Bachelorette Jillian Harris swore she'd never do television again, but as soon as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Sun, 8/7c, ABC) came knocking, she immediately went back on her word. As a restaurant designer, Harris fit right in with the crew, hanging up pictures and even digging out trenches. The now-engaged former Bachelorette spoke to TVGuide.com about how EM:HE revitalized her spirit, what it was like to see ex Jason Mesnick marry, how her own wedding plans are coming along, and what she really thinks about current Bachelor Jake choosing Vienna.
TVGuide.com: How did you get involved with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?
Jillian Harris: When I got done with The Bachelorette, it was back to the grindstone, back to my design business. Ed [Swiderski] and I were starting to plan our lives and I got a call asking if I wanted to do an appearance on the show. I flipped out. That is when you literally hold your chest and think how can I be so lucky to get an opportunity like this? I filmed the show in October and here we are.
TVGuide.com: Were you able to get down and dirty with the boys?
Harris: Are you kidding me? I don't know how much they had planned on me being involved, but I wanted to be part of everything. I was digging out trenches, using nail guns, I helped with the demo, I was doing Merrit's room, even on the day of the move-in I was running around making sure pictures were getting hung up in the right spot. Who knows if I'll ever to do it again, so I really wanted to enjoy every minute of it and help as much as I could.
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TVGuide.com: What did you take away from the EM:HE experience?
Harris: I get emotional talking about it, but after a year-and-a-half of falling in love on national television, getting my heart broken, going back for more, then getting engaged, and then going through that whole tabloid storm, I'm embarrassed to say this, but I became a bit numb. I think everyone knows that I'm a very positive person and I have a huge heart, but I felt like I was sort of zombie-ing around for awhile like, "What the heck just happened?" After appearing on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, it just brought the old Jill back. It reminded me of how big my heart is, how much energy I have, how much I want to give back, how much I want to continue to inspire those around me. So it really, truly defined the word "profound" for me.
TVGuide.com: Has The Bachelorette enabled you to become more involved in causes you feel strongly about?
Harris: Definitely. I'm very involved with Big Brothers ... we're doing events for some no-kill animal shelters and lots of guest appearances at charity events. Whenever we can fit it into our schedule, we're always trying to raise awareness and give back whenever we can.
Watch a preview of Jillian on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
TVGuide.com: How are you and Ed doing?
Harris: We're fantastic. It's just so crazy to think about how we met because, on a day-to-day basis, I feel like I'm with my soulmate and I forget that we met in such a bananas sort of way. Every day that we're together we become closer and more open and we have fun! We're spontaneous and there are times where people want us to go out for drinks or dinner and we'll just say, "Oh, let's just crawl into bed and watch TV" or we'll pour ourselves a glass of wine and curl up at home. We truly enjoy those moments together and I've never had that before in my life. I've been crazy about somebody, I've loved somebody, but I've never been crazy in love with somebody like this before.
TVGuide.com: How's the wedding planning coming?
Harris: We have pretty much the entire wedding planned out ... and we are pumped to get married. I want people to walk away from our wedding and feel like it was a huge celebration, not only for what we are about to embark on in our life together, but a huge celebration to thank friends and family for supporting us all this time. I have everything picked out, but we just don't know when it's going to be and we don't know where it's going to be. We're pretty sure we want it to be in Canada, but if I can't have it in Canada for whatever reason, we're thinking of a setting like Utah, Montana, or the Oregon coast. Ed and I are really down-to-earth, simple people. We want a big barbecue, maybe an '80s band, some food made by my Auntie Betsy. I want it to be big and exciting and beautiful, but at the same time down-to-earth.
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TVGuide.com: How was it to see Jason marry Molly?
Harris: Jason and I have actually remained very, very close from even before the time he broke up with Melissa and asked Molly out. Molly and Jason and Ed and I have had the opportunity to hang out on a few occasions and we have a great connection with them. We have a lot of fun with them. When Jason let me go that day, he said something to the effect of wanting to keep in touch and I remember thinking, "Yeah, right." But we really have, and he has stayed in my life and will continue to stay in my life.
TVGuide.com: What did you think about Jake choosing Vienna?
Harris: At first, I really didn't think she was a good fit. I always thought Tenley was a better fit and I was worried for him if he was going to pick her, but I did toward the end see a different spark with him. He became a little bit more laid-back, a little bit goofier, a little bit more comfortable in his own skin with her, which he really needed. I had the opportunity to meet her last weekend and she's a real sweetheart. I mean, she may have done some stupid things when she was young. We all have, but those are things that happened when she was just fresh out of high school. She's changed and she may not be as mature as we all want her to be or as old as we want her to be, but she's actually a sweetheart and she does have a big heart.