Interview: Jillian Harris talks about her time on 'The Bachelor'
By John Bracchitta, 02/19/2009
Jillian Harris had it all figured out. She had even applied her "hot dog test".
However, after becoming one of the Final 3 bachelorettes vying for the love of The Bachelor star Jason Mesnick, the 29-year-old interior designer from Peace River, Alberta, Canada was sent packing on the penultimate episode of The Bachelor's thirteenth season when Jason decided he would never be able to be anything more than friends with her.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jillian talked to Reality TV World whether she still wants "marry her best friend," when she first realized she was falling for Jason, how she feels about him now, and whether she'drather see Jason end up with Molly Malaney or Melissa Rycroft.
Reality TV World: Based on how you thought your date in New Zealand went with Jason, is it safe to say you were surprised when you learned that you had been eliminated?
Jillian: Yeah it's pretty safe to say that I was surprised. I think that it's a very unique situation that you're in, and of course no method of how hard you're falling for somebody you always sort of wonder if this is for real and if he's the real one, you have questions in your mind and in your heart.
But when he let me go I was sincerely really disappointed and surprised.
Reality TV World: Do you think that your comments about wanting to "marry your best friend" may have come off the wrong way with him? Based on what was shown on the show, he seemed [a bit] ixated on that.
Jillian: I'm not sure if it effected his decision or not, it seemed like it did, I still stand by my word, I have a lot of mentors in my life that have very successful marriages and the key is to marry your best friend and I still stand by that, that's still what I'm looking for.
Of course I understand there has to be more, there has to be a spark. But just seeing how my family got through their marriage and my grandparents and my cousins and family and friends, that's what I'm looking for. If he was looking for something different than he made the right choice.
Jillian: (Pauses) I can see reasons why both girls would be great for him, and I can obviously see reasons why they both might not. [Melissa and I were very close] in the house, and her and I always talked about if she did win how fun it would be for us all to one day get together and have barbeques and laugh about it.
So, you know, a little selfish part inside of me hopes that it's Melissa, but the bottom line is now that I'm not the one I really hope that Jason chooses the right person and that he's happy and hopefully I'll see him again.
Reality TV World: You said that after your elimination that Jason had "broken" your heart. Could you just talk about when was the first moment that you realized exactly how strongly that you felt about him?
Jillian: (Pauses) I think the moment I felt most strongly about Jason was when I brought him home to my family and I saw how excited my parents were to meet him. What you didn't see was how excited my parents were about [Jason's son Ty] and they had a lot of questions about Ty, they had gifts for him.
And it was really wonderful to see how comfortable I was with Jason in front of my family and how well he fit in, and how much my grandma adored him. At that moment, for me, I saw him fitting in with my family perfectly, and that's when I think I fell for him hard.
Reality TV World: Could you talk about your family a little in general? It seemed like there were a bunch of characters in that house.
Jillian: Oh my gosh, my family... I've always known how unique my family is, but watching the show just melted my heart. We're all very... we're all comedians.
We've realized in life that sometimes life isn't always easy and it isn't always exactly how you planned, but how we've gotten through it is just humor, and as you see my family is just full of emotion. We don't mind crying, we don't mind laughing and 100% we're always there for each other not matter what.
My grandma is one of my best friends. Her and I, often I'll go up to Colona and her and I will sit and play Yahtzee and drink [unintelligible] all afternoon and my dad will have to come and pick up the pieces and go "Okay girls, that's enough!"
But yeah, I've got a really, really outstanding family and I'm just so lucky that I've got such great people behind me.
Reality TV World: You don't have to go into detail about anything [regarding] your mom and her past, [but] had you meant to bring that up [to Jason] or did that come after you wanted to explain more about your background and your character?
Jillian: Yeah I actually, believe it or not, was really excited to bring it up. I don't think my mom was as excited when she saw it air (laughs). For me, and I think my family realizes this now, believe it or not I don't understand the stigma of what our family went through being like dirty laundry, or something that is a secret.
To me it's the same as someone who's had cancer, and I more or less wanted to tell Jason not because it was a secret and it was something negative, but I think it was something that I was so proud of that my family was able to go through something so profound and yet come out of it ahead. I think that speaks volumes about the character of out family and how I would deal with stress in a real life situation.
There's something about going through a storm, or dealing with adversity, and turning it into something positive. I hoped that would have said something really positive to Jason about myself and my family.
