By Jennifer Ferrise
Jan 07, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
ABC

Colton Underwood has brought the drama since the moment we met him. First, he was trying to woo Becca Kufrin on The Bachelorette after dating her close pal and Bachelor fan favorite Tia Booth. Then, just weeks after Becca sent him packing, he popped up on Bachelor in Paradise, attempting to rekindle things with Tia before ultimately breaking her heart. Again.

So it’s no surprise that when ABC announced that Underwood would be the one calling the shots on this season of The Bachelor, Bachelor Nation had a few reservations about the 26-year-old former pro football star.   

“I don't think people really know me as well as they think they might,” Underwood tells InStyle. “And I say that because when you look back at my time on the shows, you always see me dealing with a certain situation. On The Bachelorette, I was first dealing with having to bring up Tia and my relationship with her prior to dating Becca. Then, you hear me talk about my virginity, and people thought they understand why I brought that up but they really didn't. And then in Paradise, everyone watched me navigate my relationship with Tia. So now, I’m looking forward to people having a better understanding of who I actually am as a person—a big picture view. You know, I'm not polished all the time and I'm not perfect either, but I’ve never said that I was.”

Underwood says that seeing his ups and downs play out Paradise — no matter how painful — was actually the reason that he knew he was ready to take on the challenge of being the Bachelor.

“Watching it back, I could see how much I grew from that experience and how it continued to help me come into who I am as a person. I realized how good it was for me to spend the time on my personal life. That’s why I am so grateful, excited and humbled to be the Bachelor.

Ahead of tonight’s premiere (airing at 8 p.m. ET on ABC), we caught up with Underwood to talk first impressions, fantasy suites, and his current relationship status with Tia. Read on for our chat.

ABC

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So Colton, how are you feeling now that Bachelor Nation is about to start this journey with you?

Oh, I’m so excited for the premiere. I watch the episodes at the same time that everyone watches them, so I’m ready for it. More than anything, I'm actually interested to see the dynamics in the house because I don't get to know anything about that until the season airs.

Take us back to that first night at the mansion. What qualities were you looking for in the women that stepped out of the limo?

I wanted to keep a very open mind, but I also wanted somebody who really just owned who they were. I don't really care if they fell flat on their face, wore a costume, or had the most extravagant entrance, as long as they had fun with it. I could obviously tell a lot about each person by how they dealt with their entrance. I loved the spontaneity of some of the women.

Would you say that you have a “type”?

I don't think I do. I know that might sound weird, but I love being surprised by someone. I also love being caught off guard and I really love being challenged, so I think those were the three main things that I was looking for.

Did any specific dresses catch your eye that night?

Oh definitely, I pay attention to that. I actually love fashion too. I loved the ball gowns and the ones who went really over the top. I also liked the ones who dressed down a little bit too, a looser dress with a print. From top to bottom, I had an amazing group of women and their style was impeccable.

Was there one girl whose style impressed you the most?

I mean, I think everyone has seen from the previews that there is a sloth, so yeah, maybe the a sloth costume? [laughs] I consider that a style. We had a Cinderella come out of that limo too, so we have a Cinderella gown.

One of the women’s job titles is “Never been kissed." Did you feel pressure to be her first kiss since you knew that?

Yeah, honestly when she told me that I was a little caught off guard. I wasn't expecting it at all. I think you're going to have to watch how it plays out. We shared a lot and we had a lot in common. With my virginity, I've never felt pressure to lose it even though I’m on this show and I know people's perspective of what happens in the fantasy suites. Just because I go into a fantasy suite doesn't mean I'm losing my virginity and I think that's sort of the same with her. Just because she came on a show that has to do with relationships and is dating somebody doesn't mean she had to lose her first kiss.

You're the first Bachelor that is a virgin. Would you be more interested in dating someone who had that in common with you? Is that a conversation that you had with any of the women?

There were conversations about my virginity throughout the season. Obviously if they had questions, I was willing to answer them. I will openly say I was not looking for another virgin though. If they did still have their virginity, of course that was something that we could bond over, which would be great, but it wasn't a deal breaker.

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Was the fantasy suite week something that weighed heavily on you?

Regardless of my virginity or not, the fantasy suite is obviously a big step in any relationship. So of course, there's even more pressure, and of course, the stakes are even higher at that point. I will say that fantasy suites for me was the biggest week throughout the whole entire journey. It was the most pivotal. It was a game-changer.

You recreated The 40-Year-Old Virgin movie poster as a Bachelor promo ad, so it seems like you’re down to poke fun at yourself a bit. But are you ever tired of all of the virgin jokes?

Do I think my virginity is overplayed? And do I think people talk about it too much? Absolutely 100 percent. But I can still laugh about it and have fun with it. I understand people are probably sick of me talking about it or sick of people talking about it in general.

Which former Bachelor do you relate to the most?

The one that I've bonded with the most and the one that I always went to for advice is Ben Higgins. I think you're going to watch that play out on the season because he actually makes a few appearances to just sit and chat with me.

Have you ever met [former Bachelor] Jesse Palmer? Since he was also a pro-football player, I assume you probably would have a lot in common.

You know, I've never spoken to Jesse, but I would definitely be interested to pick his brain.

What surprised you most about being the Bachelor?

I gained a whole new level of perspective and respect for Arie, Becca, Nick and everybody who has gone through this process in their own way and still stays true to themselves.

Is there anything from the season that you're nervous to watch back?

No, I'm really not nervous. I'm excited to watch it all back. I think I stayed true to who I was. The conversations that I had throughout this whole entire process were needed and were right in the moment for every relationship.

Have you spoken to Tia at all since Paradise?

I’ve talked to Tia on the phone since I have left the show. I do consider her a good friend. People might not understand it, but coming off of Paradise, you can still be friends. I value Tia's friendship.

Do you think it's possible for exes to have a long-lasting friendship without it getting weird?

Absolutely. I think any good relationship is built off of a friendship. And I think when the relationship ends, you always have that friendship to fall back on. I know some people might think that's weird or might not want to do that but in this case with Tia, with everybody's opinions being thrown at us, I think only we can understand exactly where we're at and what we had to go through together.

Did your season of The Bachelor go the way that you expected it to?

I had expectations of how the season was going to go and they changed every single day, every single week. Midway through, I didn't know how it was going to end, but that doesn't change what I came there for and what I'm ready for in my life.

Are you happy now?

I'm exactly where I need to be in my life and yeah, I'm happy!

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