'Winter House's Austen Kroll Reacts to Lindsay Hubbard Blocking Him, Pausing Their Friendship (Exclusive)

ET video chats with 'Southern Charm' star Austen Kroll about his unexpected falling out with Lindsay Hubbard after a 'WWHL' appearance.

Austen Kroll may have pressed some of Lindsay Hubbard's buttons on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, just not the unfollow button. That was Lindsay's doing. Well, actually, the "block" button.

"I would never do that," Austen confesses to ET over video chat. "It began to circulate that we had unfollowed each other and I was like, 'Oh, well that's news to me.' I sent her a text, like, 'Linds, our friendship is important to me. I hope that we get a chance to speak in the future...' kind of thing ... [and] that's where it's been since."

Summer House OG Lindsay blocked her Winter House co-star on social media two weeks ago (resulting in what looked like an "unfollow" from Austen), after a tense appearance together on WWHL, in which Andy asked Austen to choose between Lindsay -- who was seated in the front row of the taping -- and their housemate, Ciara Miller, in a game of superlatives including "better cuddler" and "better kisser." More often than not, Austen chose Ciara.

"We went on a commercial break or whatever, I looked at Lindsay and I was like, 'We're good! We're good, right? We're good.' And she was like, 'We're good. It's fine. We're good. It's fine,'" Austen recalls. "So I thought at that point, I was like, 'OK, cool. She doesn't care that I said Ciara was a better kisser.'"

"I was trying to be as peaceful as possible, but when Andy starts to ask questions, you're just kind of shooting from the hip," he continues. "You're shooting from the hip, you're trying to make it short, sweet and as entertaining as possible and I certainly did not mean to make Lindsay feel as badly as she's making it seem that I did, as if I attacked her or kicked her dog or something."

"Maybe Lindsay just shouldn't have been there that night," he adds. "I think that her emotions were riding high, too, because of the episode."

The fateful WWHL appearance came after episode 2 of Winter House's debut season, which featured Lindsay's arrival to a house in motion. Austen and Ciara were already hooking up, seemingly throwing a wrench in Lindsay's plan to pursue something with Austen on her own. On her first night in the house, Lindsay drunkenly confessed to being in love with the Kings Calling Brewing Co. founder.

"I've never seen her act like that before an episode aired and she was just a little nervous/embarrassed, probably, of how things played out a little bit, right?" Austen surmises. "She was like, 'Oh my god, I literally clapped and told you that I loved you.' Things that she didn't remember until she watched it."

"So [after the taping], we were in the back and I was like, 'All right, when we going out?' I thought that everyone was good and she was like, 'I'm just going to go home,'" Austen shares. "Lindsay has thick skin, I don't know why-- I definitely did not attack her character."

In the weeks after the appearance, Lindsay appeared on the Reality Life With Kate Casey podcast and shined some light on her decision to block Austen. "At some point, you know, I just, I can’t, like, be OK with keeping that kind of person in my life," she said. "I don’t need to train a 34-year-old man how to be a good friend to me. It’s just not in the cards."

"How do I respond to that while keeping it all in check?" he asks himself when read back the quote. "I don't agree with any of that. She is now dating another person, I don't know why she needs to have me in her life as much as she has and had. It can be an overbearing process where it's like, 'OK. I'm going on Watch What Happens Live...' And she's like, 'OK, well, I'm going to come!' And you're like, 'OK, come on then, Linds, but do not make this day about you.' And that's what she tried to do the whole day. The whole entire day, from the moment that I landed in New York, she tried to make the moment about her. She was like, 'Oh my gosh, have you seen the episode? Oh my gosh, you have to watch it. Andy's going to give you s**t for it.' And I'm like, 'I'm good. I'm good. I am all good. Are you good?' And then when we got there, I guess Andy asked her to sit in the audience and just the dramatics of it all. She fell on the ground and was rolling around and was like, 'Oh! They want me to be in the audience?!'

"I was like, 'Linds, this was your goal from the moment that you got here. Come on then, come out in the audience but it's not going to change my answers,'" he continues to share. "And I shouldn't have to train a 36-year-old woman how to not act at Watch What Happens Live."

