'Vanderpump Rules' stars Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz on season 5 drama: 'Insanity now, serenity later'
By: Gibson Johns
If you were simply judging based on the drama on this season of "Vanderpump Rules" so far, you might be inclined to predict that Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz's wedding never ended up actually happening. After all, their on-screen bickering has taken center stage so far this season.
But, as they told me exclusively during a recent visit to AOL HQ, what you see on their wildly popular Bravo show, now in its fifth season, is only part of the story.
And, if you follow the couple, you know that their wedding very much did happen, and it was a gorgeous affair officiated by their boss, Lisa Vanderpump, who they call an "inspiration."
Sitting with both stars last week, it quickly became clear that they're telling the truth when they say that "what happens off camera speaks louder than [what happens on camera]." In person and away from said cameras, their chemistry is palpable; they're at ease with one another, while also keeping one another in check. When Maloney took a dig at their co-star, Jax Taylor, Schwartz kindly defended him. When Schwartz went off on a tangent about "Dumb and Dumber," Maloney playfully rolled her eyes.
But, just because they're happy now, doesn't mean that airing all of their dirty laundry out on television for millions to watch is something they regret. In fact, it's the opposite: Instead of sweeping any problems they have under the rug, the couple points to filming their difficult scenes as a kind of deranged couples therapy. Flipping the script on a classic "Seinfeld" episode, we decided that what they're doing is "insanity now, serenity later."
And it worked.
Tune in to all-new episodes of "Vanderpump Rules" on Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on Bravo.
See photos of Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz together:
Check out my full conversation with Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz below, where we talk about season five's James Kennedy and Lala Kent versus the cast situation, co-star Sheana Marie's recently announced divorce and working through relationship drama in front of millions:
Okay, so we're in the thick of season 5 at this point. I feel like I need to first ask how you're holding up.
Katie Maloney: Check our pulse? Make sure we're breathing?
Tom Schwartz: We're in the trenches of social media right now, but it comes with the territory. We're well-versed in this -- we're veterans, but we take the good with the bad. It's reassuring just knowing how happy of an ending it is. Spoiler alert!
Katie Maloney: There's a thin line between this being our reality and, also, [viewers] don't see everything, so it's impossible to show every nuance and dynamic of our relationship. Sometimes the blanket statements and generalizations about us not making it or people "giving us a year" can be hard, but we know better -- we know how it all ends. We're happy.
How much do you actually gauge what fans are saying? Do you pay attention or do you mostly tune it out?
Katie: It's impossible not to see it, and you're always curious what the response is going to be.
Tom: It's part of our job! You're not going to indulge in every comment, but we were talking about it earlier -- and I'm not trying to sound obnoxious -- but it's almost like a morbid curiosity, right? You know you're going to get roasted on Twitter, but you still kind of want to know what they're saying about you.
Katie: Exactly! I'm actually kind of a masochist when it comes to that. [Laughs] You want to be able to interact, and the best way to do that is through social, so you're going to come across that. It's been very heightened this year, and it's especially intense on my part. I don't really agree with what peopel are saying [about me].
What are people saying?
Katie: Just like, "Oh, I used to love you and now you're just mean and a b*tch." I'm like, "Um, are we forgetting...?"
Tom: There's so much more to Bubb, and she's not defined by these moments of hostility. Obviously, you know, those [tense] moments did happen, but she's so much more than that ... look at her!
And the show can only show certain parts in a series of events...
Katie: Exactly. We don't film 365 [days a year], so a lot of the time what happens off camera or off season speaks louder than what [happens on camera], and it's impossible to explain and convey that message when it wasn't documented. Even though I felt my feelings toward Lala [Kent] were warranted by some of her words -- after she called me fat to my face -- people don't even know or understand how ugly her words actually were.
Tom: Not to dwell on Lala, but she's also said a lot of mean things in the press. Back in the day, Katie had an accident where she fell through a skylight and she almost died, and Lala doesn't know anything about it...
Katie: And she was saying, "Yeah, that's why she has scars all over her face!"
Tom: And she accused her of being on drugs when she fell through the ceiling.
Katie: It was just an ugly situation. She's a terrible person, and I had the balls to say that to her face, so I guess that makes me the bad guy.
Well, I guess you can't please everyone.
Katie: For a long time, I didn't have a backbone, and people said I didn't stand up for myself or have opinions. And now I do, and people are like, "Whoa, sit down!" At the end of the day, I just have to please myself.
Switching gears a little bit, we all know how the season ends -- with your wedding -- yet, the dramatic build-up showing your relationship struggles this season has worked very well so far, and it easily could've felt anticlimactic.
Katie: I think that it's important to our story to show that struggle, because it was such a pivotal moment in our relationship in facing those problems. It's a necessary evil.
Tom: We really got in there and slogged through the messy details because we really wanted to make sure we explored and dissected everything -- and that can get really ugly. Especially when we started rehashing the past, present and the future. I think the payoff is so huge, though. I don't want to give anything away, but it's the happiest ending of all time!
Katie: My advice to people is to do that. A lot of people don't want to rock the boat and ruffle feathers and go there ... they don't want to admit that there are problems [in their relationship], and then they end up married and get divorced.
Tom: Remember that episode of "Seinfeld"? "Serenity now, insanity later."
