Interview: Brendon & Rachel talk 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars'
Does anybody still remember the "Amazing Race: All-Stars" finale?
I'm apologizing both for how long it took me to get to these exit interviews -- Last week was a bear -- but really I'm apologizing because you still remember what was almost certainly the dullest finale in the 24-season history of the Emmy-winning juggernaut.
Brendon & Rachel probably haven't forgotten the finale. That's because they made it all the way to the last Leg of "The Amazing Race" for the second time and, once again, finished in third. And this time, they didn't really do anything wrong. They got a bad cab driver. Yes, they got a little bit lost wandering around the Mirage in Las Vegas, but they were already behind the other two teams entirely because of their cabbie in a Leg that didn't feature a single challenge that allowed teams to wreath themselves in any glory at all.
Had they won, Brendon & Rachel would have been celebrated by their cadre of passionate fans and lambasted by their equally passionate cadre of haters, a polarization that should have been static after two seasons of "Big Brother" and a previous season of "Amazing Race." But I'll admit it: I kinda rooted for the entity known as Brenchel this season. They were kind to Margie & Luke when they had no reason to be kind. Rachel kept her bawling to a relative minimum. And in the controversy of U-Turn-Gate, I took Brendon & Rachel's side, because... Why not?
This was a filibustering interview, which shouldn't be a surprise, so there were a few questions I didn't get to ask that were on my list. That happened a lot with my finale-week reality interviews. This must have been The Spring of the Chatty Reality Competitor.
Still, Rachel & Brendon have things to say about the lame closing Leg, the disappointing All-Stars competition, their reality TV future and stay tuned for at least one vintage Rachel over-share towards the end...
Click through for the full Q&A...
HitFix: I guess my first question to you is did briefly getting lost in the Mirage take enough time that you don’t feel like it was a slow cabbie who cost you a million dollars?
Brendon: No, no it was the slow cabbie.
Brendon: And to say "slow cabbie" is a misnomer. I don’t even know that she knew how to drive a car.
Rachel: Yeah, literally. But, no, we were only in the Mirage for probably two minutes and when we got to the top of the Mirage Dave & Connor were still getting dressed. So I don’t think that that even really cost us that much time. It was just more like a frustration kind of thing.
HitFix: So you tried to buy off the other cabbie to take that cab. Was there anything else that you feel like you could have done given how important that cabbie proved to be to you guys?
Brendon: I’d say one of the hard parts is where we were at. The Neon Nraveyard and everywhere we were driving to, there was no cabs. So they were places that were off the beaten Strip and it was also late and there was just no cabbies in the area. So we really had no other choice but either – the only other cab in sight was the Girls. So that was basically our Hail Mary, because at that point even dumping the cab and trying to split the cab, on the way back over to the Mirage, there was like no cabs out on the street because we were so far off the Strip. So that was also a major problem is that everywhere we went there was no cabs available. They were pretty much nowhere to be seen. And we would have had to like drive to a casino, get a cab, then get back on track and that in itself probably would have been enough to put us back.
HitFix: Now, Brendon, as you did that last task and you jumped out of the helicopter, how much hope, I guess did you have that there was something else still coming – another challenge waiting at the bottom?
Brendon: I didn’t. I didn’t. I pretty much knew when we got to the helicopter that that was it. And it sucks because it’s hard to do the last task especially knowing that it doesn’t really matter. That’s kind of the hard part. But, you know, you still do it. We still always finished the Race and, you know, we’re always gonna race like we’re in last racing for first, you know? So and it was still an amazing experience. I’d never been skydiving before and Rachel did that last time in our Race so it was a lot of fun, especially doing it over Vegas. It was a lot of fun.
Rachel: Yeah, it was super fun. I think, too, it said in the clue that you would meet Phil at the end and we knew like after we opened the clue, but going up to it we totally thought we were gonna have at least two more challenges. We thought we would have another challenge. And we thought that we would have like our final big challenge. So going into it we were like, "Okay, we can still make up time and we have a good cab now. We can totally still make up time."
HitFix: Okay. I mean you guys are competitive. This was an All-Star season. Were you hoping for something harder in a Final Leg? Were you disappointed by what you got?
Rachel: Absolutely. I was hoping for, well for two things: I was hoping for one, for the contestants on "The Amazing Race" to be a little more competitive and act like it was an All-Star season. It felt like they were just helping each other the whole Race. And then we were a 100 percent, we were expecting it to be harder. Like I trained for the race. I ran four miles every morning. I did an hour of yoga. I did an hour of weight training. Like literally we were training every single day like an athlete trains for the Race because we expected it to be an All-Star season. And Brendon and I were thinking of all the different crazy things that it could have been that was like could have been crazy. So we were expecting something a little bit more difficult.
