Tom Sandoval isn't denying -- or accepting -- being labeled a "pot-stirrer" on Vanderpump Rules.
"I feel like we know we're doing our job in the sense when you talk about the one thing that you don't want to talk about," he tells ET. "And that's kind of the way it works."
"It's an unspoken rule," Tom Schwartz adds. "We all agreed to practice radical honesty with each other. You know? And it's -- not in a contrived way, or forced, or self-produced way, but in an organic -- it's just, it comes with the territory."
Sandoval was the only Vanderpump Rules cast member to challenge Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright over their choice to not fire the pastor for their wedding, who had a history of making homophobic comments, until Lisa Vanderpump confronted them about it -- at least on camera. ET sat down with the Toms inside the newly expanded TomTom, which now includes a Garden Bar, to get their take on that and everything else going down on season eight of VPR.
"You know, Jax being a friend of mine, I felt like I could come to him with some questions and concerns," Sandoval recalls, noting how he didn't exactly like the fact that Jax and Brittany waited for Lisa to say something about the pastor to enact change when fans had been digging up old comments from the pastor for months.
"I had some feelings about it and questions, yeah," he continues. "Other people did as well … And, you know, when I pulled Jax aside for a question, which was just meant to be between me and him -- just have that quick conversation and be done with it -- and then he gets up and, like, turns it into this whole thing."
Jax, Brittany and almost the entire friend group -- save for Sandoval’s girlfriend, Ariana Madix -- exploded back on Sandoval after he asked Jax about the pastor, slamming him for stirring up drama so close to the wedding. By that point, Jax and Brittany had already decided to swap in Lance Bass as their officiant.
"It's not easy to ask those questions," Sandoval adds. "It wasn't easy for me to ask Jax about that, especially knowing how reactive he can be. But I felt like it was very important to me to ask that question. To find out, to hear what he had to say, and it's unfortunate that I never got to hear it."
At the time, Schwartz sided with Jax, admitting to Sandoval that this was the first time in their years of friendship he can ever remember being on such opposite pages. Now, having seen everything that went down, Schwartz confesses that he was "missing information."
"Obviously, I have feelings on what he said -- I'm disgusted with what the pastor said," Schwartz shares. "I don't agree with that sentiment. I wouldn't want someone who did believe the things he said, you know, ordaining my wedding, because I feel like it would be tainted. But you know, when it was initially happening in the moment, I was siding with Jax because I thought it seemed like he was putting him on trial."
The incident led to Jax disinviting Sandoval from the wedding, essentially firing him as one of his best men. From there, Sandoval sent Jax an apology text, which was seemingly accepted, as Sandoval was ultimately reinstated as part of the wedding party.
"I did feel bad about it," Sandoval notes. "I didn't want it to turn into that at all. I feel bad about that. That was like the last thing I wanted."
But when Jax sat down with ET in January, he admitted that he regretted reinviting Sandoval to his and Brittany’s big day.
"That was really heartbreaking to hear, and very hurtful," Sandoval says. "It feels a little bit like a smear campaign. Because, when it did come to the wedding, I went -- I feel like I went above and beyond to prove my worth and I also enjoyed doing it. You know, I'm good at doing those kind of things, it makes me -- I feel important. I feel worth something, in a sense."
"I don't know why Jax would regret [that]… we had an amazing time," he adds. "I felt like I added to the experience. That's the one thing, I really wanted to add to the experience. Whether it was making his wedding a much easier time, more fun experience, less stressful. I felt like I did that. I felt like I accomplished that goal. We had a lot of fun … we were in a really great place."
Sandoval teases that something rather catastrophic is coming that will make Jax look bad before season's end; so, Sandoval alleges, Jax is aiming to paint a certain picture of Sandoval before then to save face.
"He gets very reactive toward the end of our season," Sandoval claims. "And because of that, now he's trying to justify that, I feel like. So, that's why when I say a 'smear campaign,' he's trying to slowly, like, peck away at who I am as a person, like my integrity."
Sandoval says, today, he’s "not a fan" of Jax, but is optimistic about the future of their friendship. They've known each other for nearly two decades, so Sandoval isn't ready to write off Jax, but he's also not sure how to repair things.
"It's really tough, it's really tough with him," he laments. "It's really tough to get him to see actual reality instead of his warped sort of like propaganda reality."