There we go! It's almost like the opposite for you guys: You're having your insanity now and airing it all out there ... and the serenity will come later! But, regardless of that, are those moments of insanity still hard for you to watch?
Tom: Could you imagine? Think about having some of the biggest fights with people you've been very near and dear to. It gets messy when you're upset and you're tired and you've been drinking. You say things to each other that you might not mean.
Katie: It's not just us having to watch it, it's also millions of people [watching it, too]. Let's put a camera on you and your significant other and see what you say in a difficult moment.
Tom: Again, we know what we're getting into -- we signed up for this -- but that doesn't make it any easier.
Katie: Knowing what you signed up for it doesn't mean that it still doesn't affect you.
Tom: I know -- we have perspective, but it's easy to get caught up in the negativity.
Katie, you and Stassi and Kristen and Scheana collectively seem to be in such a great place...
Katie: Thank you for recognizing that.
Tom: We've really come such a long way. I saw a clip recently from an earlier season, and I forgot exactly how contentious things got.
Did you ever think you'd be able to get to this point as a group?
Katie: Because we've come this far on the show -- and we've had our falling outs and our reconciliations -- it's been a priority for us to have a different kind of friendship, so we can be in a real place with one another and really cut through the fat. We want to express our feelings and have conversations with it still safe without feelings getting hurt.
Going off of that, news broke last week that Scheana and her husband, Mike Shay, are getting divorced. What can you say about that? I assume you guys have all been there to support her.
Katie: What ultimately happened is between them, obviously, and none of us predicted it. We were all surprised.
Tom: It caught me truly off guard.
Katie: It took a while for it to become real, but I think ultimately they came to the decision mutually and amicably, and it was the best choice for them. Scheana is being really strong, and I'm just trying to be there for her. I'm like, "Do you want to go to Disneyland? Do you want to go get drinks?!"
Tom: She has a good support system, so I think she'll be just fine.
How would you both individually describe your relationships with Lisa Vanderpump?
Katie: I've worked for Lisa for so long, but it wasn't until the last three years that she's really gotten to know me. She's very much a mother figure, and in L.A. you really need that guidance. It's cool. She has very successful businesses and a marriage ... she really is goals. I look up to her as inspiration in a lot of different ways. Especially when I worked as her sort-of-assistant, I wanted a little bit of that Vanderpump juju to rub off on me. I wanted some of her magic.
Tom: That's exactly what I wanted when I got involved in the Lisa Vanderpump Sangria -- I was less interested in the actual business than I was in just wanting to absorb some of her essence by osmosis. She's very wise, she's a philanthropist, she's funny, she's a great mom, she's been through so many highs and lows ... I can keep going! For me, personally, it's nice to have a raport with her.
Going off of that, though, what did you make of her recent comments on the show that she was worried about the future of your relationship?
Tom: Listen, she's not a gossipmonger or anything, but she hears about stuff through the grapevine, and some of it does have an impact on her business, so she weighs in on it. She had heard at that point that we had been having a rough patch.
Katie: She knew our history, and she'll put something out there, but she'll also let things play out. She lets us seek her out. She's not wrong about it, but coming from her it affects you a little more. When someone is your inspiration, you don't want them to think that you're a crap person.
At what point do you guys think you went from being the wait staff at SUR to being bonafide celebrities?
Tom: People come up to us all the time -- and I'm not just trying to be humble -- but it still catches me off guard. I forget that I'm a recognizable person on TV.
Katie: For a long time, it would be someone who was looking but not coming up to you. I'd be like, "Do I know this person?"
Tom: Yeah! It's like, "Did I go to high school with this person? Did I just meet them last night?"
Katie: And then you realize it's because of the show. There's not a singular moment [where the switch happened], because I don't feel like I'm that cool. [Laughs]
What do people say when they do come up to you?
Tom: People love asking me, "Is it real?" People are skeptical, because a lot of shows are soft-scripted or fully scripted in the reality world, but ours is really organic. It's unfortunately all real.
Katie: Here are the questions we get: "Can I have a picture?," "Where's Jax?," "Is Stassi really a b*tch?"
Tom: Or, "I have no idea who you are, but can I get a picture?" But, yeah, I will say that nobody has really let it go to their heads or developed an ego.
Katie: Well, I don't want to say...
Tom: Okay, well some people have developed a little bit of an ego, but I would say most of the cast hasn't.
Katie: I mean, James Kennedy?
Tom: Oh, I don't even count him!
Katie: Jax has an ego, too! I remember going to Britney Spears in Vegas [with him] and wanting to pretend like I didn't know him. I have heard the words, "I am famous," come out of his mouth.
Tom: He was drunk-- he didn't mean that! I'm like his PR guy, I'm always defending Jax. [Laughs] But, actually, I think one of the pinnacle moments for us so far was when we were at PUMP, and we got to meet Lady Gaga and she knew our names! She asked to see Katie's ring, and she knew details about my life.
You both recently joined the entire cast at a "Vanderpump Rules" bar crawl -- the #VanderCrawl -- in New York City, and the turnout looked insane! How was it?
Katie: That was probably the biggest moment where I was like, "Whoa!" That was on another level. I felt like a Kardashian. There were hoards of people, and they were screaming non-stop!
Tom: I was like, "I'm not worthy!" I swear I made it a point of meeting every person that came to that.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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