When Craig Conover and I hopped on a Zoom call last week to discuss the new season of Southern Charm, he didn’t log on from his own home. He did it from Austen Kroll’s. “It’s funny, because I’m actually doing the interview from his house, but it’s because I was downtown and he has good lighting,” he said with his signature smile. It’s actually not that odd considering Craig has spent much of the last year living with Austen while his own home was under construction. “I’m about as close as you can possibly get to being finished,” he said. “It’s time to have a home base again. It’s been a ride. Just another different element to this season, which will be funny,” he teased of the upcoming odd couple shenanigans we’re likely to see on the show.
But of course it’s not all fun and games, as much as some of these cast members wish it was. Craig also reveals his candid reaction to hearing this season’s big rumor about former cast member Cameran Eubanks, the personal and professional adventures we’ll see him embark on, and what we should know about the show’s newest cast members. Plus, he’s promising some exciting stuff ahead. “I don’t know how it happens every year with Southern Charm, but it always just works out,” he said. “For better or for worse, there’s just always something changing in Charleston and something new.”
DECIDER: How is Austen as a roommate? How did you guys get along that way?
CRAIG CONOVER: It was good! I was on the Pillow Party tour for a while in the Fall and Winter [last year]. I didn’t have my house, so I would stay with Austen when I was in town. With him, always perpetually on-and-off with Madison, he liked the company too. Neither one of us really liked being alone. When the Pillow Party tour was over, and I was settling back in, it was time to start spending consistent time in Charleston and Austen welcomed me to stay here.
But we’re different in ways. He’s actually a lot more of a neat freak than you would think. I’m looking around today, and I’m like, “This house is really clean.” He’s just very particular about where his stuff goes — and I’m not. I don’t really care. I do it more like: I’ll let things get messy, and then have someone come clean it.
So Austen and I got along well. We’ll deal with it this season, but he’s got this thorn in his side that when Madison’s not involved with him, he’s great. He’s happy. We got along amazingly. She would tease him, and let him think that there was a chance that they were gonna hang out. He would deflect all of that anxiousness onto me, and it started to become a problem. One time I had people over and didn’t tell him; he didn’t like that, threw my stuff out into the yard. I was like, “This isn’t gonna work anymore.” As hospitable as someone can be, it’s still not your place. But it went exactly how you would think it would go.
Did you guys just have to make an agreement to not talk about his relationship at all?
[Laughs] I’m sure he would love that! And yes. It got to that point. That’s a great segue into this season, and you will see why. That is exactly what happened. We were like, “You know what? You can only lead a horse to water so much. It’s not our business, and we don’t care.” You will see, though, that things develop that bring us back into it. We would have loved to stay out of it, but there’s a reason that it sucks everyone back.
You say that Shep’s new girlfriend Taylor is the reason why he’s tolerable now. Maybe you could say to Austen: “Look! This is a woman that makes a guy better or want to be better. You could have that too!”
I mean, I think we’ve said everything that exists. I wasn’t speaking to Shep last winter. I had just kind of cut him out of my life. He started to date Taylor and he started to see a therapist, and he became a 1000 times better version of himself. She really does make him a happier, tolerable person. With Austen, I don’t blame Madison, because he has all the information he needs to make an adult decision. My friend was like, “Craig, it’s not that easy when you love someone.” But I don’t blame Madison at all. He’s an adult.
Tell me a little bit about doing this season without Cameran. Did you miss her? How about the other girls, did you miss them? Was it noticeable?
I mean, yeah. I miss Cam. We love doing this together, and I think she loves doing it too. That was my rock; it was me and her and Shep since the beginning. I didn’t really see that ever changing. Of course I missed Cameran. Losing Cam made me sad, but Naomie and Chelsea, that’s just kind of the ebbs and flows of the show. Chelsea wasn’t going to allow anyone to see inside her relationship. There wasn’t anything else to talk about. And Naomie’s on her own path, which, we actually are on great terms now. I saw her at an event a couple of weeks ago and we talked for 15 minutes. It was really funny. I kind of remember Stassi doing this with Jax on her podcast. It’s been so long and we’re both moved on with our lives, but you also know each other better than almost anyone on the planet. So we could talk about the lessons we both learned in our relationship together, how we’re trying to not do that stuff in following relationships. That was a good time to talk to her. Miss Cam, but it’s okay. The show evolves. There’s always something else going on.
Well, it seems as though she is gone but not forgotten. We see in the first episode that Kathryn brings up the rumor about her marriage to you. You immediately try to shoot it down, but I’m guessing it doesn’t just end there. Is it weird to talk about her without her being there? What is that whole experience like?
