Chris Harrison speaks with EW about Nick Viall's season of 'The Bachelor'

By Samantha Highfill
January 02, 2017 at 08:41 AM EST
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When Nick Viall first appeared on Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette, he was the furthest thing from a fan favorite. And even after he made a second appearance on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season, he was still considered a “controversial” contestant in the show’s history. However, all it took was a stint on Bachelor in Paradise for America to change its mind about the soon-to-be Bachelor.

“I think if you had asked us in early June of last year could Nick be the Bachelor, it would’ve been a resounding no,” host/executive producer Chris Harrison tells EW. “We knew he was a good guy but until the fans really fell in love with him, it wasn’t even a possibility. After Paradise, there was a huge shift in how everybody felt about him and how the fans perceived him, so he found his way into the mix. It was pretty interesting to see such a revolution, because typically that doesn’t happen. It says a lot about him. I think that’s what the fans have responded to and I think that’s what the fans will continue to find with this season.”

We talked to Harrison about exactly what fans can expect from Nick’s (fourth) journey to find love…

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Nick has always been on one side of this equation, so how does he handle all of the responsibilities that come with being the Bachelor?
He handles it well, but he also didn’t. What I mean by that is, in the beginning, he internalized it. He buried it and he kind of was on cruise control, which on the surface makes you think, “Wow, he’s really handling this well,” but there was a point in the show where we had a very candid conversation of: “Are you really dealing with this? Are you really going through this honestly?” I think he was just a little defensive to begin with and was a little protective.

I’m sure with this being his fourth show that he felt a ton of pressure for it to work.
He may have felt more pressure than any Bachelor we’ve ever had before. It’s pretty astounding when you think about it: He’s been our baby for three years on the show and he knows us all. This guy’s been around for four times, so he’s gotten to be really good friends with the producers and the crew and you can’t help but feel there’s a lot of pressure on you to carry the mantle and to keep this thing going and to want to please everybody. Unfairly it was there for sure and it was something we had to deal with as we went along.

Do you feel confident that this will be his last show?
Man I hope so. [Laughs] I just don’t know if I can do it anymore. I told him, this is it. There will not be a fifth time. I’m cutting him off. My last advice to all of them is always, “Don’t screw this up for me.”

Did anything surprise you about how he handled things this season?
It’s surprising in that we all saw him fall in love with Kaitlyn and Andi, so you know what it looks like in that space where he is one of the guys, but when he is in control and having to run the show, it’s a whole different space, so it’s him in a different light to have to control that and deal with all these different emotions and all the different dates and all the things that go along with that, so it is a different guy. I think what you’ll see is he rises to the occasion and he’s a gentleman. He’s a good guy, he tries to do the right thing, sometimes to the detriment of himself. But he managed it very well; he did a very good job of compartmentalizing each relationship. I think he was very fair with everybody.

How would you describe this house of women?
I think it’s safe to say it was our most dynamic, most diverse group we’ve ever had, really in every aspect, and that is a great thing, but it also gives you a hodgepodge of personalities that don’t always get along. At first, you get along and you make peace but that never lasts because emotions and competitiveness and everything else gets involved. It’s an interesting group. There’s a lot of Type A, very strong women in there, a lot of business owners, some military, so there’s a lot of powerful, strong women that aren’t used to taking a backseat.

Are there any villains to rival a Chad?
Let’s hope there’s not a woman that rivals a Chad. There’s definitely a quote-unquote villain or someone who stirs the pot, but I would liken her more to a Michelle Money-type, where at first you’re going to think she’s a villain, but I’m really going to be interested to see what people think of her. In the end, she might be everybody’s favorite. But in the beginning, she really pisses everybody off.

How does his season compare to the last one we saw, which was Ben Higgins?
It’s very different from what Ben went through. Ben was very open and honest from the beginning, but every Bachelor goes through that moment where they hit emotional rock bottom and they feel like this isn’t working and this could be a complete disaster, and Nick was the same way. We definitely get to that point where he breaks down and you’ll definitely have some full Mesnicks in there. He’s an emotional guy, especially toward the end. He really lets go and that’s a very vulnerable place, and so it’s a great season, especially middle to the end it really takes off.

The Bachelor premieres Monday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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