ET pulled a fast one on Captain Lee Rosbach, swapping in former 'Below Deck' stew Kate Chastain as host to talk Emmys and season 9.
Captain Lee Rosbach's seen a lot in his decades of yachting, but there are still new experiences to be had, like winning an Emmy! Below Deck is up for its first-ever Emmy Awards at the 2021 show, nominated for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program and Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program, something the longtime star of the Bravo hit is still wrapping his mind around.
"The whole experience has been surreal, to say the least, because I'm like that Joe Walsh song -- '...just an ordinary, average guy...' -- period," Captain Lee remarks to ET over video chat. "I do my job, go to work, but now I get filmed while I'm doing it, but it hasn't changed how I do my job. I never considered my -- and I still don't consider myself -- a celebrity, but then here comes this whole Emmy thing and it's like, wow. It's just like, the realization of it all just hits you, and you're like, oh s**t."
It's a surprise but not a shock that Below Deck is finally being recognized by the Television Academy eight seasons into the show's run. Captain Lee, his crew and all the unseen production members pulled off season 8 just as the coronavirus pandemic sprung into action in spring of 2020.
"We do have a lot of challenges, because our situation is very fluid and it changes, the dynamics and the dichotomy of everything just changes with every passing moment: rough weather, bad weather, unruly guests, pick something that could go wrong and odds are, it will happen," he notes, speaking of a non-COVID affected season.
Season 8 was the first season since Below Deck's debut season that did not feature chief stewardess Kate Chastain, who hung up her uniform for a life on land after more than a decade in the industry. She and Captain Lee have maintained a friendship outside of work (something Kate partially attributes to Lee's wife, Mary Anne, and the wagyu beef chili dogs she makes), but Lee was still surprised to see his one-time co-star pop up on his Zoom with ET to take over the interview.
"You're gonna pay!" he cracks to Kate, who blows right past the joke of a threat to ask, "What do you make of the show finally becoming Emmy nominated the season that I left? Do you think that's like driving a boat all the way across an ocean and pulling it into dock, only for the charter guests to thank the deckhands?"
"You are definitely part of the reason that we're where we're at now," Lee says. "Without you, no, we wouldn't be here."
Just before Captain Lee and Kate hopped on the Zoom, Bravo released the trailer for season 9, which features a brand new chief stewardess, Heather Chase. The newcomer has both Lee and Kate's stamp of approval.
"I love her," Kate proclaims. "I think she's fantastic, and I think she's going to be a superstar."
"Here's a little teaser: I was surprised that, given her job performance, she's actually as young as she is," Lee offers up. "I didn't expect that level of maturity. I didn't expect that maturation level to hit until she was older than she actually is. She was more than willing to, as you have proven in the past, just roll with it and get it done without b**ching and pissing and moaning and complaining."
The real shock of the season 9 trailer is that Captain Lee will be MIA for the first episodes, unable to join the crew until a charter or two into the season.
"Yeah, I wasn't happy about that," Lee laments. "That was a little deer-in-the-headlight moment for Eddie. He was just like, what? That's on you, buddy."
Eddie would be returning Bosun Eddie Lucas, who is back for his fifth season. Chef Rachel Hargrove is back, as well, after her memorable debut in season 8, in which she shocked Captain Lee with some outlandish behavior and use of language like, "Eat my cooter." Kate previously worked with Rachel on a pre-Below Deck boat, but didn't offer Lee any heads up about her antics.
"I don't think that any captain should go into a new crew with preconceived notions or predispositions to how they're going to behave, because it inhibits your ability to think on your feet and to adapt to the situation as it evolves, and that's what you're getting paid the big bucks for," he shares, admitting he never wants a warning about a potential hire. "
"Whether there's cameras there or not, that's irrelevant," he adds. "You're getting paid the money to make sure that you make the guest experience as good as you possibly can, with the material that you have to work with."
The trailer hints at some friction between Eddie and Rachel, with Rachel seemingly calling him out for comments he made behind her back on season 8. But, according to Lee, that's not the big drama of season 9. He promises something that tops the Delores moment from last year. For those who need a refresher, Delores was the charter guest who jumped off the yacht at night after a stern warning from Captain Lee. She was ultimately kicked off the vessel, a first for Lee.
"If you thought I was harsh on Delores, let's rewrite that chapter," he teases, noting that not one but two charter guests get on his bad side in season 9. "After all was said and done, you know how I feel about redemption, and they did redeem themselves. Maybe."
Watch the video above for even more reveals, teases and fun from Captain Lee and Kate.
Below Deck returns to Bravo for season 9 on Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Before then, tune into CBS for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to see if the show takes home a statue or two.
"To me, I'm just still a captain doing my job and I get filmed doing it, but then when the TV Academy says, 'Oh, wait a minute. This is something to be noticed,' you're like, what just happened? You realize it's been eight years," Lee says, reflecting again on the honor. "Gosh, it's such a good feeling. It truly is. I don't know how else to describe it. I am very humbled by it because I don't think I did anything to deserve this, so it's just like, OK, let's not get carried away, guys."
Fans can also see more of Kate every Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Below Deck Mediterranean Galley Talk, where she and other franchise alumni react to the current season of Below Deck Mediterranean, which airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. Episodes of that show are available to stream a week early on Peacock.