Joe Millionaire's Kurt & Steven On Their Biggest Takeaways From The Show - Exclusive Interview

FOX's new dating series, "Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer," was inspired by the 2003 show "Joe Millionaire." In the original series, multiple women were competing to date a man who they thought was a millionaire, though in actuality, he was not. This new version is set up a little differently. The first twist is that instead of competing for one man, there are two eligible bachelors on the show, Kurt Sowers and Steven McBee. One of the men is a millionaire while the other isn't, but the 18 women looking for love on the show aren't told which is which.

In an exclusive interview with The List, the two men sat down to discuss their experience on the dating show. Both said they aren't "typical reality TV show guys" and opened up about what it was like adjusting to being on set and trying to connect with the women in such strange circumstances. They also shared what their friendship is like behind the scenes and the biggest challenges they faced on "Joe Millionaire."

How Kurt and Steven got on Joe Millionaire

How did both of you end up going on Joe Millionaire?

Steven McBee: I Was looking through my Instagram DM requests one day, and this would've been January 2021. I had Cornwell Casting reach out to me, and honestly, I thought it was a joke at first, but I followed up, did a Zoom interview with them, and went from Cornwell Casting to 495 Productions to the network at Fox and had the Zoom interview with all of them. I flew out to LA in mid-July and ended up being selected.

Okay, And what about you, Kurt?

Kurt Sowers: Same exact thing, yeah. The DM slide that I didn't take that seriously. I had to bounce it off some of my friends actually and see if I should even consider it. Within that response with Cornwell Casting, we had a few Zoom calls, and honestly, within a couple of weeks I was in LA, and I met Fox and 495 productions and things moved pretty quickly from there.

Steven: Yep.

Was going on a reality TV, dating show, like that ever something you would've pictured doing or was it kind of a surprise?

Steven: No, for me personally, I know for Kurt as well, I don't even have cable in my house. I don't watch reality TV. Kurt doesn't even have a TV in his bedroom. We're not your typical reality TV show guys. This is not something I ever dreamed of, but at that point, I was 26 years old, still single to that point in my life. I figured, "Why not try something unconventional and go on a dating show?"

Kurt: Yeah, I never thought I'd be on a dating show. I used to make fun of dating shows all the time. I was always picking on any of my exes or something that would watch that TV. I used to call it trash TV and hate on it, and then here I am.

Steven: Yeah, the face of it.

How friends and family reacted to them going on a dating show

Did you have any funny reactions from friends or family when you told them that you were going to be one of the guys on a dating show?

Steven: Go ahead, Kurt.

Kurt: My family, actually they were pretty supportive of it. They thought, "Why not? You're at a point in your life where you can step away from what you're doing professionally, and you're single. You might as well put yourself out there and see what happens."

Steven: I didn't tell any of my friends about it because it wasn't a [certainty] until a couple days leading up to the shooting. I wasn't going to tell them, "Hey, I'm going to be on a dating show, " and then things fall through because then I would've looked like an even bigger idiot, so I kept it pretty tight-lipped. I told my immediate family, and my brothers were making fun of me the entire time. My mom wasn't sure what to think of it. My dad was telling me, "go for it." I figured, "Why not?"

Yeah, and like you said, neither of you kind of watch reality TV shows or dating shows like this. Did you have any idea what to expect going into it or were you kind of just along for the ride?

Kurt: None whatsoever. I think that shows on the [series]. We were both so ignorant to what goes on [during] these shows and what situations you might be put in, even how things could be produced a little bit. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Steven: Yes, same. Whenever I was going down there, they purposely didn't tell us a lot about what we were getting ourselves into. They didn't tell us the nature of the show, how big the show was. My concern was going down there and being followed around by two or three cameramen using little handy cams. I was like, "I don't even know how ... I don't want this to be a joke of a show because then I'd look like an even bigger fool." When you get down there, and there's 200 people on set, there are ten huge cameras in your face at any given moment. There are cameras mounted to your bedroom walls. I had no idea what to expect.

The most surprising parts of Joe Millionaire

Were there any aspects to the show that were the most surprising to you once you started filming?

