Chantal O’Brien: “Brad Was Downplaying What We Had”
Chantal O’Brien is completely over Brad Womack. “I do feel like I’m in a space I need to be,” Chantal told reporters on The Bachelor Season 15 post-finale conference call. “So I almost feel like I should be thanking him for the decisions that were made.”
Chantal, 28, was on the call from New York City, where she had taped an earlier appearance on Live With Regis & Kelly. The runner-up talked about her tears during the “After the Final Rose” special; her “super supportive” new boyfriend back home in Seattle; how she was as shocked as everyone else when hearing about Brad and Emily Maynard’s relationship problems; her take on Ashley Hebert as The Bachelorette; and her reaction to the false spoilers that had her as Brad’s fiancee for most of the season.
When Brad started telling you it wasn’t you during the Final Rose Ceremony, what was going through your head at that moment?
Chantal O’Brien: At that point I was just trying to tell myself to not cry and not freak out — and as you can see it took a lot! I was just really trying to hold myself together.
What was your family’s reaction when they saw it wasn’t you in the end?
My family was pretty shocked. When they met Brad they definitely had the feeling that he would be perfect for me. And my dad wouldn’t have given his blessing had he not thought that. So I think everyone was a little surprised at the outcome.
What can you tell us about your new guy? And why were you crying about Brad during the “After the Final Rose”?
The reason I was crying in the “After” is because, what you didn’t see is I had just seen the letdown for the first time. So I was more crying at seeing myself cry! Yeah, you heard me say a little bit at the “After” that I am seeing someone new and I can tell you that he’s great and super supportive and has not been watching the show. So that’s a bonus!
What about the rumors out there that you are pregnant?
Oh wow. Well, unfortunately I can’t say that my weight gain was due to that. So, no, not at this time.
Were you surprised to hear about the problems that Emily and Brad were having?
Yeah, I actually was really shocked. And honestly I had no idea until watching along with you guys last night, ‘cause I had been kept in a separate room so I didn’t see their filming. So I was very surprised.
As far as advice to them — you know you’re in this bubble and everyone’s looking at you, what advice would you give to them?
I think just to tune out everything except for their relationship is really going to be key, because obviously they feel something special toward each other. I think they just need to move on and try to be as normal as possible.
How did you feel when you heard that Emily was not ready to marry Brad, since you had always said you were ready to get married right away?
Emily and I are very different people, so I wouldn’t expect her to necessarily look at the situation the same way I do. And I’ve also been married before so I’ve gone through that. I can’t even begin to relate to where she’s coming from right now, considering everything they’ve gone through in the tabloids and having to watch him with other girls. So it’s really too hard to compare the two.
What advice do you have for future bachelorettes?
The biggest advice I can give to future bachelorettes is to just go into this with an open heart and an open mind and not be scared of being vulnerable and having real emotions.
Do you think Emily and Brad will make it? They’re under so much pressure now.
Yeah, I really don’t know what will happen with them. I’m not privy to their relationship and what goes on. I like to think that it will work out because he has strong feelings for her, as you can see, but who knows what will happen. We can only just hope for the best for them.
Did you get to talk to them at all at the “After the Final Rose” ceremony?
I didn’t. I was kept completely separate from everybody that was there.
As the runner-up you were in a prime position to be the next Bachelorette. Would you have done the show if you were not currently dating someone?
I definitely would’ve loved to do the show, had I not been in a relationship. I think it’s an amazing opportunity and I feel [I was real] about wanting to find that person to spend your life with. It’s definitely a different way of doing it, but I believe it can work.
Had you already had discussions and agreed to the role, but this relationship came along? Can you elaborate on how your relationship came about?
It was really never an option to do The Bachelorette because of the fact that I was in a relationship. And my relationship came about very unplanned. It was something where I met this person through a mutual friend and it completely caught me by surprise, but it was obviously a very good surprise.
You were very emotional on the “After the Final Rose” show. What are your feelings for Brad now?
