A year ago, Matt Hicks was just a normal guy living with friends in Exeter, U.K., working as an environmental consultant and playing hockey in his spare time. But when the producers behind Fox's new reality show I Wanna Marry Harry reached out to him, Hicks thought, "Why not?"
The twist: Hicks would have to pretend to be Prince Harry while courting 12 American girls.
"I was like, 'Sure, this will be great,'" Hicks recalls to TVGuide.com. "It's six weeks getting treated like a prince, meeting some really cool, hot American girls, [and I] get paid for it. And I still had my job when I went back. So it was a win-win situation.
"And if I find a romantic interest along the way," Hicks adds, "all the better."
While Hicks admits he initially saw the experience "through rose-tinted glasses," once filming actually began it wasn't quite what he expected. "I hadn't thought about all the deceiving and the lying and how I'd feel about that," Hicks says. "It was all a bit of fun, but after the process went on, that got a bit draining: the mental side of having to remember every single detail about Harry every time I opened my mouth to talk to the girls."
Fortunately, the production team gave Hicks a "blitz Harry school," one week of training where he was taught about the prince's military career, schooling, friends, past scandals, exes and hobbies, including how to ride a horse, skeet shoot and ballroom dance. "It was really fun. But I wouldn't say I'm competent at any of them," Hicks jokes.
One of the most interesting aspects of I Wanna Marry Harry is the fact that none of the women were actually told Hicks was Prince Harry. They just knew going in that they would be competing for an eligible bachelor, so the pressure was on Hicks to really sell it. "Some believed more than others, and some wanted to believe more," Hicks says. "Some were more skeptical, but I think even those ones who are more skeptical were just completely confused by the situation ... It was tricky. I had to have some really odd conversations. I think I might have even slipped up a few times, but nothing jeopardized the show."
Though Hicks had to stay in character throughout the six-week process, he says he did manage to make some genuine connections with the girls. "I tried to put as much of me into it as possible, so when they asked about my traveling I spoke about the traveling that I've done because I assumed they wouldn't know any different," Hicks says. "I wasn't necessarily opening up, but they were opening up to me by the end. And the girls at the end were obviously ones I liked more."
Hicks admits he doesn't have "a lot of guilt" over lying to the girls. "At the end of they day, everyone signed up for a reality TV show. It's all a bit of fun. Anyone whose criticizing it for being cruel or saying I deceived them, they're just taking it all too seriously."
I Wanna Marry Harry premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on Fox. Will you tune-in?
Get a first look at some of the female contestants here.