Exclusive: Ben Castoriano talks Ashley Hebert and 'The Bachelorette'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/27/2011
The Bachelorette bachelor Ben Castoriano was ready to continue vying for Ashley Hebert's affection with a positive attitude and hopeful spirit despite having some doubts about his chemistry with Bachelorette, but the two-on-one date he was required to share with fellow bachelor William Holman came crashing down on him quickly.
William pulled Ashley aside not long into the date during last Monday night's episode and warned her Ben had allegedly made comments in the house suggesting he was going to take advantage of online dating websites upon his return home from the show and "clean up" when it came to his future dating endeavors with women.
Without giving Ben the benefit of the doubt and asking him to explain the situation, Ashley took William's information to heart and immediately sent him home, denying Ben the date's rose. However, Ashley later insisted there were additional factors that led to her decision, such as how she believed they had not formed the strong connection she was anticipating.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Ben talked about his The Bachelorette experience -- including what his side of the story entailed and how he claims the online dating discussion with the other bachelors really played out, whether he felt it was apparent he was joking about his interest in dating websites, how he reacted to William's "betrayal," what indication led him to believe his feelings weren't strong for Ashley after all, and why he thought his brutally succinct post-elimination conversation with Ashley was poorly edited.
Reality TV World: When I talked to William last week he said he regretted throwing you "under the bus" during your two-on-one date with Ashley, but stood by the accuracy of what he'd told her and said you'd told the guys you were going to be able to "clean up" on some dating websites after the show was over. Was that really the case, or could you confirm what you actually said and then talk a little bit about the conversation that took place?
Ben Castoriano: You mean the conversation that he thinks he overheard?
Reality TV World: Yes, I suppose so.
Ben Castoriano: Yeah, well I think I said this in something that was aired that may have ended up in a deleted scene or something when I was talking to Ashley about it afterwards, but it's pretty simple. It's not that complicated. I think William apparently overheard something, but everything you heard were just jokes between the guys -- some typical locker room banter.
William mentioned, at least on the show, that Ashley said, "Well, why would Ben share that with you?" And William said, "Oh, you know the guys, we kind of opened up to each other." What I'll say is it's true that the guys opened up to each other, but I feel like I didn't really open up to William.
I would joke around with the other guys and we all would joke around with each other, and William was apparently eavesdropping and suffered the consequences that comes with eavesdropping -- which is to misunderstand what you're hearing.
In reality, I think that he understood that everything he was hearing was a complete joke, but ultimately decided to take that to Ashley as being serious, because he was looking for a way to gain some type of advantage on our two-on-one date.
Reality TV World: Do you think it was clear and obvious that you were just joking, or do you think there's any way William could have legitimately thought you were being serious?
Ben Castoriano: I don't think there's any way William could have thought I was serious. I think that if William -- I think William knew I was joking, but if anything, what he understood from the fact that I was even joking around was that I was questioning a little bit my connection with Ashley.
So, I think that was more what he was trying to point out to her -- was if he had been more -- if he had really stated the truth, I guess what he would have said to her would have been, "Ashley, Ben jokes around in the house with the other guys. He made jokes to the other guys, and I think that the fact that he's joking means he might not be -- he might be questioning his connection with you."
If William had told her the full extent of what he was hearing me say in the house however, he also would have told her that I was still hoping and optimistic for having some kind of connection with her, and that I hadn't given up yet, and that I was staying open until the very end to see if there was something there.
I was sincere right up until the end, and he overheard some random joking. I don't even know what overheard because I wasn't even talking to him. I was talking to my friends -- to the other guys -- so I don't even really know what he overheard.
I was completely blindsided by him coming forward with that, but to this day, I also don't think that he realized that she was going to walk right over to me and end the date and not really give me a chance to explain.
Reality TV World: You seemed to be pretty shocked when Ashley eliminated you right after she had a little talk with William. What was going through your mind at that point and what were your feelings toward William at that time? Have your feelings towards him changed since time has elapsed and you've been watching the show at home?
Ben Castoriano: Well, what's interesting is that when she told me that I figured William had told her something, but I actually didn't know -- because I'd never even spoken to William about anything like that or even joked with him about that, because him and I weren't close friends, that was the part of me that was in shock.
I didn't know how he would have even heard something -- me talking or saying anything -- because we weren't talking that much in the house.
So, I was kind of surprised that he thought he had anything to share about me, but to be honest with you, I knew that Ashley and I both needed to take a close look at whether there was something there on the two-on-one date, and so while I was in shock, I think that she ultimately probably made the right decision and I told her that anything he heard was a complete joke.
But it might be true that the fact that I was joking around was an indication about how intense my feelings were for her, and so to be fair, maybe it was the right time for us to part ways and for her to focus on guys who were having very strong feelings for her.