The best way I can answer the question is, I went into this experience completely open and honest and, you know, a lot of time has passed since what everybody saw in South Africa. And I am completely over Brad, but going back and watching the tape it was emotional because I was reminded of what I was feeling at that time, how crushed I felt and how hopeless I felt thinking “Am I ever going to meet someone?” So a lot of my emotions that came out were really about me thinking “God, how horrible of a place I was in at that moment.” And that’s what really affected me. And also what you saw with Brad was just wanting to feel like I wasn’t the only one who had emotions. I wanted to make sure we both felt like there was something during that journey.
One of Emily’s biggest complaints last night was watching the Final Rose Ceremony and Brad talking to you, she felt that even though he was telling you goodbye, she felt there were more emotions. Were there other things that he said to you that maybe we missed in the edited version?
No, I think you pretty much got a good idea of what I got.
You were emotional on the “After the Final Rose,” especially when Brad gave an evasive answer about when he knew you weren’t the one. How do you feel about that today? Do you feel like you got your closure or when you think about it are you angry?
There’s no part of me that’s angry. I feel like at that time I was just more surprised by his answer — it wasn’t what I was expecting to hear, so I was a little caught off guard. But in all honesty, I do feel like I’m in a space I need to be, so I almost feel like I should be thanking him for the decisions that were made.
How do you feel about Ashley as the next Bachelorette?
I think Ashley is going to be awesome. She’s definitely going to have that spunky personality and have a ton of energy. So, if anything, I think those guys are going to need to step up their game to keep up with her.
There were faulty spoilers out there for most of the season that Brad had picked you and not Emily. Were you aware of those rumors online? Did people talk to you about them?
Oh I was very aware. I even was getting congratulation notices from people!
Did you think that was funny or was it hurtful at the time? How did you feel about it?
It happened really fast so it was hard at the beginning, you know, congratulations from people. But I think it kind of made me get a thick skin really fast which is definitely something I needed to get through the rest of the season.
Emily clearly got upset watching Brad’s relationship with the other women, especially you. If Brad had picked you, do you think you would’ve handled the situation differently?
You know, I give Emily a lot of props because I think being in that situation is really tough. No matter — even if you know that that’s what this is going into it, it’s completely different to experience it. So I can’t say that I would’ve at all handled it better. It would’ve been really difficult for me to see his interactions with her, or any of the other ladies for that matter.
You seemed to get frustrated during the “After the Final Rose” when Brad said you deserved to be in the final two and that’s why you were there, as opposed to Brad really wanting you to be there because he was falling for you. Did you have that feeling on the show, that he was already falling for Emily he just wanted you to stick around, or were you convinced that Brad returned the strong feelings you had for him?
I was 100 percent convinced that Brad had strong enough feelings for me that he would propose to me at the end. Had I thought at any point that it was not that, I would’ve just packed my bags and gone home. And that’s why I said over and over again, “Hey, if you’re not feeling me, then please send me home.” Because there was no reason for me to be there just to be there.
Do you think that Brad was just downplaying his feelings for you to not upset Emily?
Yes, I definitely think that Brad was downplaying what we had. I think it’s pretty undeniable when you watch the show, what we had, and that it was special and that we definitely had great chemistry and that he did have feelings for me. But I think that he’s probably in a tough situation right now.
At what point during the Final Rose Ceremony with Brad did you realize this was not going the way you hoped it would go?
Pretty much as soon as the conversation started. It didn’t seem like it was going off the way I had expected it to be. It wasn’t like I was necessarily hoping for some big closure, but I did expect for him to at least acknowledge that there was something there, and from the get-go I didn’t seem to get that from him.
You touched on this earlier, but you had been so clear the whole time that if he didn’t feel the same way he should send you home. Is that part of your biggest frustration in how things ended?
You know, at this point I’m not frustrated at all. What you saw, yeah, it was frustrating. It made me sad because it made me feel like “Gosh I really put myself out there and have been open. Please don’t just tell me it was you just leading me on.” But I don’t believe that that’s what it is. So that’s why I’m not upset and frustrated about it.