It’s been exactly 15 years since Chris Harrison first pulled up to the [original] Bachelor Mansion to host the very first season of The Bachelor. In a interview with Entertainment Weekly celebrating the 15th anniversary of ‘The Bachelor,’ (which happens to be today), Chris discussed some of his memories from that monumental night in his life.
“This was by far the biggest thing I had ever been a part of. This was my big break,” Chris said of that first night.
Unfortunately, because this was Chris’ biggest TV job to date, he wasn’t exactly rolling in the cash back then.
“I just remember being scared to death and pulling up on set in my Nissan Altima that I was driving at the time and my boss, Mike Fleiss, was standing there,” Chris told EW. “I’ll never forget the first words he said to me when I pulled up the first day: He looked at me when I got out and he gave me a hug and he’s like, ‘Okay the host of my show can’t drive a Nissan Altima.’ I said, ‘Well do you realize what you’re paying the host of your show? I can barely afford this.'”
Obviously, ‘The Bachelor’ franchise would go on to become a big hit, but back in 2002, it was a show unlike any other on television, and no one was sure it would work.
“Nothing had ever been done like that before: Survivor had only been on one season and that was it for the reality shows,” Chris said. “There was no template for any of this.”
Here are some of Chris’ other fond memories from his first night in the Bachelor Mansion:
- None of the girls knew who the hell he was.
These days, Chris is as big of a celebrity as the “Bachelor” himself, but back in 2002, Chris remembers that none of the girls vying for original ‘Bachelor’ Alex Michel‘s heart knew why Chris was even there.
“I talked to the girls later and they were like, ‘Wait, who are you?’ No one had ever seen the show, so they were like, ‘Are you another guy? Who are we going to marry and have sex with?’ It was so weird.”
- The Bachelor Mansion that we know and love today was not the original home used for the show.
“It was a house in Malibu,” Chris told EW. “I’d only been in LA a couple years and so to be shooting in Malibu, I was the redneck who had made it. I was so excited.”
- The show was more organic back then, because the producers didn’t intervene as much.
These days, the producers of ‘The Bachelor’ are involved in every decision and event that occurs in the Bachelor Mansion, but back in 2002, Chris says that the producers let things flow more naturally.
“One thing I will say that has evolved over 15 years is our skill set as producers,” Chris (who is now an executive producer of the show) said. “And not just as producers of television but as producers of love and of relationships. We are so much better at facilitating that part of the show and I think that’s why you see so many more successful couples than we had back in the day because the show really is now built to be successful.
“We didn’t have the life experience yet,” he added. “And so now I think we do have that life experience and we really are good at what we do. We’re good at creating these couples and they last.”
- The early exotic dates were kind of lame.
“I would like to apologize to the Bachelors and Bachelorettes that came before the big bank account, when the exotic dates were like driving down to Malibu or going up to San Francisco,” Chris said. “Now we’re in Bora Bora and Thailand and Finland.”
- The first Bachelorette almost had to propose to her fiance.
Trista Rehn served as the show’s first female lead, and, according to Chris, when it came time for her to choose her final suitor (Ryan Sutter), Chris and the producers weren’t sure how the proposal should go, since up until that moment Trista had been in control of the relationship.
“We got to that moment and we thought, wait, who proposes? How does this work?” Chris said. “It was the first Bachelorette ever and she has the power but then we thought a woman still wants to be proposed to and a gentleman should propose…Back then there had to be a discussion of, okay who’s going to get down on one knee: Is it her or is it him? How history could’ve been changed!”