of the season, I was myself. I’m very passionate about pursuing a girl, and I showed it. If they wanted me to different, it wouldn’t be me being myself.” So what prompted the temporary change in demeanor? “I was extremely hurt. I had just been broken up with, on national TV, and I got to see the guy she broke up with me for. And for the past eight hours, he had been just badgering me. And just poking and jabbing at me, and not one person in the audience out there has probably not been broken up with. And what happens when you’re broken up with? You’re hurt, you’re angry, you’re going through all these emotions, you’re saying things and doing things that you don’t necessarily mean and you may regret. But in the moment, your heart and your mind are running crazy. So I was not in the best state of mind. I wish my limo ride had been different, but I don’t want people to judge me based on those 15 minutes and judge who I am and not look at everything else.”
3. Fellow suitor Dan said Ben’s ex (and the mother of his son) made several harsh accusations about Ben when they ran into each other in Las Vegas — accusations Ben vehemently denied. What does he think happened there?
“I really was caught off guard by the things Dan stated because they are 100 percent untrue, and he stated things that supposedly came from somebody’s mouth that is not there to defend it, that is not there to make her statement,” Ben said. “And that’s what really hurt me. Me and my son’s mom have an amazing relationship; we’re best friends, and to be honest what he said is really going to hurt her.” He said he has no idea what the truth is behind Dan’s statements and says he is so close to his ex that while he was filming The Bachelorette, she attended his cousin’s wedding even though he was unable to do so.
4. Is Ben still upset with Michael for his relentless questioning during their two-on-one date?
In a word, no. Ben said he isn’t holding a grudge. “I know he’s a great guy; we just didn’t mesh. But that’s OK: Not everybody’s going to mesh in life.”
5. Do either James or Ben feel like they were portrayed unfairly??
“I can’t say that I was portrayed unfairly because I was portrayed as who I was and then the guys were portraying me as something different,” James said. “But that lasted six days without anybody saying anything to me. So two guys [Kasey and Drew] had the chance to take a week and turn the whole house around me, to talk about me.” He added that it “stung” to be labeled as one of this season’s “bad boys when I didn’t do anything wrong. It was a conversation that somebody else made wrong.” Said Ben: “Some of the things that were said were portrayed very inaccurately. From the get-go, I was very aggressive in how I was going after Des. It was nothing against the guys; that’s how I am at home. And what girl doesn’t want to be heavily pursued by a guy that just 100 percent wants to be with her?” Ben added that he believes that, while Desiree repeated that she didn’t want to let other people’s opinions affect her decision, “I think we, me and James, I think other people’s opinions did affect her. Because me and Des had something, and every time we talked, we had something. Until the last day, and then I was just emotionally drained at that point.”
6. What does James make of Mikey saying James owed him an apology?
During the Men Tell All special, viewers didn’t see it, but Mikey asked James for an apology for pinning the whole limo conversation debacle on his shoulders when he wasn’t there to defend himself. “What he saw was that I said that it’s all Mikey but really I got cut off,” he said, adding, “So I said sorry for the way it looked, what this kind of made everybody else see and hear, and I said I was sorry for that. But he knows who I am, and he trusts me, and I trust him, and I think the world of him, and I know that he thinks the world of me, so at the end of the day, if he wants an apology, I’ll apologize to him all day long. He’s a great person. I didn’t mean for it to come out like it was just him, but he did initiate that conversation. and we were just chatting after that.” James said he and Mikey are still friends; in fact, he’s friends with nearly everyone in the house save one or two. “You can probably guess who that is.”