Reality TV World: Is there any [bachelorette] who you thought was going to go farther on the show who didn't?
Jillian: (Pauses) Let me just think about everybody... Um. One person that I don't think got to show her true colors was [Kari Fajen, a 27-year-old advertising executive from Lee's Summit, MO] and I think that she's just so gorgeous first of all.
She's such a beautiful girl. She's so fit, she's got such a good head on her shoulders, and without the cameras she actually had such a great sense of humor and had a great personality. Unfortunately I don't think Jason got to see that, so that's someone that I thought was I was supervised didn't go as far.
Also in the call, Jillian told reporters why she felt Jason may have developed certain opinions about her personality, whether she would be interested in appearing on The Bachelorette, and how she feels about a recent rumor that The Bachelor's "shocking" ending will feature Jason proposing to one of his final two bachelorettes but then dumping her for the other bachelorette he previously rejected.
It seemed like your relationship had started to progress from being great friends to more after the overnight date in New Zealand, why do you think Jason never felt that your relationship would ever go beyond friendship?
Jillian: (Laughs) I think that's the million dollar question! I feel the same way, I felt like we had so many different levels that our relationship had reached, from being friends to being great partners to really understanding each other. Then in New Zealand we sort of reached that spark and that level we were both looking for, so I'm not sure why he thought it wasn't going to be there. I mean there's all sorts of things that my friends and family have told me: "Maybe he couldn't keep up with you," or "Maybe you need somebody with a little bit more depth," or "Maybe he just didn't feel that spark," and if that's the case that's fair enough. Yeah but that's the million dollar question, if you can find out call me back and let me know! (Laughs)
You're a beautiful girl, ever since appearing on the show have you been flooded with offers from guys? Are you dating anyone?
Jillian: Well thank you very much for the compliment, first off. I have not been dating at all, I think it's just a little bit overwhelming to get it all in, and to try and get your head screwed on back straight and kinda figure out what happened back there. For me, I think I needed a little bit of time to get back to the "Headstrong Jill."
I've had a few calls for sure, but nothing too crazy, nothing I can't handle yet.
You said in the episode that you were beginning to fall in love with Jason. In hindsight, do you still think the same way?
Jillian: I think naturally when you are rejected, for lack of a better word, I try to find reasons why he would do what he did or reasons why we may not have worked. It just sort of helps me cope. And so, I would say on a scale of one-to-ten would he be a ten for what I'm looking for? Maybe not. But out of all the men that I have dated in my life he possessed the most qualities that i was looking for.
And so I still love him, but I don't think I'm in love with him any more, I think that you have to heal yourself and I wish the very best for him. I think you just have to get over it, move on, and it's like any other breakup and hope for the best for the person.
How did you feel about Jason's concern that you might be too independent or too strong for him?
Jillian: I guess it threw me back a little bit to hear him say that, and even to see it on TV. It's something that I always thought was the most attractive about me was that I worked so hard to pay my own bills and to support myself. I did realize from watching the show that, moving forward, it's okay for me to let my guard down and it's okay for me to look for somebody that wants to take care of me. So I've learned a lot about myself during this adventure, and that's one thing I have learned.
But I am independent and I am strong and that's kinda the person I am. I just need to find someone who's maybe a little stronger than me and can handle it.
As far as your hot dog theory goes, do you feel like you need to re-work it a little more, or do you wish that Jason had maybe thrown some relish on there?
Jillian: No, actually I still stand by my theory. I think my theory is a little bit more complicated than I initially thought, but Jason may be having some hot dog topping denial. I don't think he's a sauerkraut, I don't think he's that kind of guy, but he actually has a little bit of ketchup in him -- a little bit of a ketchup-mustard -- and I need a little bit of a sauerkraut-mustard... If that makes sense. If you know the hot dog theory you'll understand.
As far as the fantasy suite in New Zealand, can you tell us more about that? Did you spend the whole night with Jason?
Jillian: Yeah I did. Jason and I obviously had a great time in the hot tub. I've said before, Jason and I had a great, great conversation, and it was really great to have a lot of off-camera time with him and to be able to chat about the things we weren't able to chat about on-camera.
I thought that would have solidified things in his mind of whether I was the one or not based on those conversations, and maybe it did, But yeah it was great to be able to have that time to chat with him.
Where did Jason get this idea that you were a really strong woman?
