John M. Heller/Peter Kramer/Getty Images
John M. Heller/Peter Kramer/Getty Images
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County alum Jason Wahler says the reality show was not "fake," following former co-star Kristin Cavallari's claim that the series did not, well, live up to its name.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with E! News, Wahler, 29, also says his former on-air relationship with Lauren Conrad, 30, who he dated on the series and spinoff The Hills, was indeed genuine.
In the book, Balancing in Heels: My Journey to Health, Happiness, and Making It All Work, released Tuesday, Cavallari, 29, writes that while she enjoyed her time on both programs, "there was certainly a good deal" to Laguna Beach "that wasn't 'real,' but as kids we got caught up in it anyway."
"Look, the reality of it is, the relationships and the context of everything, was our real lives," Wahler told E! News. "Obviously with editing and different things, you can make things look different, or sound different. I feel like for me, it created a character for me. Yes, there were probably things that weren't the most accurate, but it wasn't like it was scripted, you know, it was a soft script."
"For me, I am not upset with anything they did—if anything, I am very grateful for how things panned out," he added. "I wouldn't change anything. They can definitely create a character, but I wouldn't go to the extreme to say that it is all fake."
Cavallari does not mention Wahler in her book and wrote that "it was easy to go along with made-up situations and not think much about the consequences," adding, "to keep things interesting, words were dubbed, scenes filmed months apart were shown in the same episode as though they were concurrent, and phone calls were faked (I would literally be on the phone with no one or sometimes with a producer)."
She also said show producers "manipulated" relationships and pressured her boyfriend Stephen Colletti into spending time with Lauren Conrad.
MTV, whose The Hills finale had poked fun at the question of the series' authenticity, has not responded to Cavallari's comments.
"Our personalities were who we were and that kind of dictates who we are," Wahler added. "Maybe some things were manipulated, but overall, we were the ones in front of the camera. It's not you can really switch what we were doing to the extreme of really tailoring who you are totally."
Wahler left The Hills in 2007, three years before the show ended its six-season run in 2010. In the years after he departed the series, he had numerous drinking-related arrests and spent time behind bars. He battled substance abuse. He entered rehab several times and appeared on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. He recently co-founded a men's sober living home, Widespread Recovery, in Laguna Beach.
"My whole lie is transformed," Wahler told E! News. "I have been sober for many years now and have a facility and speak all over the country and actually am in the works for a project that was proposed to me, based upon my recovery. I do a lot of work with Dr. Drew and [addiction counselor] Bob Forrest, who are my mentors now and I work alongside them now, as they were overseeing my care. To be where we are at today, nothing is more gratifying."
"It is crazy how six years ago, I used to travel and get paid to party," he said. "Today I am able to live sober and live a life worth living...When people come in and they are broken and destroyed and it looks like they don't have any hope for the future, they come out on the other side and turn their life around. To be a part of that, there is no amount of money, drugs, or high you get [that tops] when you see someone transform their life."
Wahler said he has stayed in touch with several of his former Laguna Beach co-stars over the years, including Colletti and Talan Torriero, 29, and is "still pretty close friends" with Cedric Channels, 29.
"But everyone has pretty much gone on their own paths," he said. "Growing up, Kristin and I were like the male and female versions of one another. But you know, with kids, families, everyone is all just kind of spread out."