I have never had this happen before. I was completely blindsided. I had not heard this rumor. I couldn’t figure out why Cam wasn’t with me. We went up right until we started filming, and then she just didn’t do it. I just had no clue what was going on, and then Kathryn drops this bomb on me. I almost threw up. Which, I’ve never felt that before. But it was like getting punched in the stomach. There were so many thoughts that raced through my head because it just didn’t make sense. Either way, you were going to be heartbroken. It was the first day, my first time back on camera this year, and I was like, wow. You’re placing a piping hot potato in my hands. It was probably the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with on the show, or the hardest piece of information, rumor, thrown at me.
I walked off, and I was like, “What the fuck is going on?” I know everything, usually. I’ve been here so long that people like to tell me stuff, and I always know. I love just getting completely surprised. Not in this moment, but even on the mountain weekend, with the Danni/Madison thing [last season]. I had never heard that either. I was lying on the couch, like, “Oh my god.” [Laughs]
It was tough. I got up, and I walked away. But yeah, Kathryn, she chose me to tell. And then regardless of how I felt about the rumor, it was being talked about, it existed. It was out of the tube of toothpaste. I didn’t know how to handle it, because I love Cameran so much. In one sense, you’re concerned because even if something’s 99.9 percent false, even the possibility, you still hurt for your friend. But then you look at the other side, and you’re like, “Well, shit. No one wants this.” You need to know if this is out there. Or maybe you don’t! I don’t know. That’s why I had to ask Leva, who is Cam’s best friend. Because I was like, this giant hot potato that I have, and I need to hand it to someone else. Leva and Cam used to be roommates, and they’re best friends. My biggest fear with telling Leva was that she was going to kill Kathryn. I was put in a position where I love Kathryn, but I also love Cam. So it was tough.
How about Leva? What was it like having her in the cast full time?
Oh, it was great! Leva’s always been around. The people that joined this year did a really good job. And by doing a good job, all that consisted of was being herself and saying what you would usually say even if the cameras weren’t there. You’re not performing. You’re just being transparent. I think in the past few years, we’ve been lacking that with the girls. If I’m being honest, I don’t think they were being that transparent, all of them. This year, they are. And it’s great. Leva and I have known each other for 10 years, and I joined her and her husband’s restaurant group last year. It was fun having her. She’s got a lot of opinions and isn’t scared to say them. It was a fun surprise, to be around someone who was speaking their mind.
And how about John? Anything we should know about him?
[Laughs] Yeah. Somehow it just works, because he’s all over the place. You always forget how old Shep is until you’re around someone his same age that has kids and has already had a divorce and stuff. But John, he likes to party. He goes from zero to 100 really quick, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s kind of a bull in a China shop, really. I just made sure that I wasn’t in the China shop, but watching from outside. I was egging it on. I would kind of just instigate. But he’s great. He’s a super nice guy. But he’s got a lot of demons too, just like all of us. He does some stuff that is just utterly absurd and shocking. He definitely is Austen’s [antagonist] this year. I’m sure Austen just wishes he wasn’t around.
Are we going to see you do any dating this season?
Yeah. Quarantine was an interesting period. Yeah, we will see it.
Great! In the first episode, you say that you won Most Dramatic in high school, but I would guess that your castmates probably give you a run for your money now. Is there anyone that you would nominate from this cast to be most dramatic?
Well, Austen was most dramatic too. We have the same picture in our yearbook. I’m whispering into the girl who won its ear, and he is too. Yeah, we both won it.
I mean, most dramatic other than me? Yeah, Austen is pretty dramatic. And through the dating that you’ll see on this season, I have learned I’m more dramatic than I thought I was. Or so I’ve been told. But also, I’m like, what do you expect? But reactionary-wise, it’s probably Austen.
How is Sewing Down South going and we will see you in action being a businessman this season?
Yeah. You’ll get to see my HSN journey on the show. They actually just placed their second purchase order with us this week, a couple thousand more pillows, which was awesome. The Thomasville line we were working on, we just got to release that. It’s doing really well. We’ve got some big names coming at us. We’re excited to launch our holiday collection and just keep moving forward with becoming a family household name. It’s fun. We had that year when we weren’t filming, and I could really focus on the company. By the time we came back, it was fortunately doing well enough that no one had anything to question anymore. Shep’s moved on to yelling at someone else about their life.
Is there anything else you want to say about this season?
I just don’t know what it’s going to look like. I think as the years go on, the more and more true to myself, and the more and more transparent I am, it’s a positive thing. I like people getting to know more and more about me. The true me. I’m excited to continue to share this journey with everyone. This year is not the easiest, but it’s cool because you will actually get to relate to us. We’re going through exactly what everyone else was going through. Someone was making fun of [us and] said something nasty and I was like, “It’s not easy to do what we do.” [It caused] me to reflect, but I enjoy it. I think it’s fun. I like connecting with people the way we do. There’s definitely more I would have liked to share with the dating world this year, but you’ll get to see a little bit. I’m glad [this season] worked out because obviously, we were a little worried there. No one knew what to do, but we figured it out. In true Southern Charm fashion, shit hit the fan.
Southern Charm airs Thursday at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.
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