Zack DeZon / Bravo

Austen has not spoken to Lindsay since that night, any reach outs from him to her going ignored. Austen is leaving it be for now.

"I have so much going on right now," he says. "I'm filming [Southern Charm] and there's a lot of things happening -- and Lindsay definitely has been a part of my life. I would certainly like to mend, but what would have to happen at that point is it's like a different type of friendship. It's not the, like, waking each other up in the morning with phone calls kind of friendship or coming to my Watch What Happens. Or vice versa. ... I think that the friendship would just move in a different direction, right?"

"I would never say to throw away a friendship unless it really was awful or toxic, but if she thinks that I'm not a good friend, then I just hope she comes around," he says. 

This was already a complicated friendship, having blurred itself into hook-up territory in the past. 

"It's gotten me in trouble in the past," Austen notes. "I think that we're one way and she thinks that we're another way, and of course it's my fault that I thought that it was this way. I'm just used to getting blamed for all this stuff at this point in time. It's like, come on. You know? I didn't ask for that."

"I would hate to think that I led her on because it's certainly not what I did, or my intention," he declares.

This is a point of contention on Winter House, as Lindsay claims Austen promised to date her on New Year's Eve. Austen has a bit of a different recollection of that promise, and on a different timeline, too.

"The year in question is 2019. 2020, I was in Charleston, I had my hands full. I was with another person and enjoying myself, so I was not calling up Linds then and telling her that we should date and all this stuff," he says. "It was 2019 at [Madison Square Garden] -- I've come to MSG 2017, 2018, 2019 to go see Phish, she knows this. Every year, we've met up either beforehand or afterwards of the show. So I call her in 2019 and things were not going well with my now-ex. I was like, 'My love life is in shambles, Linds. Maybe we should just date.' And if you haven't called up your best friend at some point and been like, 'Maybe we should just cut through all the bulls**t and maybe it'd be easier if you and I just dated...' And that's what it was. I'm sure that I was like, 'Linds, I love you. 2020 is the year.' I don't know."

"I'm not invalidating what she said that I said, but I just, once again, after her and I visited that part of our relationship in 2017 or whenever it was, I had thought that we had just moved on," he adds. "Now we were in this realm of besties and we didn't have to worry about that s**t anymore because we'd already visited it."

All these feelings are compounded by the fact that Lindsay has seemingly moved on, with much speculation surrounding what appears to be a rekindled romance between her and her Summer House co-star/bestie, Carl Radke. The pair has played coy when pressed on their relationship status.

"I'm like, and aren't you dating someone new?" Austen asks. "Focus on that. Focus on that. I'm doing good now, life is dandy. We don't have to be in constant contact like that."

"If I come into the city, it's like, 'Come over. Come over. Come over. Come over. Come over,'" he shares. "And I'm like, 'Linds, I'm doing my own thing over here. If you'd like to meet for happy hour, I'd love to do that.'"

There will be more of this story unfolding as Winter House continues to air, and even more when Summer House and Southern Charm return to TV in 2022. Austen is expected to appear on both returning shows. 

"The tangled web we weave," Austen cracks. "I feel like I always am talking to someone that's like, 'So how do you feel, man?' And I'm like, 'I never stop. Never on a break.' ... I'm watching what happened six months in the past and now I'm having to film my present. I'm like, take me back to Winter House."

Winter House is where Austen fell in "like" with Ciara, the nurse/model who was still a relative newbie to the group. Her first season of Summer House aired while the group filmed Winter House. The two admit to dating after filming wrapped, but opted to call it off before things got too serious.

"As much as I hate to admit it, I just wasn't fully over [my ex] and at a place to move on like that," Austen says of the decision. "I was like, I don't want to let down someone like her, or anyone for that matter. I don't want to be like that. I don't want to be a half-present boyfriend. It was easy to be in it and to have fun in the house, because we were on vacation, and then when we left, yeah, we hung out in New York and she came down to Charleston, and it was just full of laughs and this and that. Then I was like, 'OK, but you're flying back to Atlanta,' [which] is where she was living at the time. So that's kind of where it was left. We talk, but never like it was in the house once life began to move on."