Reality TV World: Chris Harrison has said that your final post-elimination conversation with Ashley was edited poorly and it wasn't as sudden and quick as shown and you two had actually talked things through more than what was shown. So can you elaborate on what you told her when she asked you about the dating website comments and how that final conversation really played out?
Ben Castoriano: I think what Chris is saying is somewhat true. Basically, it's what I just told you. I told Ashley, "I don't need to know what anyone thinks they've heard. All I know is that occasionally, guys joke around together and apparently, William has decided to take something that was an obvious joke and tell it to you as serious."
And then she said, "Well, I don't like the fact that you even joked about that." And I said, "Well, you know, Ashley you might be right. The fact that I was even joking about anything -- about dating in the future after the show -- might have been an indication that my feelings weren't as strong as other people's feelings were, and there was maybe something amidst our connection.
And then she said, "Well yeah, I guess that means it's probably time to say goodbye," and I said, "I agree. I think your making -- in the long run -- your making the right decision." As I said when I was there, I think it was a sad way for it to end. It was a shame. It was tainted by somebody doing something that wasn't so nice to someone that thought he was something of a friend.
But ultimately, I think that she made the right decision. It's just -- I think I was one of the guys in the house who was acutely aware throughout the process that there are 25 guys who start the process and 24 of those guys are going to return to their dating lives after the show, and we have a lot of time to think about our relationships with Ashley, which was a big part of what we talked about.
But we also had time to discuss what we are looking for in women, whether Ashley has those qualities that we're looking for, and the fact that 24 of us are going to go back to dating after the show, and I think that William and I may have kind of differed in that sense.
I didn't start the show and tell myself that whoever the girl, I would have to find a way of convincing myself that that's going to be the one for me. If that was going to happen, I wanted that to happen naturally. I think that'd be a healthy way for that to happen.
I very much took note when William came back from his one-on-one date and said it was the best date he's ever had -- it was the best date that he would ever have, in fact -- I remember thinking to myself after my one-on-one date with her that I had a great time and I really enjoyed the date and I had a blast with Ashley, but I did not feel the same way that William felt.
But I tried to remain hopeful and optimistic that something could grow with Ashley until the end, and you know, I guess what happened with William just kind of brought things to light and I think things happen for a reason. All is for the best in the end.
Reality TV World: A two-on-one date seems like a great opportunity for one man to sabotage his competition by lying or ruin his chances by using any knowledge he's acquired against him. So did it surprise you that Ashley just seemed to take William's word for it and ran with his warning without checking the facts or doubting whether he was actually telling the truth, and if so, were you a little disappointed in how Ashley handled the situation?
Ben Castoriano: I was a little bit surprised that she made -- I was a little surprised that she made the decision to send me home before talking to me about it. However, I'm glad that we did have a chance to have a small conversation about it as I was leaving, but I think Ashley and I both knew that there was something missing from our connection.
So I think that it's true that what William said about what he thinks he heard or what he passed onto her was not the reason that I went home. I think that ultimately, Ashley understood what I was saying when I said that I was joking around and she could tell that I'm genuine. I think I am a genuine person and I came across that way, I think, in our final moments.
She realized that I was being genuine with her and that I had tried to be optimistic as much as I could about our connection, and I had taken it seriously. But someone decided to tell her that he heard me joking around and that kind of brought things to light and made us both realize that it was time for us to part ways.
Reality TV World: Why do you think Ashley chose you and William to go on the two-on-one date together, do you have any insight? Because it seemed like you and Ashley had a great one-on-one date.
Ben Castoriano: Yeah, Ashley and I had a great one-on-one date. It's hard for me to answer that because I can't speak for her connections with other guys throughout the show.
I really did try to present myself like a gentleman and stay out of her relationships with the other men, and I felt like if Ashley and I were going to have something, it would be on the strength of our relationship and nothing would be achieved by discussing her relationships with other men.
I think that she and I both knew going into the two-on-one date that there might have been a little something missing, and so I think it's pretty simple. I think that's the reason I was on the two-on-one date -- was because she and I realized that it was decision time for whether it was worth continuing to pursue something.
So, she wanted to put me in a situation where she could spend a little bit more time with me on the two-on-one and we could make a decision.
Reality TV World: Chris Harrison also said that Ashley wasn't in a good place during the two-on-one date and wasn't up for fighting for either you or William. He also said that Ashley was in such a bad mood that he felt neither J.P. or Ben F. -- who currently seem to be frontrunners -- would've even survived that date. What's your reaction to that and do you think you were maybe unfairly eliminated because Ashley didn't have the motivation to give you the benefit of the doubt and was just -- to quote Chris -- in a "cranky" mood?
Ben Castoriano: Ashley may have been in a mood where things were tough for her because of who knows what, but either way, I think that -- I believe that things only happen for a reason. The fact that I may have made some jokes in the house was a good litmus test for whether I had strong feelings for Ashley.