Jillian: Well what happened [during the group date to the General Hospital set] was I think all the girls had a lot of anxiety seeing him kiss other girls, and I had [a wonderful conversation while at the General Hospital set] so I was on top of the world.
When we got to the restaurant, everyone was drinking quite a bit and we were starting to have a lot of fun, but it was the first real sign that a lot of the girls were getting a lot of anxiety about him and about the situation. Just because of the way I am, I have no problem breaking down as long as I know someone else is around that really can support me, but I think a lot of the girls were having a tough time that night, and we saw that Melissa cried and we saw that Naomi Crespo, a 24-year-old flight attendant from Carlsbad, CA] had a tough time with it, and we saw [Lauren, a 27-year-old teacher from Malboro, NJ] demanding a rose and [Shannon Bair, a 29-year-old dental hygienist from Marshall, MO] crying.
So when Jason wasn't talking to the girls, I was telling the girls "It's okay," and "This is gonna be tough," and I was one of the only ones who didn't cry, I think there was a few other girls who didn't cry. I think I wanted to, but I was overjoyed by my conversation and my day with Jason that I didn't feel the need to get emotional, and I think he came up to me at one point and [asked if I was okay] and I was like "I'm fine. Everybody's having a tough time with this."
So I think he just saw that I didn't get emotional that day and I think that's what he was referring to.
Tell us something we'd be surprised about regarding Molly and Melissa.
Jillian: Something that you would be surprised about the final two women... (Pauses) Honestly, I think you guys got to know them as much as I did. I mean I keep on saying this even though I've become excellent friends [with Melissa] throughout it, I'll tell you something that you'll be surprised. If Melissa was the winner, she and I would be friends and I would be a part of their life. That is a surprise.
Other than that I think they're both great, wonderful girls and I wish them both happiness and I can't wait to see what happens.
The show seems to be giving us some hints of a monkey wrench being thrown in with the arrival of DeAnna Pappas, did you see her while you were there?
Jillian: I can't really comment on that, but she hasn't been shown yet on any of the episodes that I've been in, so I think it's pretty safe to say that no, I did not see her.
How did you get on the show?
Jillian: It's a funny story. I've been a huge fan of the show for years. I've always wondered how the girls could fall in love so quick, but at the same time in the back of my mind I secretly wished for my fantasy fairy tail ending. One day during [The Bachelor: London Calling] when [Matt Grant] proposed to [Shayne Lamas] and of course I had tears in my eyes, I said to my girlfriends "I'm gonna apply for this show."
I really didn't say too much in my application, and I don't know what I said or what I did but they called me right away and before I knew it I was on the show, and now talking to you!
Would you be the next Bachelorette?
Jillian: I think there's some pros and some cons. I guess the biggest thing is that I always wanna protect my family and I really am very serious about finding somebody. I guess I would really have to think about it.
I don't wanna be really famous and I don't really wanna be an actress. I pay my own bills and I guess what I'm trying to say is part of me wants to stop while I'm ahead. I think I did a great job representing myself on [The Bachelor]. But the other part of me really does wanna find somebody, and the other part of me thinks "You know what Jill? You gave it a shot once, now maybe your Prince Charming is right around the corner."
So I don't know. I really would have to think hard about it, and now I'm having all these questions asked to me and its making me think about it more. I'll have to wait and see if anything actually serious pops up, and if they ask me I'll have to have a little conversation with my parents and see what the family says.
There is some information that came out yesterday on a blog that says Jason asks Melissa to marry him, but then dumps Melissa and goes with Molly. No one's saying that's what happens, but do you think Jason would be capable of doing something like that? And based on how close you are with Melissa, how would you be a part of that recovery process if that was the case?
Jillian: Well I don't know very much about these rumors, I've just been hearing them. I don't have time, to be frank to read all the blogs. But I did hear a little bit about it. I pray that that's not true, I would have to wait and see and I hope that it's not true and I don't think Jason is capable of that.
If in fact it is true, than I would just go back and blame it on the fact that this is a very unique situation and puts people in a really tough spot. I hope it's not true, but if it is I will obviously stand by my friends 100%, and also Jason and whoever else is involved. I hope that they all find happiness, even if there is a bump in the road, and we'll just hopefully wait and see.
I still believe that [Jason] is a really genuine character that was truly looking for love. Whether or not it is true, I hope everybody respects his decision and hopefully everything turns out as planned.