‘Winter House’ Star Austen Kroll on The “Kick to the Groin” Of Seeing Madison LeCroy on A Magazine Cover

Introducing, Ladies Man Austen Kroll, everyone! With Winter House finally upon us, we’re entering a new era on Bravo where multiple women are chasing after Austen, and viewers will get to see exactly why.

The last we saw of Austen, he had a rough reunion after Season 7 of Southern Charm. Luckily, just as that finished airing on TV — and all the revelations that came with it — he was freeing himself from the baggage, packing up his suitcase, and heading for the mountains. Along with bestie Craig Conover, the Southern Charm duo join their Summer House pals for three weeks of non-stop partying, all for our entertainment.

Here, Austen talks about that infamous turtleneck, the absolute disaster of a mess that house became, the decision to not say one specific word, and how he finally started going to Craig for relationship advice.

Decider: So I think Paige says it best, she can’t believe that three women are fighting over Austen Kroll; can you believe it?

Austen Kroll: You know what, Lea? Yes I can. First off, I was like, Paige, come on. But Craig and I have spoken about this and he’s like, I think that you’re just gonna be excited. Finally fans are gonna get to see a different side, you know? He was like, they might be wondering, why are all these women after Austen? And I don’t know, I guess it’s just an infectious personality.

This was a very specific time in your life when Winter House was happening, and you were ready to go. We’re seeing in this trailer, Ciara and Lindsay are professing their love for you, they’re crying. Was this an everyday thing for you or is this a very new experience? Was it easy to navigate? What was it like on your end?

Easy to navigate, no. So the thing I guess that people don’t realize is that Lindsay and I have known each other for years, and Lindsay and I have this great friendship together. I know that Craig knew because Craig had been with us multiple times in New York. With her coming into the house I was like, Look, if all else goes sideways, at least I have Lins [there]. Craig has this notion that he had been telling me for years. He was like, she’s in love with you, she’s in love with you.” I was like, stop it Craig, you are wrong, you’re wrong, this is another one of your Craigisms. And then she dropped it on me, right? Kind of when I was trying to cultivate something with Ciara, which you guys see. And so that made it difficult because I was like, Ahh! I didn’t ask for this, you know? I wasn’t pursuing both women trying to be some sort of player. It kind of got dropped on me so that’s why it was a “What are you talking about?” kind of moment.

How did it feel for you to be in a Nancy Myers movie, all bundled up in your turtleneck?

[laughs] Listen, I think that’s so funny because I grossly under-packed and then they wanted us to do the photoshoot. I had to order clothes, and so I’m sitting there and another one of the cast members, Julia, is sitting there with me and she’s like, “Okay, this, this, this, this,” so I ordered all this stuff. So when the turtleneck came, I put it on and people were like “Oh! I like it! You look handsome!” and it’s just funny that when it came out, yeah, I was dying laughing too. And honestly I think that I’m gonna bring it back in some capacity, whether it be like, Watch What Happens Live or some press appearance. I feel like I have to.

You have to, you have to just embrace it now. It did look handsome, it doesn’t look bad.

My mom, I sent a picture prior to the press release and she was like, “You look so handsome Austen!”. And then it came out and I was getting burned, but yeah, I think it’s great.

Do you think that you got drunker on Winter House or on Southern Charm?

Winter House. It was like an 18-day-long marathon. Every day we’d wake up and I would be like, we couldn’t possibly have another party, can we? And then someone was like, “Okay guys, tonight: spring break themed.” I was like, oh my god. I’d look at Craig and I’d be like, “We look like shit, man, we need a break.” It was just non-stop. But I’m telling you, if anyone can rally, it’s the boys from South Carolina.

Obviously you and Craig have been besties for a while, but in doing this did you see a new side to him? Did you learn anything new about him during this trip?

What I learned the most was going to Craig for advice on what to do with the various situations that I find myself in. Craig has been through some things of his own and while he’s there he has a girlfriend. And so being able to go up to his room or pull him aside and get advice from him was something that had kind of recently happened.

Yeah, you didn’t want to hear it before. Tell me a little bit about how this experience was different from Southern Charm. There are cameras all the time so it’s an all-day every day type of thing. Was that easy to adjust to and what else was an adjustment for you?

It was interesting to be somewhere where the cameras are on 24/7. That’s what I tell Lindsay sometimes, at least it’s all just happening then. There’s no going home and going to sleep and waking up and thinking about it and meeting up for lunch or whatever. It continuously happens. So you have to wake up in the morning with your guilt or your embarrassment or whatever and face it every single day for 18 days. I found it to be easier because I found this to be a different chapter for me. Finally, I was able to not be with a person, a girlfriend, and just really focus on myself and having fun with friends. So in that sense, I thought it was easier.

Did you have a mantra or anything to help you get through filming while that severely hungover all the time?

[laughs] No, I certainly was trying to use de-puff creams and all sorts of stuff for the bags. And I definitely ordered a bunch of products to the house. We would all be trying to walk around in the morning with under-eye bag stuff and it’s just, yeah. God, it was fun.

Okay good, then let’s get through the not-fun moments. Tell me a little bit about being in the grocery store and seeing the magazine with your ex’s picture on it, what was that like?

Yeah, I mean… just not what I thought I would be walking into. Seeing a picture of my ex just directly in front of me like, ugh, kick to the groin, you know? Just something that you don’t really want to deal with, and I was like, Okay, cool, yeah, I’m in Vermont. I’m away from all this stuff. It was minor for me but it’s like, Aw man, come on.

