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Starring in a reality dating show is daunting enough, but especially if you are pretending to be someone else.
In Fox’s I Wanna Marry “Harry,” which has its high-profile premiere on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. following American Idol, Matt Hicks has to not only charm 12 American girls, but also convince them that he is the British royal family’s most notorious bachelor.
With his bright red hair, cheeky smile and posh English accent, the 25-year-old from Exeter, England, is actually an environmental consultant, but he had his suitors convinced that he was Prince Harry.
“I am just a regular bloke from near London with no royal connections whatsoever,” Hicks told The Hollywood Reporter, while admitting that he did feel bad for fooling the contestants, but he still enjoyed the wild adventure. “It was quite ridiculous! I did it because I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and would be an absolute laugh — what better way to meet a cool American girl?”
Have you been mistaken for Prince Harry before?
I have a few times before, especially over the last few years since university, when I was 17 or 18. I did a few jobs prior to this doing promotion evenings in nightclubs, etc., but this was on a whole new level.
The contestants were all looking for love and a Prince Charming, did you feel guilty fooling them?
At points I did, for sure, but the premise was to see if the girls fell for the trappings of a prince — or if they were genuine, and in the end, did it matter that I was just a standard bloke? The more the show went on, I felt bad as I began to like some of them and got attached, so it was hard lying. At times, I felt guilty, and that was the worst thing about it for me — but we wanted to see if the girls were shallow … if the fanciness would buy them, and then they would shun me when they found out the truth.
Were you surprised at how many fell for it?
The whole show is put together in a clever way as an elaborate plan, but I was surprised that it worked as well as it did. They [the girls] were put in a very confusing situation, even the most skeptical of people could be brought around to that way of thinking. I don’t think it would have worked with British girls, as we have a lot better idea of what the royal family looks like, and there is more of an infatuation with the royals from the Americans.
They were mainly just intrigued, plus I played divergent tactics and was coy and mysterious. It had to be a charade and sow a seed of doubt rather than be an exact replica of royal life; we just had to give that impression more than anything. There was a lot of blagging involved!
What is the difference between dating American and English girls?
Americans are more forward; English are more reserved. And Americans are more open, which is refreshing. There is plenty of romance and drama, but we keep it classy.
What was the hardest thing about keeping it a secret?
Every time I opened my mouth, I had to think about what I was saying, I had to be very aware of what I had said previously and at no point could I slip up, so I had to fall back on the information that I had learned about Harry. It took a lot of concentration and a lot of research! I was a Harry expert for the show, but I don’t remember it all anymore. Memorizing all the details was the most challenging thing: I had to remember what I had done in my gap year [out from university] and who my friends were. I would fall into telling my own stories, then have to twist it around. I did slip up a few times, but nothing that jeopardized the show.
The most surprising thing is how much he does. He is a busy bloke, we just see the scandals but he does a lot of work. I had also never ridden a horse before, so I had to learn how to ride and how to play polo.
What was the best part about being a prince — even a fake one?
The transportation — we were in helicopters, Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs, speed boats — it was as opulent as it gets. It was all filmed in Berkshire, England, and we went to some really beautiful places.
I Wanna Marry “Harry” premieres on Fox on Tuesday at 9 p.m. following the first part of the American Idol finale.
Watch a video clip from the show below.
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