Ciara recently told ET she still has feelings for Austen and would revisit something romantic in the future. Austen agrees.

"You never say never and she's wonderful," he gushes. "My head space is definitely in a different place than it was then. Then it was fresher, now I've moved on. I'm smelling the roses and life is wonderful."

When news first broke that Austen and Ciara might be dating, Ciara denied it to ET.

"She full on denied it because I think that she thought that she had to," Austen says. "She was like, 'Oh my god, I'm going to be in trouble if it comes from me that I let out this big spoiler,' or something. I don't know what I would've done either. I would've given you the classic answer of like, 'You're just going to have to wait and find out,' or something cheesy like that. I remember asking her and she was like, 'I thought I was going to get in trouble!' I was like, 'No, it's all good.' Once again, it takes a lot to really offend me. I've been through it a lot."

There's been much criticism of this pairing, or really, any coupling for Austen, even from his and Ciara's Winter House co-star, Paige DeSorbo, who remarks in the season trailer, "Hold on, let me get this right: Three girls fighting over Austen Kroll? I'm confused."

"I was just sitting there like, 'Really? This trailer is so happy and fun and lighthearted and Paige is the one to dog me,'" Austen confesses. "I was like, 'Paige!' She was like, 'I'm sorry.' And once again, it's just one of those things you compartmentalize and you pack deep, deep down and that's going to translate to lots of hours of therapy later on in life. I don't know. I don't get it. But yeah, it makes me laugh."

Austen says he was hoping Winter House would be a different experience for him when it came to audience reaction, a chance to just let loose and have fun rather than be caught up in the drama that took over his life the last couple seasons on Southern Charm

Zack DeZon / Bravo

"I was like, look, they're going to see a funnier, lighthearted, really I just want to have fun and make people around me have fun," he says. "And I don't know why these girls are drawn to me. I think that I'm pretty funny and great, but I don't know. It angers women for some reason, I don't know why. I don't know why."

Part of this puzzle may be that, according to Ciara herself, she and Austen fell for each other in stolen, off-camera moments. 

"There's a moment where we're riding in the car back from dinner, and I was flirting with her at dinner and leaving dinner, and just very subtle flirting, and then I was like, 'Paige, you go in that car. Ciara, you come in this car. You two have to be apart for once in your life. Now come in this car.' And then we were singing karaoke songs and that's the first time that we kind of held hands, touched hands a little bit," Austen shares. "So yeah, there were tiny moments that would've been impossible to capture. That you can only describe as like a feeling, or just, you knew."

"If you were to watch that, you'd probably be like, 'They're not flirting at all,'" he adds. "But for me, my heart was moving a little bit. Yeah, you can't tell that that moment was palpable but it was for me."

Now single, Austen says he's "cautiously dating" after years of stepping straight into relationships.

"I'm so used to -- and what we've seen for God's sake on Charm, the first season was Chelsea [Meissner], and then the next season I had another girlfriend that was on it briefly. After that, it's been Madison [LeCroy]. Then it's like, I go to Winter House and I meet another girl who's great and I'm like, 'Austen, you don't have to date every single girl you meet if they are great,'" he says. "I was definitely trying just a different approach. You don't have to meet a girl and think she's pretty and take her on a date and then keep on dating. All of the sudden, it's like, wait, you just got out of something."

Austen's last relationship with Southern Charm co-star Madison ended for good in late 2020, though the two continued to talk after their breakup. Some of those conversations are seemingly yet-to-be seen, as teased in the Winter House season trailer (Madison is the third woman Paige references in the quote above, joining Lindsay and Ciara in the love quadrangle). However, Madison is now engaged to a different man and Austen says he is "absolutely" keeping his distance from her.

"That's how you truly have to be," he declares. "You aren't a part of my life anymore, and you're going to start a new family and I wish you the best, but I don't have to send a gift basket and she shouldn't need that from me. It's like, no, we didn't work out. Moving on. Of course I'm going to see her around town and on camera and I just try to keep it-- let's see if she's capable of keeping her insults to a minimum."

Winter House airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.


Latest News