Exclusive Interview with Ben Knobloch from ‘Temptation Island’

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Temptation Island is one of the best reality TV shows this year. The reboot of the beloved Fox hit from the early 2000s follows four dating couples at the most vulnerable time in their relationship. They travel together to Maui, but are soon split apart as they move into separate houses with 12 attractive singles of the opposite sex. At the end of the show, each couple will decide whether to stay together, leave the island with someone new, or leave completely alone.

Mario Perez/USA Network

Ben Knobloch is one of the singles on this current season of the show. Hailing from Arizona, Ben came to Temptation Island completely over casual flings and looking for the “real thing.” I got the chance to talk with Ben about what made him join the army, how he got cast on the show, what initially attracted him to Ashley, his nerdy obsession with academic journals and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!

First of all, I actually would really love to know what made you join the army originally. That’s something I’ve always been curious about. 

[laughs] So when I was young, during those Scholastic Book Fairs in elementary school, they’d give you like 30 minutes to hang in the library and every kid would look at picture books or coloring books or whatever they were doing, but I always found myself looking at the picture books from World War II and thinking that seems like the coolest job in the world. All the tanks and guns were just so appealing for some reason. Then, when I got a little older – I was probably like 11 or 12 years old – I had a Great Uncle who started telling me old war stories about Vietnam. It just seemed like the coolest camping trip with your best friends ever. So that kind of flowered into me wanting to do something kind of badass before I became an adult and mature because I knew I was way too immature to go to college right away from high school. So to keep myself for being another degenerate, I decided to jump out of airplanes and shoot guns four or five years until I was ready to go to school.

That’s so cool. So I guess now let’s talk about Temptation Island. How did you get cast on the show?

They reached out to me. I used to post silly stupid videos on my Instagram story and one of the casting individuals reached out and told me about the show. To be honest, I don’t watch reality TV so I had never heard of it but it seemed like a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So obviously, I picked it up and here I am today.

Did you go back and watch season one to see what twists and turns they might throw out at you or did you go in completely blind?

I was completely blind. I didn’t even know the premise of the show until I flew out to LA and they were asking about relationships and what I look for in a woman and then I kind of guessed it was like a dating-Bachelor type show. But I had no idea. I never watched season one.

Do you think that made your experience better? Like are you glad you went in blind or do you wish you had known a little bit about more about what the show was before you jumped into it full throttle?

I’m kind of torn because normally, when I get into different things, I like to do my own research. I like to know what I’m getting myself into. But this is more of a social experiment. So the fact that I went in blind and open minded, whether I got voted off the first day or made it to the very end and it changed my life forever, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt no matter what, because I wasn’t expecting anything.

Yeah. So the first time that we get to meet the singles they have you guys walk out in front of the couples and introduce yourselves. Did you have your eye on Ashley immediately or did one of the other girls catch your eye at first?

No, honestly it was Ashley. The first thing I noticed clearly was the physical attraction; that obviously stood out. A day later, we finally had the cocktail party, and when I got to talk to her, it was non-stop laughter for probably an hour or more. The guys are fighting for the chance to get the attention of the girls so we were all trying to butt in to each other’s conversations, but nobody was doing that when I was talking to Ashley. I knew that she was more than just a pretty face after talking to her for just a few minutes.

What were some of the things you guys bonded over right away?

I think it was the humor. We have the same sense of humor, which was huge because nobody likes those awkward dinner dates when everyone’s coupled up and it’s just quiet and awkward. You want to be the couple that’s laughing all the time because everyone wants to be around you guys. But it got to the point with Ashley and I where we were just communicating with our eyes, which was super unique. She’d be having a full blown conversation with somebody else in the room and I didn’t even have to talk to her; I’d just walk in the room, wait for her for just a second or two, we’d communicate what we’d need to say, and then we’d move on. Even though her and I were never really talking a whole lot in certain scenes of the show, we were talking all the time with our eyes.

Ashley had a pretty hard time those first couple of episodes. How did you personally go about being sympathetic and supportive of what she was going through but also wanting to get to know her better so that you could see whether or not there’s a romantic connection there?

It was definitely different, at least for the single guys, because we rarely friendzone a girl before we try to get together romantically. So the fact that we were forced to do this because these girls, for the first two to three weeks, were not interested in us in the slightest because they were thinking about their boyfriends and what their boyfriends were doing. So we were just there to be a shoulder to cry on, and kind of understand what they’re going through because some of us have had similar experiences to these girls. That made it easier, but it was definitely different than what we’re all used to.

Then, I knew Ashley was ready to move on from Casey was when Casey said that even if they broke up he wouldn’t care, he’d go back to his old ways. Something changed in her. She was like, “Oh, I see who he is now.” She really saw through all the bullshit and kind of opened herself up finally. She was ready to take it to the next step if you will.

At the same time that you and Ashley are building this connection, she’s also building a connection with Deac. Was it weird trying to navigate your connection in the same house as Deac while all three of you were super close? At one point, she even dubbed you guys the three amigos.