Sandoval notes that, historically, he's always reached a place where he's conceded to Jax, threw his hands up, shrugged and moved on, and he admits that could be an option this time, too. Making things tougher, though, is Jax's string of attacks on Ariana. Since the season started, Jax has put down Ariana in multiple interviews, questioning her sexuality and her integrity, amongst other things. (For the record, Sandoval says Ariana being bisexual doesn't impact their relationship at all, and is not the reason why the couple will never marry.)
All this comes on top of an already rough season for Ariana, who is candidly sharing her battle with depression on the show. On the most recent episode, Ariana announced to Sandoval that she wanted to "leave my life" after attempting to open up to the women of the show.
"Obviously it kills me to see Ariana so hurt and feel so vulnerable," Sandoval says. "Obviously I'm here for her and, in that group, she doesn't have a safe space. It's frustrating to see somebody like Lala [Kent], who's like one second totally OK with people saying mean nasty things about Ariana that are completely not true and talking negatively about her and then sort of getting emotional and saying like, 'This is a safe place.' It’s like, girl you are not -- you are apparently not a safe place."
"She's always been kinda wary as the gang in general," Schwartz notes. "She loves us individually without a doubt. We all have great relationships with Ariana. But I feel like as a group, as a whole, I feel like she's been -- wary’s probably too strong of a word, but she has mixed feelings about the group as a whole."
Schwartz, meanwhile, is standing by his wife, Katie Maloney-Schwartz, as she and Stassi Schroeder are taking time away from Kristen Doute. The guys give a 50/50 shot of the Witches of WeHo making up before Stassi and Beau Clark's wedding in the fall; currently, Kristen is not on the guest list.
"It's played out in every different combination within that little group of three, but this time it feels different," Schwartz says of the falling out. "It feels more permanent."
Schwartz notes that the whole group is growing up; the stage of their lives where friends serve as family is starting to evolve, as they all get married and start planning families of their own. That doesn't mean they'll lose contact or closeness, though. In fact, Katie, Lala, Stassi and Brittany all have a "pregnancy pact," with plans to have children around the same time as one another.
"I love kids, I'll make a baby tonight!" Schwartz exclaims, before backtracking. "I'm down, I’m ready ... I am ready to have babies. I talk a big game, but when it comes down to the brass tax, to actually making a baby, I get cold feet. Um… it's scary!"
"I think I'm ready," he continues, seemingly talking himself into the idea. "I've always loved kids, I've just never had any of my own … I wouldn't want to be too old of a dad, you know? I want to be able to play catch with my kids."
Schwartz clarifies that it's a "tentative pact" and "nobody signed anything," but he does think it's a good idea.
"I'll just surprise everyone and just have a kid before everyone else," Sandoval interjects."Kidding!"
Sandoval and Ariana have been adamant that they’ll never have kids, on top of never getting married. As for Schwartz, he actually got married again to Katie while filming season eight of Vanderpump Rules. Well, technically, married for the first time. It turns out, Schwartz missed a key element to making his marriage legal when he and Katie tied the knot back in 2016.
"I sorta swept something under the rug… this little thing called a marriage license," he confesses. "But apparently it is kinda important for, like, taxes and other legal reasons."
Fans will get to see Schwartz and Katie's "I do" redo in the coming weeks, which features Sandoval in an Elvis get-up, Stassi in a nun's habit and other surprises.
"It's one of the happiest moments on the show," he says. "I've had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but, yeah, it's something I'm very fond of and I would love to gush about it right now, but I should wait."
As for what else is still to come, Schwartz and Sandoval promise lots of surprises, describing the season as a "roller coaster."
"It's one of my favorite seasons, and not because it was enjoyable the whole time," Sandoval shares.
"If you don't hate yourself by the end of the season then you didn't do your job," Schwartz adds.
Someone who really might feel that way on the cast is James Kennedy, who is under fire for how he treats his girlfriend, Raquel Leviss, repeatedly speaking down to her and hurling insults her way. Sandoval, a longtime defender of James, admits there’s no defending James this time around.
"I think it's awful," Sandoval says. "I think James really struggles with -- him and Jax are similar in that way, they communicate very reactive. They go over, over the top, you know what I mean? It's like an over compensation of a response or whatever, and I think it's something he should work on. We all have things we can work on with ourselves, that's not one of James' strongest things."
"It seems like he's almost too comfortable doing it, you know?" Schwartz adds. "I know he loves her and needs to work on that."