Chris Harrison is confident that Andi Dorfman will win over the hearts of pretty much everyone. “If you weren’t before, I think you’ll quickly become an Andi fan,” Harrison said. And starting tonight, that theory will be put to the test when Andi — the girl who told Juan Pablo it wasn’t “OK” — embarks on her journey to find love.
We caught up with Harrison to talk about how Andi has approached the experience and what viewers can expect from the lawyer who can’t dance:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does Andi differ from previous Bachelorettes?
CHRIS HARRISON: She’s definitely very analytical. She approached this like she would a serious court case. She really does her background checks, she does her homework, her investigations, and she does her follow-ups when she doesn’t feel right about something. It was really interesting to watch her go through this meticulous process, but I think she is easily our most accomplished, business-minded woman that we’ve ever had on the show and maybe even period, Bachelor or Bachelorette. She’s an incredibly strong business woman and takes it very seriously, and she’s really good at it. You’ll see that approach in everything she does on the show. It was refreshing to go through this with someone who is very business-like and understands that it does take work, and it is hard. Everything’s not just handed to you, so she was very grateful and appreciative of everything which made it nice.
At the same time, I feel like she has that hardass side. If anyone is going to give us another Ali-chasing-Justin-through-the-garden moment, I think it’ll be Andi.
[That’s] still one of my favorite moments. I’ll never forget the poor people in the Hilton there in Istanbul, who thought these crazy Americans had come over there. But yeah. What I knew people would be attracted to was the way she handled the Juan Pablo situation, how strong and confident she was as a woman. But when you see that there is this vulnerable, sweet woman who also is sincerely looking for love, it’s a great combination. Because you can’t come into this as a lawyer, and you can’t come into this controlling and guarded and just protecting yourself from getting hurt, because if you do that, it’s probably not going to work. You really have to let yourself go and give yourself up to the process, and she was somehow able to do that and able to do both. She was able to keep her lawyer hat on and be professional and deal with it meticulously, but at the same time, kind of give herself up to the process, which I was really impressed with. It’s not an easy combination.
So you feel she was really able to let go and allow the process to work?
Early on at least, she’s talking the talk. When push comes to shove at the end of this, it’s hard to say if someone will let go all the way and really can make it all the way. It’s easy when there’s 25 guys and everybody’s happy and you haven’t faced any hardships yet. But she seems to be a woman that can do that. I’ve met her family, and you can see where it comes from. When you meet her mom and dad and her sister, they’re a very tight-knit group, and just a very good, down-home, conservative family, and they really care for their own. So judging by her family and the backbone and the strength of where it all comes from, I feel like she has the strength to do that. It sounds weird that you need to be strong to be vulnerable, but it’s true. You have to have the confidence and the strength that good things can happen, and that’s the ability to let go. The people that are unsure really have that trouble. I think she has the ability to do that, and she knows that can lead to great things, but it can also lead to heartbreak. Like most people, that’s her fear in this.
I’ve seen where you’ve talked about the guys this year reminding you of Trista’s season in terms of it feeling like a fraternity. Is this house one of the closest?
There are certain seasons where the guys or the girls really click and there’s this camaraderie about them and within them that just really goes well. Ali’s season was another one where the guys just really got along, and sometimes it’s almost to the detriment of the show and the Bachelorette in that the women have a really tough time because she walks in and it’s like there’s a frat party going on and the guys are just hanging out and she’s like “Hey, what about me? Remember? I’m the Bachelorette.” [Laughs] But it was a really tight-knit group, it was a sweet group of guys. I think it was because of the level of men we had for Andi and again, it was because of her, we had this group of very professional, dynamic, diverse men that were attracted to her and wanted a shot to win her heart. If you have a bunch of quality men, you’re going to have that situation where it’s a bunch of good guys that get along.
What are you most excited for fans to see this season?
Definitely people getting to know Andi. I think people are really going to fall for her, because she’s the type of person that I think girls will want to be friends with, and women will want to root for, and guys will want to be with her. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, but at the same time, it comes in a package of a caring, sweet person. The best way to show an example of it is how quickly she gets to know everybody. As soon as you say something about your family or your life, she memorizes that and remembers it, and the next conversation, she picks back up right where you left off with that person, and it blew the guys away that she would have 25 conversations and come back and know the name of your brothers and sisters and where you’re from and what you do. The guys couldn’t believe that she was so into each one of them. And that led to so many guys falling for her. That’s really where the competition and the drama will get into it, because I think these guys, as fortunate as she feels, these guys realize they have a catch on their hands as well. And they realize this is a great girl that’s worth fighting for.
We’re coming off Juan Pablo’s controversial season, so how does this season compare in terms of drama? Do you expect fans to have a similar reaction or is this a breath of fresh air?
One of the things I love about the show — I guess it can be good and bad — but no matter what’s happening in a season, as soon as that season’s over, you move on to the next story. Each Bachelor or Bachelorette brings their own history, baggage, issues, whatever to the table, so Sean’s season is going to be very different from Ali which will be different from Des, and different from Juan Pablo, so it’s really interesting for me. The show takes on the life and the feel of whoever our Bachelor or Bachelorette is. They’re kind of our lead character, and they really do lead the way, because their emotions and their personality and everything really bleeds into our crew as well. It permeates the entire show, and it’s really interesting to see. It’s kind of a great study in human behavior, but when you have this positive person who really is excited to be there, it’s interesting to see that our producers have a spring in their step and everybody really wants to be at work and everybody really hopes this works out. I kind of see how our fans are going to react by watching our crew and how they feel about them. Juan Pablo’s season was a bit controversial — not that he’s a bad guy or a good guy — that’s just he way it was. It’s what we were dealing with. We were dealing with his life and his issues and his baggage, and the whole show, as the fans saw, definitely had that feel. It was a little bit contentious at times, it was a little rockier than normal, and then you have Andi who has her own thoughts and beliefs, so it permeates the show as well. It was just a different feel altogether.
Most importantly, will Andi be dancing?
Sadly, yes. [Laughs] There is dancing and singing. I forget where we were the other day, her and I were in a room and there was some music on, and she was like, “Please don’t make me dance anymore.” I said, “When you’re done with this show, will you just never dance again?” And she was like, “If I can have anything to do with it, yes. I’ll never dance again.” [Laughs] But yes. I don’t think there’s dancing to the grand stage of throwing her on a stage in Seoul, Korea in front of 1,000 people but there’s something coming up that’s just as grand. She has to sing and dance a little bit this season, but despite that, she still loves us and I think she’s still going to hang around.
The Bachelorette premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.