The fact that her mood on that particular date could mean that she's ready to send me home was probably a good test of her feelings for me, and also for William, because she sent him home too. So, I don't think that I was eliminated unfairly in that sense. I think that if Ashley and I had the right connection, then neither her mood or anything else would have been a deciding factor in that decision.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Ashley eliminated William on the two-on-one date as well? I know you touched on it a little bit, but did you see that coming beforehand at all?
Ben Castoriano: I really had no idea what was going to happen with the two of them. I felt ultimately a bit betrayed by William, and I felt like Ashley and I weren't really right for each other. So, at that point, I kind of just decided to let it go and let their relationship play out. Like I said on the show, I didn't think that William would probably end up being her husband, but that was her decision to make and not mine.
Reality TV World: You made it clear to Ashley during your one-on-one date that you have very high expectations for your relationship with the woman you plan to marry. Looking back at it now after seeing it on TV, do you think you might have come across a little strong and that might have scared her away after she thought about it more, or would you do everything the same exact way if you could do it all over again?
Ben Castoriano: That was me on the show and I was honest with her -- with Ashley -- and if I could do it again, I wouldn't change myself. I think that it's important for people to be themselves when they're dating so that they can figure out whether there's something there.
I do think that Ashley and I were different and when we were on that date, when I was telling her my views about relationships, I kind of had a deep gut sense that maybe we weren't connecting on that level.
I am rather idealistic about relationships and it's something that I like about myself and it's something that makes me a little different, and I don't think that we shared that. I think that Ashley and I could be friends, but I don't think that we had the same views -- exactly the same views -- with love.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jeff Medolla a few weeks ago, he felt only three or four guys were really into Ashley. Do you agree with that, and if so, which bachelors do you believe were the ones who did have strong feelings for Ashley?
Ben Castoriano: I think that's one misconception that keeps coming up over and over again. The thing about this whole process is that a line is drawn between these guys who are reportedly very interested and then other guys who aren't interested and are there for other reasons.
I think in reality, the vast majority of the guys on the show were interested in Ashley and were in different places in their relationships with her -- they were on different tracks in their relationships with her -- but in their own ways, they were trying to see if there was something there, and didn't get a chance.
I think that some people did have stronger feelings for her than others, that's true, but I think there's a lot of gray area there. I think that I wouldn't say there were only three or four guys that had feelings and the rest didn't.
I would say that there was a wide spectrum of feelings for Ashley and with the various connections that she was having with people. So, I wouldn't agree that there were only three or four guys that were actually interested in her. I would say that there were some people who were more interested in her than other people were.
Reality TV World: What were your impressions of Bentley Williams while you were on the show and how have your feelings changed about him since you've seen him make all the horrible comments about Ashley and all the guys in the house while watching from home?
Ben Castoriano: You know, Bentley seemed like a decent guy when he was around. For the short period of time he was around, he seemed like a decent guy. No one had any major issue, I don't think, with Bentley. He didn't really make any trouble with anybody.
He seemed friendly enough. I have the same policy about Bentley that I did about the other guys, which is that I didn't really get involved with his relationship with Ashley or give it too much thought, to be honest.
So, of course like everybody else, I'm surprised of what I'm seeing of his comments, but I take everything with a grain of salt a little bit. I think that -- it's really hard for me to comment. I really have no better information than the next guy when it comes to Bentley.
Reality TV World: Looking at it personally from your perspective then, if you had been in Hong Kong when Bentley returned, what would have been your reaction? Would you have felt defeated and consider leaving the show or how would you have approached the situation knowing she felt strongly for Bentley? It seems like the guys got really upset based on previews for tonight's episode.
Ben Castoriano: Yeah, I think that if after the two-on-one date I remained, I think it would have bothered me if I had been having a strong connection with Ashley and she was still consumed by someone else in her thoughts. I think at that stage if I was spending more time with her and if I had been on more dates with her, if someone else was still consuming her thoughts like that, then it would have bothered me.
I would have had to have a serious conversation with her about where we stand and what might be lacking in our connection -- what's not there between us that is there between you and somebody else. I wouldn't have been mad, I can say that.
I don't think that getting angry is the way to resolve that. I just thought it would be decision time and if that was a reflection on us not having a connection, then yeah, it might be time to go home not on bad terms, but just because the connection isn't there.
Reality TV World: What was your impression of Ames Brown while you were on the show? Some viewers have said he's grown on them and Ashley obviously saw something in him to have kept him around this long. But do you feel she actually had a romantic connection with him or do you think she hesitated to eliminate him because he was such a nice guy and got the concussion, maybe acquiring a little sympathy from Ashley?
Ben Castoriano: I really can't speak to Ashley's connection with Ames. All I know is that personally, I think on a personal friend level, I think that Ames is a really nice guy.
I think he's got a lot going for him and although I don't really know how Ashley felt about him, and I can't speak to that, I think that she saw some good qualities in him and I'd like to think that that's the reason he's still around and vying for her love.