7. Was James really falling in love with Desiree?
“We say that so easily, right? But really what I mean and what we mean as men in this house is we were starting to develop relationships,” he said. “But it’s, you know, you’re on TV, love’s going through your mind so it’s ‘I’m falling in love.’ No, I’m building a relationship, I’m starting to have feelings, and so when I go and say I was developing feelings, but I was still unsure. I only knew her for four weeks and I’d only had one date and I only got to meet her for 10 hours at the most, so talking about possibilities later of going out and hanging out with Mikey and possibly going out on a boat or him introducing me to people that he feels would be a good fit for me if we’re not on the show is OK. And I think the majority of America understands that.” James said he’s gotten lots of positive feedback from viewers who also share his views in being real about his future past The Bachelorette should he not get chosen while still on the show. “All the feedback I’ve gotten so far is like, what’s wrong with that? Every single one of these guys comes through this house thinking possibly they could get married, possibly they could become the Bachelor, and what’s going to happen after the show?”
8. James told Chris Harrison he would have to really think about becoming the next Bachelor if asked, despite all the drama surrounding his “secret” conversation with Mikey that suggested otherwise. But really, how hard of a decision would that be for him?
“Would I do this again? It would be tough … even as the Bachelor,” he said. “Because it’s a big responsibility to take on and people can twist [things]. … Before I came on, I thought possibly, but with all the little twists and thing that happened that aren’t true [during the season], it kind of gives you an empty feeling in your stomach.” What about Bachelor Pad? “No, not Bachelor Pad. You know, I have a very successful job, I’m done making a fool of myself.”
9. Zak performed a song he wrote for Desiree on the Men Tell All special. Is he planning to pursue a music career?
“No,” he said, laughing. “I mean, the music thing was just a great way to channel emotions and work them into something that people can understand and relate to. To be completely honest, I’ve only written two songs in my entire life and both on this show. So although I feel some confidence from it, my musical knowledge and my guitar playing skills will be pretty limiting on what I could do (Laughs). I only know a couple chords, so I think they came across well, and they really did express what I wanted to get across, especially today.” Zak adds that he only started writing his song a couple days before he came to L.A. for the Men Tell All taping. “I was really trying to get back to [when I was] leaving in the limo, and everything I’ve been chewing over for the last couple weeks. All those emotions and thoughts and kinda what to do next. The end is, I guess the best way to say it, is I’m moving on, and this week was all about closure for me. Singing that song was about closure, seeing Des was about closure, and hearing why she let me go. It all helped.”
10. What did Desiree really think about Zak’s performance?
“I was not expecting him to burst out in song, but I appreciate it, and I guess it’s not too far-fetched for him to write a song,” she said. “I really thought it was beautiful.”
11. Why did Juan Pablo apply for The Bachelorette if he had never seen the show?
Short answer: He didn’t. A friend of his thought he would be a good fit and filled out the paperwork for him. He kept putting her off, telling her: “Yeah, yeah, I’ll fill that out later. I’m too busy.” Juan Pablo, who revealed during the MTA taping that he hadn’t previously see the show, says he thought he was too busy to take part and also didn’t want to leave his 4-year-old daughter, Camila, for so long. But he ultimately did meet with the producers and decided it was worth taking a shot. Even thought he wasn’t chosen by Desiree, “I’m very glad I did it.”
12. Does Zak regret showing up shirtless on the first night?
“It takes the right person to understand the joke, and she did,” he said of Desiree. “She was smiling when I came out, and I knew that if she was smiling, and if I was smiling, that got across the point. I just wanted to make something light, and I’m sure I had people questioning what I was all about in the very beginning. But that’s not me, and that quickly came out. So I wouldn’t have done anything different.”
13. What did soccer pro Juan Pablo think about getting so little screen time — especially during the soccer-game group date?
“That soccer game was the worst edited soccer game ever,” he said. “Me and Chris [Harrison] were disappointed. It was fun. But there’s so much taping; you cannot [show it all].” Still, despite the fact that he never had a one-on-one date with Desiree, he was glad he got to go on the soccer date. “I told her during that date I won’t regret not having a one-on-one date [because] I had this one,” he said. “If we would have had a one-on-one date before or after she had that group date. I would be disappointed not to be in that one, so it was just great.”
The Bachelorette airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on ABC.
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