Mark L. Walberg talks coming back to host Temptation Island after 15 years

Photo credit: Mario Perez/USA Network, acquired from NBC Press Site
Photo credit: Mario Perez/USA Network, acquired from NBC Press Site /

Mark L Walberg talks Temptation Island’s new season, teases unpredictable relationship drama, and explains why the series is more relatable than ever before.

After 15 years off the air, one of the first controversial reality series is returning to screens with new couples, new singles, a lots of new drama. The unconventional dating series, Temptation Island, is set to return January 15 to USA Network (but you can watch the premiere early online).  The reality show follows four couples who are looking to find out whether they’re ready to commit to marriage, or if it’s time to go their separate ways.

The couples are brought to a secluded island and introduced to the gorgeous villas where they’re staying — but the men and women are quickly separated and introduced to their new roommates: 12 eligible singles at each house, all of whom are also on the island for love. Mark L Walberg, who hosted the original series in the early 2000s, returned as the host, and we recently caught up with him to learn more about what we can expect in the new season.

While most of the series will feel very familiar to fans who tuned in to past seasons, there are a few big changes made by producers to shake up the stakes, and it means any new relationships developed on the island are about to get much more complex. “All the promos make it look insane all the time, like party, party, party – but the fact is, we focused on the people who were coming to the island who were really looking for love,” Walberg said. “So, one of the big differences is that singles, who were sort of just tempters in the first seasons — they were basically there to tempt — they also have stories in this round.”

Temptation Island Mark L Walberg
Photo by: John Tsiavis/USA Network, acquired from NBC Press Site /

Not only were the singles chosen based on the couples’ dating preferences, but Walberg assured us that the singles have also come to the island for a reason. “They’ve come from long relationships that had problems, or they come from recent breakups, or just haven’t been able to find ‘the one’,” he said. “That story is going two ways. So that, I think, is a big difference, more like what we’re used to seeing [on reality series].”

But it’s not just the show that’s changed how it will structure dating, Temptation Island has also been influenced by the cultural changes in dating thanks to social media and digital apps, making the series much more relatable for audiences. “So much has changed with all the dating apps and swiping left and right, and all that stuff. So the concept of temptation is even more of a thing because, I mean, the whole courtship ritual now is basically: you get a profile, you check it out, if they’re hot and they kind of think you’re hot, then you start texting,” he said. “You have a whole relationship before you even meet. The whole concept of temptation is far more dangerous now, because you can be tempted by your phone every minute.”

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And while our use of dating apps will add to the reason that Temptation Island is more timely, Walberg feels the show will find success because, while courtship has changed, “the concept of finding love is as old as Shakespeare or the Bible.” And what’s more relatable than trying to find your one true love?

“That’s relatable to everyone,” he explained. “As crazy as it sounds, people jumped to it immediately. And I’m kind of in that boat… the most relatable thing in the world is to try and find the person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life.”

So what can we expect to see in the first few episodes of USA Network’s Temptation Island? Walberg was confident that we’re going to see a little bit of everything.

“I think people are going to love the show. There’s so much drama, so much crazy drama that people love. Just drama: sexy, funny and confrontational, and at the heart of it, it gets down to some real, real questions,” he shared. “It sounds ridiculous, but it does come down to the real question of evaluating right now how you feel about one another before you go for the rest of your life, and that gets real relatable really quick.”

Even as the seasoned host of Temptation Island, Walberg shared that all of his predictions about what happened this season wound up being completely wrong. “All of my preconceived notions when I met them were almost opposite,” he said.

“I think if you watch these trailers, you watch the promo, you watch the first episode, you have to hang out for a few episodes. Nothing is as it seems. It all goes nuts. It goes nuts in a way that ultimately… I really believe at the end of the day, everybody gets the answers that they came there to get. It may have not been the question they thought. The question may change, but everybody who leaves may have some pain and some drama, but at the end of the day, I think they’re all better off for the outcome.”

Watch a preview of Temptation Island below:

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Temptation Island premieres January 15 at 10/9c on USA Network. Follow along with Mark L Walberg and the series on Twitter, and be sure check out the first episode early to catch a glimpse at this season’s drama.