Kurt: The production side to me, the behind the scenes of it. It was quite a sight to see, and seeing the behind-the-scenes of how these shows work and how these production companies work. It was pretty cool.

Steven: I have a newfound respect for the work that goes into these shows, Kurt and I both run day-to-day businesses. I feel like we work pretty hard in our companies, but then going on set to a real-life production for a TV show, we were working 16, 18 hour days and as hard Kurt and I were working in front of the camera, everyone on the production side was working, literally, close to 20 hour days behind the scenes. It was pretty crazy to watch that happen.

Kurt: It was pretty impressive, especially condensing it to such a tight timeline, too. We filmed this thing in seven weeks, so it's pretty intense.

Did you find it difficult? You're thrown into this show, and there's a lot of women. Did you find it difficult to connect with them because there's only so much time on the show when there are all those people there?

Steven: It made it hard, in the beginning, when there was so many women there. When we got to, probably, the top ten, that's when you really can start to make true connections and figure out who everyone is. Up until that point, you're going off your gut instincts and the five or six conversations you have with all these women that are all like 25 minutes. It's a very short timeframe up until you get to that ... The ten women are left, basically.

Kurt: It looks like we spend a lot of time with these women, but the truth is you don't. We see them for short spurts at a time; the conversations are limited. Most of the time, their conversations are [interrupted] by other people and/or producers. It was tough to get to know these ladies at first.

What it was like dating in front of cameras

Did that make it difficult when you're making the decisions of who's staying and who's going? Was that hard?

Kurt: Yeah, it felt like it was a bit unfair because we're not giving these women a proper shake, and then we're having to eliminate them or make judgments about them, and who knows if those judgments are even true.

Steven: For the most part, Kurt and I see things through a similar perspective, as far as what we're looking for in the women with and so we were very consistent as far as our eliminations go, honestly, throughout the entire show. I mean, we bounce ideas off of each other, and it seems like we always fell upon the same names each elimination which made it really nice.

What was it like also trying to get to know people when you're surrounded by cameras and also you have this crew behind the scenes, watching you have these conversations?

Steven: Honestly, by week two, you're so tired of the cameras it's like they're not even there. I found myself thinking halfway through the deal, "Man, there's literally 25 people around me in any conversation, and I'm having like intimate conversations with these women and not even caring that there are cameras on me."

Kurt: Yeah, it was a bit awkward. Alcohol helps. It was a bit awkward at first, for sure. I think you can see that too. In the first couple of episodes, we're struggling to find our feet, but the cameras disappear after a little while. It becomes second nature, and you realize that every conversation you're having is for the world to see.

Do you feel like you were able to be yourself and form genuine connections, even though you're in this unusual setting?

Steven: I don't think Kurt and I compromised who we are [in] everyday life. We were the exact same people that we are in literally every single day. I don't think we tried to put on a ploy or tried to act like anything we aren't.

Kurt: It was a lot easier when we realized that when we settled and say, "Look, we're going to be who we are. We can't try to project ourselves, anything else, because that's a hard act to keep up for seven weeks."

Did they feel like any women were there for the money?

With the premise of the "Joe Millionaire" show is that one of you is a millionaire, and they don't know which one. Do you feel like that changed the dynamic with any of the women as you were trying to get to know them?

Steven: I don't think it did for the most part. These women had no idea what the show was until they got there. It's not like they came into this knowing that one of us is a millionaire; one of us isn't. They showed up and were told this on the second day of filming. For the most part, I think we had a really, really good group of women. I think there were a few there early on that were looking for the Instagram followers, but I don't think the money aspect really affected any of these women.

Kurt: I agree.

This show's also a little different than some other dating shows because there are two of you instead of the one guy and this many girls. Do you think that kind of changed the experience in any ways?

Steven: Yeah, for sure. Way bigger than the money aspect was the ... I think the better twist was the fact that there's two guys.

Kurt: It was for the better, it allowed these women to choose instead of maybe having to fake a feeling for one man. Gving them an option, I think, made it a lot more genuine. It made the dynamic of the show that much better [because] you got Steven and [my] relationship. We're able to bounce ideas off each other. We're able to have real conversations about the ladies, about the situations that they can show on screen that might otherwise happen with a producer that you couldn't show. I think that was a really cool aspect of the show.

