"I learned a lot about myself and what's the harm in giving it a shot," said Jillian Harris, who may not have ultimately won the heart of "The Bachelor" this past season but gets another chance at finding true love when "The Bachelorette" returns Monday on ABC. Talking from Hawaii, where the show is still in production (normally production is over by the time the first episode airs), Harris talked about how she feels about "Bachelor" Jason Mesnick, the debunking of her now-infamous hot dog theory and the best way a man can make the best impression on her.
In response to the fact that executive producer Mike Fleiss revealed that Jillian was not the first choice to be "The Bachelorette," Harris admitted, "I'm comfortable with that. But, in all honesty, obviously there's going to be other people that are considered for this role... but, honestly, I'm just a short little hyper quirky Canadian and I actually don't feel like I fit the mold of the 'Bachelorette' very well. And I was very surprised that they asked me... it makes me feel really happy that [other 'Bachelor' contestants Melissa and Molly] declined."
While Mesnick ruffled the feathers of fans by dumping his chosen Melissa in the "Bachelor" finale for runner-up Molly, Harris didn't offer any ill feeling towards him. "I know how people view him but he followed his heart and he made a huge move and he put his reputation on the line. But it's for love and I feel like, you know, right now [Jason and Molly are] still together and they're still happy. So hopefully they'll prove everybody wrong." In fact, she added, Mesnick helped her make the decision to do "The Bachelorette."
Asked if she'd attend a wedding between Jason and Molly if it were to happen and Harris said, "I feel like if ["The Bachelorette"] goes the way I want it to go and I am in the romantic place that I want to be I think I would go for sure. I can't imagine me showing up to their wedding solo. But yes, I would go if I find what I'm looking for, I would go and I don't know why that makes a difference but I'm just being honest, that's how I feel. I would have a hard time showing up solo but if I find someone I'll go."
Moving on to her current experience as "The Bachelorette," Harris admitted "The Bachelor" taught her a thing or two in terms of how to pick the man who gets closer to winning her heart in the competition. "Oh, I've learnt my lesson. I do not rate the guys. But they're all very different. And they all make me feel differently, but I can tell you that they are wonderful guys, and I think I've made some really, really great choices." She also said it was important to "Just to be open and vulnerable and to be myself. And by being myself it doesn't mean that I'm always making the right decisions or always reacting the way I would hope. But being yourself means, you know, you're tired and you haven't slept, you know, in eight days. And you're juggling 15, 16, 20 guys and you break down and you cry or whatever being yourself, just be yourself. And do deal with the situation as it comes and try to have fun whenever you can."
In the premiere episode, Harris begins with a record number 30 bachelors. One of the contestants, Brian, literally swoops Harris off her feet. Was being that aggressive a turn-on or a turn-off for her? "I thought it made a good impression, I mean I think it was really cute and it was outgoing and he was taking a big risk in trying to stand out... as far as first impressions are concerned as long as a guy isn't rude or negative. Then you're making a good impression whatever you're trying to do."
Jillian also discussed having a checklist in your head for who your mate should be and how she incorporated that into her decision making. "There are the guys that I would keep because they're exactly what I want on paper. But maybe they don't make me feel the way I should. And then there are the guys that make me feel the way I should but they're nothing of what I wanted on paper. And, you know, it's definitely confusing but I have for sure surprised myself. But with the feelings that I have with, you know, the guys that are left are really the ultimate goal. So I have had to kind of throw that piece of paper away."
The 'hot dog theory' came up during "The Bachelor" when Jillian talked about how she picked men based on what they put on their hot dogs. Did she employ the same theory when picking guys in the current competition? "These guys give me a run for my money and they're not buying the whole hot dog thing. I've tried to play the hot dog thing on them but they're not buying it. So we've had a little bit of fun with it and they all definitely know what my favorite foods are by now. And they know why I love mustard and I love hot dogs. But other than that it hasn't. I don't think I'll be the hot dog girl this season."
Currently in Hawaii shooting the series, Harris said that the beautiful island definitely lends itself to the romantic situations she's encountering with the contestants but she has her ways of trying to remain grounded enough to make decisions of the heart. "I feel like when I'm in this beautiful place - because you are getting swept off your feet - it's harder to think about reality... I'll go up to my room and shut all the curtains. And think to myself who do I see coming through the door after a long day of work? After being married for 25 years? Who do I see comforting me after, you know, I lose somebody down the road? Or who do I see on my wedding day or just those normal those fixing my tire when it's broken." Ultimately, the setting may be breathtaking but, she said, "I'm a very cautious person with all this I take it very seriously. So I'm sort of like 'okay, put the palm trees and beauty and the coconuts and my ties aside.' Just look at the person just for who they are."
Whether she finds love or not on "The Bachelorette," Harris is glad that one good thing has already materialized out of the experience. "I think I'm even realizing more who I am and what sort of qualities I have to give. And what qualities I'm looking for and I get to make those calls. And I get to make those shots... I feel like I've been really open and really honest and sometimes too honest. And I've really encouraged the guys to do the same thing. And I feel like I've had a really open mind with all the guys, you know, somebody tells me something that's really surprising and really shocking. As long as they are honest and as long as they're trying to put themselves out there. There's nothing bad you could say. So I think that's what I love about doing it this time is that I'm writing the story. And I think it's a lot of fun."
"The Bachelorette" returns with a two-hour premiere this Monday at 9:00/8:00c on ABC.