'Real World' Star Eric Nies on Testing Positive for COVID-19 During the Reunion (Exclusive)

Eric Nies

The star of 'The Real World: New York' opens up to ET about what forced him to isolate during filming.

While the seven cast members of The Real World: New York have reunited for the Paramount+ limited series, The Real World Homecoming, one of them is not living in the house. Eric Nies opens up to ET about testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the reunion and being forced to quarantine in a nearby hotel. 

“It was heartbreaking for me,” the former model says, adding that it was not about testing positive or having the coronavirus that upset him the most. “I flew all this way 29 years later. We were coming back to be together and to find out that I wasn’t gonna be there with them physically -- that was just heartbreaking. It was crushing.”

Instead of being the first person to get to enter the loft for a second time, as he did in 1992, Nies ended up alone in a hotel room for two weeks. “It felt like I was by myself and I didn’t have access to my world,” he shares, adding that it was “sad” he couldn’t be there.  

While he describes the experience as a roller coaster for his body, Nies got treated as soon as he got home so that he could still promote the show. “The turnaround time with this is really quick,” he admits. 

Although Nies may have been isolated during filming, he was still able to participate virtually. On the remaining episodes debuting Thursdays on the streaming network, he’ll be seen remotely revisiting key moments from season 1 with his fellow housemates.    

Despite joining the cast via video chats, Heather B. Gardner says the reunion felt incomplete. “We only got 50 percent of him,” she told Nies while he was co-hosting ET.  

Prior to the premiere, Nies opened up about what it meant to reunite with Gardner, Becky Blasband, Andre Comeau, Julie Gentry, Norman Korpi and Kevin Powell nearly 30 years later. “It was really emotional for me,” he said. “I think I cried a few times throughout.”

He added, “There were a lot of feelings and a lot of memories and reflecting on a lot of the different experiences that happened years ago.” 

During the original 13 episodes that first premiered in 1992, Nies was seen working as a model, garnering attention from the media for his sexy ads. During his time in the house, he grew smitten with Gentry, but nothing ever came of their flirtations. He also occasionally butted heads with Powell, but the two eventually put their friendship first. 

“Your whole life comes back into view,” Nies said of looking back on his life as a 20-yea-old, which was documented for three months during MTV’s brand new “social experiment.” “Reviewing your entire life's path [was] really, really emotional stuff.”

That said, he, along with the rest of his castmates, agrees that reuniting was well worth the experience -- especially one that changed TV forever, spawning a franchise that has run for 33 seasons and has defined a generation. 

When the cast was asked about whether or not they realized The Real World would prove to be a groundbreaking, iconic series, they all credit Nies for being able to see the potential. “Eric had a vision of that,” Blasband said, with Gardner adding, “I always say Eric knew it first.”

The Real World Homecoming: New York is now streaming on Paramount+