Still your average Joe! More than a decade after Joe Millionaire hunk Evan Marriott captivated America's attention, the former reality star attended the Evolution of Relationship Reality Shows discussion at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, on Thursday, Mar. 19, where he looked completely unrecognizable.
Marriott, now 40, was a working-class construction worker in 2003, when he was plucked out by FOX to portray a millionaire with 20 women competing for his affection. (The last woman standing by Marriott in the series finale was Zora Andrich. The couple split the $1 million, and ultimately, went their separate ways.)
Since Marriott's stint on the series, and subsequent (but brief) rise to fame, he has settled for a more low-key life. Us Weekly was at the discussion presented by WE tv, where Marriott — wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, and sporting a full Duck Dynasty-style beard — shared the latest updates on his life.
"I went back to work. I'm a contractor," he told Us and other attendees during the panel Q&A. "I was saying backstage that after the show, you don't know what to do, where to go with your life. Some friends got together, had a little intervention, a come to Jesus moment."
His friends delivered the sad truth. "[They] said, 'You can't come by our offices and just hang out anymore, and say: 'What are you doing today?' It was like, 'What are YOU doing today?' And I was just going to the bar."
Marriott said that was the turning point. "I started a business for myself and everything has been great," he noted. "I did my first job... I got it, and literally was almost in tears. I called my dad and said, 'I feel like I've just been paroled, this is where I should have been, you know?'"
The Virginia Beach native also spoke in detail about the trappings of fame, especially in the context of reality TV. "I mean, you can't explain it. No one [will truly understand] unless you've been there," Marriott noted. "My parents have known me for 40 years — the closest people to me — and they don't get it. My mom still can't figure out why I'm not still on TV. I'm like, 'Come on, really?' She had a hard time figuring it out."
Marriott said the show made him an overnight star — literally. "It's as simple as this: I was staying at Central Park South, the night of the first show," he reflected. "I went to bed as Evan Marriott and the next day, when I went out on the street, people were literally — this is not an exaggeration — people were at stoplights in their cars, yelling out at me, 'Joe! Joe!' And I'm going, 'Who the hell is Joe?'"
"It just happened — talk about overnight," he said. "I didn't know about success, but notoriety. And it's... it's... you can't explain it, it's really powerful. It's really powerful when not just your friends know you, but everybody thinks they know you. They think they do. And depending on how you take it, it's sometimes not that pleasant."