Brendon: Rachel and I are, we are professional competition reality athletes. [They laugh.] We're on the show, we treat it like it’s a job so when we’re racing we take note down. We write down everything. We know everywhere we’re going. I mean I’m trying to calculate and estimate miles in case there's anything with distances, cities, everything we go through, tasks, what they were wearing. So at the end of the Race, we were well prepared. We were ready going into that for some tasks had any sort of memory or recall or anything like that. And so that’s what we were hoping for. And we’re tough competitors and last time we literally our Final Leg was tough. I mean it was exhausting but I felt like it was the Final Leg, it was the Final Leg of "The Amazing Race." And this time we kind of, in our minds, we kind of expected the same thing. So when there wasn’t those next couple tasks we were obviously disappointed that we were third and stuck there. But yeah, we kind of expected more. We thought it would be tough. We thought you would have to prove you’re an All-Star and really, you know, grind it out on some sort of crazy course.
HitFix: Let’s go back to something Rachel was talking about sort of the teams working together in alliances and maybe not being as competitive as you would have liked them to be. When did you realize that that was the case with the teams that you guys were racing against?
Rachel: Oh my God. When Caroline & Jen, they got the Fast-Forward from the Cowboys.
Brendon: Express Pass.
Rachel: Or the Express Pass, Sorry. Yeah, I think it was a good move for the Cowboys to do that but at that point we knew because we saw how Caroline & Jen were acting with all the other teams and so I think we knew at that point like these teams are just here to like be on TV or something. We didn’t know why then even came as All-Stars because they weren’t even acting like it.
Brendon: Rachel’s right spot-on with that. I guess, especially for us. You come from "Big Brother" where, especially when you say you're an All-Star, people are, they’re out to win and so they’re smart, they’re cunning, they’re strategic. So I guess we expected a lot of that and we expected it more... I guess I felt like Luke & Margie, Luke & Margie were the team that I felt were there to play like an All-Star team. There were an All-Star team because they were there, they were smart, they learned from their last Race and they were trying to use that to play this. And, yeah, like Rachel said, I think a lot of people were just there for the air-time. Because I don’t know that they really had any intention of... I mean everybody said they want the million dollars but there’s some people I just don’t think want it near as much. Rachel and I were hungry for a win so we were there to win. And we knew the Afghanimals had that same hunger and we knew the Cowboys did too. So those were teams that we knew were like, "They’re here to bring it, they’re here to win, they’re here to compete." And so the personal stuff is like, "Come on!" And with All-Stars, you expect, I guess, a little bit better behavior and understanding as to sportsmanship and competition and what’s personal and what’s game, you know.
Rachel: Yeah, I think that that’s what we didn’t understand with the U-Turn why they got so mad because its All-Stars. This is an All-Star "Amazing Race," so if we U-Turn you and we tell you it’s strategic and it’s a 100 strategic then we couldn’t understand really why they got so upset with us because if they U-Turned us... Yeah, you don’t want to be U-Turned, so you would maybe get frustrated for a minute, but you go on. You race out the rest of the Leg. And we were so confused by the fact that they were so mad the entire rest of the Race. It was just like crazy. We were like, "Why are you still mad about a U-Turn like so many Legs ago?"
Brendon: Well and the funny thing for us was we had no idea about, you know, 90 percent of the stuff they said until we saw the episodes. So we didn’t realize like, "Okay, we know they don’t like us, whatever, blah, blah." But we didn’t know they were going that far to constantly be talking about us. That’s what I guess is a little shocking, is here you have these people who were trying to work so hard to portray themselves as very nice people and, again. you see the game brings the worst out of some people and that’s what it was, because everybody – Caroline & Jen and Dave & Connor -- were the nicest people on earth when everything was going their way. But as soon as the wind changed or they didn’t get what they wanted, it turned nasty real quick. And I think that’s who they are. They haven't reached out, and Dave especially, some of the comments that Dave made, his behavior towards Rachel, to me was just kind of appalling from any standpoint, but the fact that he is twice our age and acting like half our age, you know, to me it was just disappointing.
HitFix: I guess I’m sort of wondering though, there were sort of the couple little moments where you guys got competitive with Dave & Connor first. There was the thing with the tuk-tuks, there was the thing on the Spanish Steps. Were you guys sort of instigating them to some degree or do you think you were just being competitive?
Rachel: No, the Spanish Steps – what am I supposed to do? I’m supposed to tell them where the clue box is? Absolutely not. We’re being competitive. When they are literally racing right behind us, Brendon know that we’re one of the first teams to the Spanish Steps and they’re right behind us? No, I’m not gonna tell them where the clue box is. And, you know, I feel like if they wanted to come on and expect people to tell them and expect people to help them, then they came on the wrong show. Because it’s "The Amazing Race." We’re competing for a million dollars and at the end of every Leg you win a prize. So for Brendon and I, we didn’t win any legs in Season 20. We wanted to come and win Legs. We wanted to win a million dollars and so I’m not gonna help another team, especially that far in the Race. I’m not gonna help another team take it ahead of us.
