The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star Russell Armstrong, in one of his final interviews before committing suicide last week, laid into Bravo producers for the way they portrayed him on the show.
Armstrong, the estranged husband of RHOBH's Taylor Armstrong, was found dead in his Mulholland Drive apartment Aug. 16. His contentious relationship with his wife was a main plot point in the show's first season and presumably is a big part of the second season.
But Armstrong maintained in an interview with The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, that he was not really the person viewers saw in the show. (Armstrong had recently expressed an interest in owning The Fix; his sister had been addicted to crystal meth and his father to alcohol, leading him to become an investor in several rehab centers).
"You shouldn't believe everything you see on TV," he said in a June conversation with The Fix founder and editor-in-chief Maer Roshan.
Armstrong called the Bravo producers "evil" and accused them of creating a "pathetic stock character."
"That's not the real Russell you see on the screen," he added. "It's just a guy I play on TV."
On the show, Armstrong was portrayed as a distracted workaholic who was interested more in making money than saving his marriage. But he claimed RHOBH wasn't actually reality.
"Everything you see on that show is bulls---," he said. "Those Bravo bastards take every little argument out of context and just magnify it. They think that tension drives ratings, and of course they're right. At first I was angry about all the bullshit, but then I realized it's not so bad to be a celebrity. The thing is, all the publicity has been great for my business. Taylor and I lie in bed watching these stories about our terrible marriage, and we laugh."
Last month, Taylor herself added fuel to the first when she filed for divorce, claiming her husband mentally and physically abused her for six years.
But when Armstrong met with The Fix, he described her as a "sensitive, sweet woman ... kind of like an angel. She is everything to me." He also claimed they were "really, really happy" repeatedly. (Roshan writes: "I remember thinking, the gentleman doth protest too much.")
In addition to the accusations of abuse, the media have reported that Armstrong regularly visited gay porn sites and was into S&M. His sister, Laurie Kelsoe, denied those accusations to The Fix.
"My brother is not gay," she said. "He's not into S&M. His biggest mistake was falling in love with Taylor. Which is a form of masochism, I guess."
She also took a dig at Bravo, saying no one from the network has contacted her or her family since Armstrong's death.
"Not even a bouquet of flowers -- only lawyers," she said, adding that Taylor also has yet to reach out.
Bravo did issue a statement following Armstrong's death, telling The Hollywood Reporter: "All of us at Bravo are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the Armstrong family at this difficult time.
Armstrong's family, meanwhile, has demanded that he be removed from the upcoming season of RHOBH.
“If they have a shred of decency, they won't make us live through this,” Kelsoe said.
Last week, Bravo head Frances Berwick confirmed that the network will re-edit the show in light of Armstrong's suicide. A source told The Hollywood Reporter that the network does not plan to cancel the season entirely but is likely to delay the premiere date beyond the scheduled Sept. 5 return.
Meanwhile, Armstrong's family is planning to sue Bravo for more than $50 million, claiming that it played a role in his death.
"I hold Bravo absolutely responsible," Kelsoe said. "When the show first started, he thought these people were his friends, but they ended up stabbing him in the back."