Tom Schwartz on Nearly Quitting Pump Rules, What Caused Sandoval’s Disastrous Appearance on Nick Viall’s Podcast, Suspending Filming at Schwartz & Sandy’s, and Dad and Brother’s Health, Plus Suffering “Brain Damage” Due to Sandoval Association

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Tom Schwartz on Nearly Quitting Pump Rules, What Caused Sandoval's Disastrous Appearance on Nick Viall’s Podcast, Suspending Filming at Schwartz & Sandy's, and Dad and Brother's Health, Plus Suffering "Brain Damage" Due to Sandoval Association

Credit: Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins

Tom Schwartz nearly left Vanderpump Rules on the heels of Tom Sandoval and Rachel “Raquel” Leviss‘ affair.

During a new interview, Schwartz, 40, opened up about the “identity crisis” and “brain damage” he sustained while coping with the fallout from “Scandoval” while also explaining why filming at Schwartz & Sandy’s was banned, opening up about his dad’s health crisis and brother’s addiction struggles, and refusing to speak of Sandoval’s recent comparison to George Floyd.

“People usually use the word traumatizing so loosely, but it was kind of traumatizing and daunting,” Schwartz said of “Scandoval” during a February 20 interview with Rolling Stone. “I don’t want to be singing a sad song too much, but at some point, I really was adversely affected by that whole thing. I kind of went into hiding. I didn’t turn into a full-blown recluse, but I was a bit of a hermit and a basket case — and not just because of the incident and having my reputation severely tarnished because of someone else’s actions, but other stuff was going on with my family, and I was still coming out of the divorce. I was just f*cking sad, to be honest, having almost lost loved ones.”

“I gotta be honest, I kind of lost myself the past year or two. I did. I had a bit of an identity crisis,” he admitted. “I think I cowered under the unrelenting hate … I’m chill to a fault. I had never been under so much scrutiny, and it was scary. I think it broke me.”

After noting that he’s since come back from the identity crisis, Schwartz said he questioned whether he should return to reality television.

“I remember one moment in particular when I just felt like I was drowning in negativity. I felt like [Schwartz & Sandy’s] had been severely compromised. The future of the bar was questionable at best; I had sunk so much money in there, and I felt so bleak and despondent,” he noted. “There might have been a few hopeless moments, even though it might have just been a performative thing, where I was like, ‘I think I’m good. I think I’m ready to step away and pursue something new. I can’t deal with this anymore.’ But I would wake up the next day and be like, wait, I love this. I love my Bravo family.”

Although Schwartz ultimately returned for season 11, he did not allow cameras into his and Sandoval’s restaurant.

“We actually didn’t film there this season for a variety of reasons,” he explained. “At one point, we were terrified about the future of the business. It just became a complete spectacle. It felt like the right decision to suspend filming there because we were on the ropes and we were having an existential crisis.”

Also amid season 11, Schwartz found himself having to discuss his family.

“When you’re doing the show, although when you’re in the trenches, it can be horrific, ultimately, after each season, I feel it’s cathartic. This is kind of my therapy,” he revealed. “Filming the show was an opportunity for me to use my friends as surrogate therapists and open up to them in a way that I don’t usually. Not that I’m not emotionally available. I am. But I just don’t like to burden people with my problems.”

In addition to his father nearly dying, Schwartz’s brother had become dependent on alcohol after using it to cope with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“It’s a nasty disease,” Schwartz said of alcoholism. “My brother was all but dead. They stamped his medical records with hospice. But now he’s got his glow back; he’s got his spirit back.”

As for his own drinking habits, which Schwartz reevaluated due to his brother’s struggles, he said he made the comment about being “sober curious” in a positive way.

“When I’m sober, I go hard in the paint. I love waking up early, working out, having green tea and matcha, detoxing, eating healthy, and intermittent fasting; I like all that stuff. But I also like falling apart. I think it’s good to fall apart once in a while, you know, and ultimately, moderation is key,” he shared.

Following a joint appearance with Sandoval on Nick Viall’s podcast, Sandoval faced backlash over calling Ariana petty for not allowing him to buy her out from their home and imploring her to move on, plus his late arrival, which he’s since credited to a long night of grief over the death of childhood friend Ali Rafiq, as Schwartz was met with a “pretty nice” response.

“I held [Sandoval] accountable, but I was also supportive,” he explained. “I didn’t realize it until afterward, but he was up all night, and he was on a bit of a bender. You never know when grief is going to strike, but for whatever reason, it just hit him that night. He was in such a manic whirlwind for so long. I don’t know if he ever had a proper moment to really mourn the loss of his childhood best friend, Ali. It’s not excusing him for showing up late and half-buzzed, half-baked, or whatever it was, but in hindsight, I kind of feel bad.”

Although Schwartz later accused Sandoval of “f*cking [embarrassing him],” he softened after learning the reason behind Sandoval’s behavior.

“Grieving someone, a loved one you’ve lost, and maybe hitting the bottle is something I’m sure we’ve all done at some point,” he reasoned.

Because Schwartz and Sandoval have long been thought of as a duo, Schwartz has gotten used to having to answer for his friend.

“I just have to remind people, I’m not Tom Sandoval’s sidekick, I’m not just Katie’s ex-husband. I’m Tom Schwartz,” he stated. “One thing that really sucked was having to constantly answer and report on someone else’s life, someone else’s affair, that was just not mine. It was hard … It caused me to have some sort of brain damage, honestly.”

“I didn’t want to make it a point to be out there defending, campaigning, or advocating for Team Sandoval, but I just wanted to remind people that he’s not a monster and not to retroactively tear apart the man’s entire life and everything he’s ever done. I mean, the guy was on suicide watch at one point. It was way overboard,” he added.

Teasing what is to come on the remainder of season 11, Schwartz spoke of the cast’s “borderline spiritual” trip to Lake Tahoe.

“I think it was a success. I think people just stopped not being upset with Tom but stopped vilifying him and dehumanizing him. He’s not a worm with a mustache,” he said of the upcoming dynamic shift.

Looking ahead to the potential 12th season of Pump Rules, Schwartz said he “definitely” sees the cast coming together to film.

“I still feel like there’s so much more to this group,” he noted. “[‘Scandoval’] kind of tore apart our group dynamic, but I like to think that we’re slowly rebuilding … If the show continues on, we will be filming [at Schwartz & Sandy’s] for sure. And I’m really excited for Something About Her to open, and TomTom is still thriving.”

Also during the interview, Schwartz said he’d love to join a future season of The Traitors.

“I like The Traitors and I’m manifesting this: a little guest appearance or a cameo on Top Chef,” he added.

While Schwartz’s interview with Rolling Stone came just after Sandoval shockingly compared the attention he received post-“Scandoval” to media coverage of George Floyd‘s death, his publicist informed the outlet in advance that he would not be commenting on Sandoval’s controversial statement.

Vanderpump Rules season 11 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Bravo.

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