Steven: There's so much footage and so many important conversations that unfortunately didn't make the cut due to time limits ... Kurt and I had so many conversations back at the guest house that really helped move us along and helped create this experience and make the experience better than it would've been.

How they'd deal with falling for the same person

Do you feel like the two of you got along pretty well from the beginning?

Kurt: Everyone knows that by now.

What was it like when you first got to set and got to meet each other? Did you meet each other ahead of meeting the women?

Steven: Yeah, we met each other maybe one or two days ahead of meeting the women, but it was on set. It was on camera. Episode 1, where you see us meeting for the first time, that's genuinely us meeting for the first time — we didn't meet off camera. We hit it off right off the bat going into it. I didn't know what to think. I was hoping it wasn't going to be a jealous competition, and as soon as I walked in, Kurt and I kind of carried the same confidence though, we carry it in different ways. We really are pretty self-confident.

And were you ever concerned about like falling for the same girl?

Kurt: We said that we weren't allowed to claim anybody, so we kept the door open.

Steven: We eliminated bro code during the filming.

Kurt: It was a friendly competition, if anything. At the end of the day, we're on each other's teams. One of us would decide to step back [if that happened]. We would've done that but as you'll see, as the show plays out, those things happen naturally.

What has it been like now that the show's airing kind of watching it back? do you feel like it seems pretty accurate to how it actually was?

Steven: For the most part, everything's been portrayed accurately to how it happened. I wish, like I said, more of those conversations, there's a lot of very important aspects that ... the production company couldn't put into the show due to time limit. Unfortunately, there's a lot that I was like, "Oh, I wish that would've been made or would've been put into the episode," but as far as portrayals go, I think everything's been accurate.

Kurt: Some things definitely got omitted, but I don't believe anything's been manipulated.

Managing their 'brutal' schedule while filming

Were there any aspects to being on the show that were challenging?

Steven: There's a lot. The workload, the emotional stress, the rollercoaster ride of emotions that we went on throughout this entire show, and then really the fact that, again, Kurt and I run day-to-day companies. Asking us to step away from those and work off site for seven weeks where we only have our phone for two hours a day, that was stressful in and of itself.

Were you trying to still keep track of your company and everything and work in those two hours that you had to get everything done?

Kurt: We would get up — between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. is when they allowed Steve and I to work. We'd have our laptops and our phones from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. We would crunch out as many calls as we could. From 8:00 a.m., we'd try to get a quick workout in, and we'd be in the chair doing interviews by 9:00 a.m., and then from 9:00 a.m. till, who knows, 2:00 a.m? We'd be shooting. Pretty brutal. We were running off next to no sleep almost the entire time.

Steven: By the end of it, we were exhausted. We were pretty run ragged for sure.

That's an insane schedule.

Kurt: Yeah. It was pretty brutal. We'd catch naps. You know, TVs, a lot of hurry up and wait too, we'd get ready for something, and then I was catching a nap anywhere I could, even if it was five minutes.

Steven: We'd be in a tuxedo, and they'd be like, "All right, you have 45 minutes before we shoot." And we're like, "All right!" I'd go jump in bed in a tuxedo and nap.

Kurt and Steven's favorite parts of being on Joe Millionaire

What were your favorite elements of being on the show?

Steven: It was honestly having Kurt there and really hitting off that [brotherhood] with Kurt. Going into it, again, I did not know what to think of it. I was a little nervous about how it'd work out but honestly couldn't have worked out any better. We've been together, hell, near about every single weekend since.

Kurt: It's been the best relationship from the show, has been Steven and I. As we talked about before, behind the scenes, getting to see the camera crews and the production crews and the directors and how they work and operate, that was a new experience for me. It was something that I definitely admired. I admired how hard these guys worked and how well they all worked together too. They were a well-oiled machine. It was definitely inspiring to see that part of the industry.

New episodes of "Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer" air Thursdays on FOX at 8/7c. Episodes are available on FOX NOW the following day.