'The Bachelor' star Arie Luyendyk Jr. -- ABC explains why he was picked over Peter Kraus
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/08/2017
The Bachelor picked the perfect leading man in Arie Luyendyk Jr. for the 2018 edition of the show, according to ABC reality programming executive Robert Mills.
"The timing seems right," Robert toldEntertainment Tonight on Thursday. "He's incredibly sincere. He's dated a lot of women since [Emily Maynard], but he says he's never been in love since Emily, and that's a really interesting story to try to bring to completion this season on The Bachelor."
"[Arie] was the pick because we met with him, like we do every season, we met with several guys, and it's really about timing. I mean, I could make a case for almost every guy we meet with, and some years it's right, some years it's not," Robert told ET in light of reports Eric Bigger, Chase McNary, Wells Adams, Ben Zorn and more suitors were also in the running.
"Arie is somebody we actually talked to all the way back, you know, when he was the runner-up on Emily's season. And, you know, I don't think the right time was then. This year, we met with Arie, and he's really built a life for himself in Arizona. He still does the race car driving thing, but he's also built a very big business in real estate."
Robert said Arie, who turns 36 years old later this month, is ready to share his life with somebody.
"I think that will definitely be his compelling narrative, that he has not been in love since Emily, that he truly was in love with Emily. We're going to try to get his season out there for people to see, and there was something on After the Final Rose, where he said he's gone to Emily's house afterwards -- we had never seen before -- and it wasn't like, 'Oh, let me have the cameras come in,'" Robert revealed to ET.
"He went by himself without telling anybody, and saw her and met with her. He really was head over heels in love with this woman. I mean, he realizes that she's married and he's happy for her. You know, she's about to have her third kid with her new husband. So he's happy for her, but it's been hard getting over it."
Many fans have been wondering why, if the Bachelor couldn't be Peter, ABC selected such a throwback contestant over other possibilities currently in the spotlight.
"It wasn't by design. It was simply, Arie is in the right place in his life to find somebody. He really has a life to go back to. He wants kids. He wants what Emily has," Robert explained. "He's in that place. We talked to people, we talked about people from Rachel's season, from [JoJo Fletcher]'s season. I don't think there was anyone who was as ready for this as Arie is."
With Arie's casting, however, came some serious backlash from Bachelor Nation on social media. Does that mean ABC made a mistake since Arie is a polarizing choice for the role?
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"What we are seeing is more passion for this announcement than ever. I've seen a ton of 'I haven't been this excited in forever,' 'This feels like a real throwback Bachelor,' 'This is a real man,' and then a lot for 'I'll never watch the show again,' 'How can you do this to us?' and they're both great reactions, to be honest," Robert reasoned with ET.
"Certainly, I'd imagine whether you love or hate this decision, if you care enough to weigh in, you're going to at least watch the beginning, and that's all we can ask, and it's on us to make a great season that keeps you there, and hopefully by word of mouth it brings new people in."
Robert noted that he has worked on seasons of The Bachelor franchise for over 10 years, and at times, "nobody cared" about the casting selection.
"Apathy is the worst thing for any TV show, but certainly for this one, I'm glad that people care," Robert insisted.
"I think the great thing with Arie is he has a great sense of humor... If you hate Arie, you say, 'He's a lesser version of Peter,' or 'Oh my god, he's old. I don't remember him. He's got gray hair!' He's going to take that in stride. He gets it. He's in on the joke, so I think that's going to serve him well as the Bachelor."
When the announcement of Arie's The Bachelor participation was made Thursday on Good Morning America, Arie revealed his casting was extremely last minute.
Arie wasn't even sure whether he should believe the opportunity was really happening, so he opted not to share the news with family and friends until it was official.
"We can move pretty nimbly. This came together quick. Like any contestant on any reality TV show, he passed all his background checks and everything else. He's an upstanding citizen," Robert said, adding that Arie is also "sincerely dreamy."
"All the right people were in the room when we met with him and we all deemed him sincere, and he's easy on the eyes and charming, and the decision can be made quickly when it all comes together like that."
Robert admitted there were some potential The Bachelor contestants who decided they weren't interested in competing upon discovering Arie was the Bachelor over Peter, but the ABC executive seems to think that's completely normal.
"You do see some fallout, yes, absolutely. That's why we like to get [the announcement] out as early as possible. You don't want someone who doesn't know or want the Bachelor. Part of the reason it's gotten so much better when we use people from past cycles is that before they were just meeting them cold the first night," Robert told ET.
"A lot of times it wouldn't work because they were feigning interest. So this season is going to be much more real. I think that's why you see the couples last much more."
And Robert gushed about how women are "coming out of the woodwork" to try to date Arie at the same time.
"We're vetting people very quickly. There's a lot of people who assumed it might be Peter, and their age range is somewhat similar. There's a lot of similarities between Peter and Arie, so I think a lot of thew women who applied are going to be happy with Arie. So it's going to be great," he noted.