Brendon: Yeah, in our first season we went the entire Rce without winning a Leg and we didn’t win. And so when we walked away it was hard because you race really hard and you make one major mistake and it’s all over. So this time what I did, and I told Rachel right off the bat, I said, "I want to win. I want to win Legs. I want us to come in first. I don’t want to be safe." Our first Race we were so concerned with making sure that we stayed in the Race. This time we got more balls, we got more gutsy and we were going for those wins because I wanted some of those prizes along the way in case we didn’t win, like we didn’t. And I think that's what you saw.
HitFix: Rachel, you talked about sort of not wanting to help teams but I thought your best moment this season was when you guys were supportive of Margie and Luke at the Kuala Lumpur detour. Was it hard in that moment to set sort of the Race aside and be, you know, people and supportive?
Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. I mean when you’re competing for a million dollars, but the good thing too with the Margie & Luke’s situation, when we were helping them and being supportive with them, we were all in the same boat, that we were doing the same task. We all knew that we were like at the end of the Leg. I don't know if it would have been the same if we were racing for first. But at that point like I said, "I respect Margie and Luke and I didn’t want them to give up because I feel like when you go on the Race you should never give up." And I didn't want them to give up. I wanted them to Race their hardest and to finish the Leg, because I knew that they had it in them and I knew that they came there to Race and we respected them. With a team like Dave & Connor, it’s hard to respect them when they just continuously ask for help and they feel like, "Hey, where’s this? Where’s that?" And whereas with Margie & Luke they just needed motivation.
Brendon: And Rachel and I, before we went on, we did our homework and we watched a lot of hours of "Amazing Race." And one that we remembered is that Luke & Margie, on their last All-Star appearance and they go out with Luke having to taste like a million different teas and getting frustrated and it was hard for him. So I think for us also we know, we respect in them as Racers and having known that somebody had such a difficult time on a task last time and it was the cause... I guess a big part of Rachel and I wanted to see Luke succeed and not give up, because we knew that that had to have hurt him last time. For me I like seeing that because I like to see the growth in Luke just from the first season to now
HitFix: I think throughout the season a lot of people were sort of confused by the logistics that made winning "The Amazing Race: All--Stars" a requirement for babymaking. Could you guys explain that a little?
Brendon: [Laughs.] Sure.
Rachel: Well, you know, we live in LA. My husband is getting a Ph.D. And I’m a talk show host on an Internet talk show. So it’s tough in LA. It’s expensive and we want to buy a house and having babies – diapers are expensive. That stuff’s not free. So winning a million dollars would have really helped with us to be able to have a baby but we’re still gonna try to have a baby. We’re definitely trying. I’m not on birth control anymore and Brendon only has like a year-and-a-half of school left. So, you know, we might have a baby sooner than we think. But we are just kind of letting it in God’s hands at this point. But yeah, I mean the whole thing is we went on because we wanted to have a baby and that was our main core motivation, is for our family. And to be able to have a family and start a family.
Brendon: When Rachel and I got married almost two years ago we wanted to buy a house and we had a hard time buying a house. And I made the joke it’s like, "Oh, only in LA can you win half-a-million dollars on a show and still have trouble buying a house." And it’s true. We had a hard time and we’re trying to find a place to be able to live and raise a family. And that’s a tough thing in LA because LA, it’s a hustle-bustle so trying to find a good place to even raise the family is tough. So that was the motivation, is that the million dollars – it didn’t make it possible for us to have a baby, it made it easier for us to have a baby.
HitFix: Now, okay, two seasons of "Big Brother," two seasons of "Amazing Race." Where do you guys stand on doing more CBS reality shows at this point? Are you done or are you ready for "Survivor," Rachel?
Rachel: I’m ready for "Survivor." Put me on "Survivor." I think "Survivor’s" ready for glitter at Tribal Councils and then for sequined bikinis. I think they need some Rachel Reilly in their "Survivor" lives.
HitFix: Okay, but as a serious answer though are you guys done with CBS reality shows or are you just ready to go back out anytime anyone wants to offer you a chance?
Brendon: Well I think we're smart enough to never say never. Because every time I say, "This is my last reality show, two months later I’m on another reality show." So I don’t think we can never say never but yeah, as of right now I think Rachel and I have definitely proven we’re tough competitors on "Amazing Race" and "Big Brother." So I guess the only thing left is "Survivor." So and I think Rachel really wants to do that. I want to finish school first. But, you know, I would be totally supportive. If they put her on that Island they better watch out.