Arie Luyendyk Jr. is ready to find love… again.
It’s been years since Emily Maynard broke Arie’s heart on The Bachelorette, and the “kissing bandit” is finally getting his second chance at love. But before his journey begins, EW spoke with Bachelor host Chris Harrison about what fans can expect (and what he says to everyone who doubts their decision to choose Arie)…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Has Arie changed at all since he was on The Bachelorette?
CHRIS HARRISON: He’s the same great guy that everybody fell in love with on Emily’s season. That’s something I’m excited about because some of us got to know and love Arie but a lot of [people] didn’t watch five years ago and they don’t know him as well. People have to remember how incredibly popular Arie was and how much, I mean EVERY woman for two to three years after stopped me and would talk about how he’s the greatest kisser and he’s so romantic. He’s someone we always wanted to make the Bachelor but then because of timing and things that happened — Sean [Lowe] came up — he kept getting bumped out of his place in line. So it’s fun that we said, “Let’s go back and get him his chance.” He hasn’t changed other than that it’s five years later and he still hasn’t found the love of his life.
How would you describe the women in the house this season?
It’s an incredible group of women — highly educated, very professional and fun. Arie connected with them incredibly well; I connected with this group really well. It was really a good, dynamic group and that’s not to say that we’re not going to have our moments, our drama and the competition and all that, but it really was a very good group. He was very blown away on night one after meeting everybody.
What do you say to the people who didn’t watch Emily’s season and haven’t met Arie?
I’m happy for the people who knew and loved Arie, but then there’s those that maybe they’re a little younger or they didn’t see the show and I’m actually more excited for them to get to know Arie. I’m excited for people to get to know Arie for the first time because he’s a great guy. He’s dynamic and yeah, he is a good kisser and he makes these women feel things very quickly. They fell for him very very quickly. I like that about him and I like that there are fans out there, maybe it’s because I’m competitive, that I kind of take it as a challenge. People are like, “Oh I don’t know this guy. Look how old he is. Why is he The Bachelor?” I take that as a challenge and I know what we have in store for everybody, so I’m more than confident that those people are going to watch and fall in love and if they don’t, they’re going to be missing out.
His family plays a big role, right?
His dad is a part of the show and his family. He’s a namesake and his dad is racing royalty. That’s a big part of Arie’s life so we had to make his family a part of the show and you will see, early on in the season, earlier than normal, we make his hometown a little bit more of the show than we normally do.
How does his season differ from others we’ve seen?
The beauty of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is that every season is different. There’s a reason I still care after 16 years and it’s because it’s different every time. Doing it with Arie is not like doing the show with Rachel [Lindsay] or doing it with Ben [Higgins] or Nick [Viall] or Kaitlyn [Bristowe]. They all bring their own spin to the show so the idea is basically the same, but Arie’s take on it is 100 percent different than anything you’ve ever seen before and that’s one of the things I love about the show. It really is a new story and a new journey every time.
Anything else you want to say to fans?
I know some people that were like, “Why Arie?” Trust me. I’m fine starting slow and people saying, “Oh I don’t know,” and then word of mouth spreads and then people start talking and then the next [week], everybody’s like, “You have to be watching this.” I know that’s the way it will be with Arie.
The Bachelor premieres Monday, Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.