Did you make a conscious decision to refer to her as “my ex” and not her name?

Yeah, yeah I think so. That’s funny that you say that because…yeah, the name just had so many lingering traumatic things with me, and I guess that, yeah. Subconsciously I was like, let’s not make her a part of this trip.

I do have to take you to task for one other thing, which is: you put your boots on your bed. 

I’m sorry, what now?

You put your boots on your bed! You’re like sitting on your bed, and your boots are on your bed! Boots are outside shoes, why are they on your bed?

That’s…that is psychopathic behavior, I don’t know what to say. Serial killer behavior even. I don’t…I don’t remember that. No one is more disappointed in myself than me Lea, that’s for sure.

Okay, fair. Look, they’re probably fairly new boots, maybe they had been in the crisp snow. 

Yeah, but boots on the bed, no sir. Okay, I’ll do better for you.

Thank you. How destroyed was that house when you left?

At a couple of points throughout, we really had to come together as a team and be like, we cannot live in this filth. Because of COVID, we couldn’t get cleaners, which I guess that we normally would have done, and our sink was just…It was like a frat house, you know? All of us were there in one place and we kept on partying. And at certain points yeah, we were like, enough is enough and we’d have to do a deep clean. But that doesn’t get the champagne off the walls.

No, I don’t know what does, honestly. Maybe you’ve learned some cleaning tricks. 

Yeah, a couple times we were like, “Are we okay with this mess?” And all of us were like, no, but we didn’t want to do it. When we left, it probably looked great. But boxes and packages were coming left and right for all of us so our stack of cardboard at the end of the trip was enormous.

I hope the people that did come and clean it didn’t bring any sort of blue light or anything because nobody wants that.

Listen….Lea, don’t go there.

The thing that we’ve seen on Summer House is that certain people take on a certain chore. Was there a chore that you were point person for?

[Shakes his head] We didn’t do any of that. I thought that the Summer House people were going to, but they didn’t.

Do you feel like we are going to get to see more of your snowboard skills or hot tub skills?

Well, the great thing was that we actually made it to the mountain like, six or so days. On day one, me and Craig and Luke and Kyle were like, we really wanna get on the mountain, and the girls were like, well, we don’t want to. And so we went and we had a blast out there.

Six or seven trips to the mountain, how many trips to the hot tub?

Um, the hot tub…you know what? Not as much as you’d think. We all definitely utilized it on our first couple nights and then we took a break from it for a while and then we did some other fun things in there, which, you’ll get to see. Not utilizing the hot tub in the way that you think.

I did want to ask about Ciara. Was there anything you guys connected over? Were you just like, this woman is beautiful, let’s go? Was there anything to your dynamic that we maybe didn’t get to see but that you were feeling?

Honestly, the way that I was able to make her laugh is what made me really really dig her. Of course she’s beautiful, but we’d wake up, and not in bed together all the time because it was a brand new thing. We’d both just kind of met each other. But when we would meet up in the mornings and whatnot and talk, we would just sit there and laugh for like 30 straight minutes. And I don’t know, I feel like laughter is the best medicine for everything.

What I’m excited about for this show is that, from the first episode alone, it’s just so fun. I love seeing you guys have a good time, there’s nothing heavy or serious about it. I’m sure there will be the squabbles as we go along, but I like seeing everyone just partying and having a good time. 

You couldn’t have said it better, and that’s what we wanted too, going in, and we all were very pleased. We just kept on having fun and yes, of course there are some little things that happen, as happens with alcohol and dramatic people. But for the most part, it really was just a bunch of friends having fun together.

Tell me about the new people. What should we know about them?

Okay well every single one of them are models. We were joking, “Great, welcome to Model House.” Model house and me and Craig, the people that aren’t models. There are a lot of models running around. [With Andrea], at first, Craig and I were like, what do we have like in common with some Italian male model? And I think that he felt the same way about us. Then that quickly changed and we all become this rat pack, it’s quite fun. Jason and Gabby and Julia, they’re all great. They are fun people and I’m excited to see what everybody thinks about them.

Anything you can tell us about what’s currently going on down in Charleston, how is the new season of Southern Charm coming?

Yeah, so we’re like three weeks in. Friends join our friend group and we’re just getting into it. We’ve had a couple of meet-ups and nothing really crazy, I don’t think. That’s what’s interesting, I don’t know what everyone else is filming when I’m not there, but I think that we’re also trying to keep it lighter than last year. Last year was very heavy and ominous and a lot of fights. A lot of people that I talked to prior to filming, we were like, can we just have a little more fun, guys? We’re actually friends and people like to see us being friends, so can we be friends? And I think a lot of people have that mindset.

Anything else fun that you’re excited to see coming up on this season of Winter House?

It’s all just so goofy. And the goofier that I can be, the better. Craig and I, [when] it’s our turn to throw a party, the outfits that we choose to wear, I just don’t think that you’re gonna be able to not smile and laugh at us. I want everyone that watches this show to literally say, “I want to be in this house, how fun is this?”

And Trop Hop, everything going well?

So much happening Lea, so much happening. And thankfully I’m able to cover it all on Southern Charm and can’t wait for people to see what’s going on. I’m changing directions and I’m adding some new flavors and I added a partner who really, really knows what they’re doing and we’re gonna move all throughout the southeast hopefully soon and New York shortly thereafter. I’ve been saying that for what feels like two years, but these people know exactly what they’re doing and how to move it forward, and I’m very excited.

Winter House airs Wednesday at 9 pm ET/PT on Bravo.

Stream Winter House on Bravo