NEW YORK - Fans curious to find out if there's any drama this season on "The Bachelor" aren't alone. Its latest star, Juan Pablo Galavis, says he's interested to see what happened among the women when he wasn't around.
"That's the question that I don't know the answer (to.) I don't get to see any of that," said Galavis in an interview Thursday. "It was the same on 'The Bachelorette.' All the guys were on good behavior in front of Desiree (Hartsock) but around the house they weren't."
The 32-year-old former pro soccer player competed for the affection of Hartsock last summer on "The Bachelorette." He wasn't chosen for a one-on-one date and had very little air time before getting sent home. Still, he made such an impression with viewers that ABC decided to make him "The Bachelor."
Host Chris Harrison admitted recently to Galavis being a surprise candidate.
"Juan Pablo really wasn't on our radar as we ended the show," said Harrison, who explained producers typically have a good idea of who should make the cut as the next bachelor or bachelorette.
"We've really never had anybody who's had less screen time and less attention get so much popularity. We kind of had to rethink the whole thing. ... Once we announced him it was nuts. ... There is this intangible charisma, charm, this thing that he has. I've seen it firsthand and women just swoon. It makes me mad and I'm jealous and I don't like him," he joked.
ABC was quick to capitalize on the it factor of Galavis, the show's first Latin bachelor. They began calling the month of January "Juan-uary" in ads and aired a "Countdown to Juan Pablo" special the night before on the casting process.
For all of the attention, Galavis said he's just focused on living his life normally.
"I want the show to be successful and if it's successful that means I was myself and people got to know me as I am and they like what they saw on TV. (Ratings) are for the executives but if the numbers are high I'm happy with that."
So far, the honchos at ABC should be happy. Monday's premiere had the highest "Bachelor" ratings in three years with 8.4 million viewers tuning in, up 17 percent from last year's installment with Sean Lowe as the bachelor.
Galavis was born in Ithaca, N.Y., but grew up in Venezuela. He played professional soccer there and moved to Miami to play with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, but retired in 2008 after the birth of his daughter Camila (whose mom is an ex-girlfriend he never married.) He now works as a sports and entertainment consultant.
Galavis says he still goes back to Venezuela "once or twice a year" but "right now it's very hard." On Monday, actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry, were killed in a robbery on an isolated stretch of highway near Venezuela's main port.
A nonprofit group called Violence Observatory counted nearly 25,000 people slain in the country last year.
"The country is in a tough situation, very difficult, very dangerous and now you have to think about going there," said Galavis.