[laughs] There’s always going to be some fun competition between guys. But you kind of let the girls decide. You give it your best shot and see what happens. I knew kind of early on – I mean me and Deac are still bros today; love the dude – he’s very funny, but other than that there’s not much depth. Ashley even said the first couple of episodes, she chose him because he was funny and relatable and it was the safe choice.

On your second date with Ashley, you finally made the first move and kissed her. I know you said it was after Casey said what he said that you noticed a shift in her, but what made that the right time to finally take the next step? Was it simply Ashley finally be more open to the process of Temptation Island?

I think it was the fact that I kind of had a reality check. There were two guys voted off a day or two before that date and we’re all talking before the date like, “We only have like a week and a half or two weeks left in this place. It’s flown by.” It kind of put in perspective that I kind of was holding myself back the first week and a half. I was like, “I’m not gonna make a move. I’m just going to support her.” And then I thought, “You know, screw it. It’s now or never and if I’m going to do this, I’m going to be all in. Because anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing.” So I figured I’d shoot my shot and it panned out.

Your relationship after that progressed pretty fast. Like you said there was only a week and a half left on the show after that moment and in that week and a half, you told Ashley that you wanted to leave the island with her and that you thought you were falling for her. Was part of you scared, though, that she wouldn’t reciprocate those feelings and, as a result, wouldn’t pick you in the end and would go home with Casey?

No. I mean, yes, maybe like a 1% chance. Seeing her day 1 and then seeing her day 20-whatever towards the end, she was a completely different person. She came in a scared little girl and was leaving this mature woman who had a better idea of what she wanted. And I wasn’t necessarily scared that she wasn’t going to reciprocate the feelings. I was more scared that she’d go back to Casey. She was taking two or three steps forward and that would have been four steps back. I would have been more happy for her to go home alone than to go home with Casey and I let her know that. I was like, “Hey, we’ll be friends after this no matter what happens. Just do not go home with Casey.” She mentioned before – and one of the things that was a red flag for me – was that she’s never gone more than like three or four months without a boyfriend, ever. So I was like, “Oh you need some time alone to figure out who you are.” But I was happy to be there to help.

Is there a moment from filming that didn’t air that you wish we as viewers had gotten to see, whether it was something from one of your dates or just something that happened in the villa?

There’s a ton of things, funny, not funny. We had so many parties and had a great time just hanging out. It was funny because the producers would say, “Guys, this is boring TV. No one wants to watch you guys just play cards.” But we’re all dying laughing playing cards. That was the best moment in the house. Then the one day a week that we don’t film – they’re called dark days – they would take us out on the town and we’d have regular dinners, they were so much fun. Because normally, we were on house arrest. 

Yeah, I bet it’s nice to get out when all you can do is sit in a house for six days in a row. 

Yeah. You feel like Pablo Escobar – a big old mansion but you can’t go anywhere.

Another thing is that when Deac brought in the roses, it’s funny he got that idea from me. Two nights or a night before, I left a note for Ashley and I think that’s what bit him in the ass because Ashley saw it more of like a PR stunt than him actually doing it for her.

Right, like he was trying to save face in some way.

Yeah, we were just trying to one up each other.

That’s so interesting. What has watching Temptation Island been like for you? I mean, this is your first experience on reality TV and, like you said, you don’t really watch a ton of reality TV. So is it weird or are you totally comfortable with seeing yourself on TV?

It’s definitely weird. They film tens of thousands of hours and they edit it down to 45 minutes for one day a week. They cut out 98% of stuff that actually happened. They do a pretty good job of portraying everyone’s storyline if you will, but it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to is seeing myself on TV.

What do your family and friends think about the whole thing?

When I first told my parents, my mom was like, “Oh I love Mark Walberg. He’s my favorite.” She’s a big fan of reality TV. On the other hand, my dad doesn’t watch anything. So he’s like, “What’s the name of the show?” I was like, “Oh Temptation Island.” And he kind of took a step back and was like, “Oh, I don’t like the sound of that.” I’m like, “Dad, it’s okay” [laughs]. But every Thursday evening or Friday morning, I get phone calls and texts from family and friends being like, “Dude, I saw you. That was awesome,” and wanting to know the inside scoop if you will. So yeah, it’s fun.

Mario Perez/USA Network

That’s awesome. Are you happy with how things ended up for you? Do you have regrets about your time on the show? 

I would say I’m completely happy with how things ended up.

No regrets at all?

Yeah, no regrets. Not at all.

Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner nerd so what is something you are currently nerding out about?

Okay, so one thing about me is that I’m actually a huge nerd. I read more than anything else, and my claim to fame, is that I have a library in my room, like a library bookshelf that is completely stacked full of books I’ve read. And then secondly, whenever I’m bored, I read academic journals. 

Part 2 of Temptation Island’s final Bonfires airs tonight at 9/8c, followed by the reunion special at 10/9c on USA. Make sure you follow Ben on Twitter and Instagram

*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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