If the producers of “The Amazing Race” tuned in during the past two seasons of “Big Brother,” they knew exactly what they were getting when they chose to cast Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas.
Drama. Viewer-polarizing drama.
And the “Big Brother” lovebirds delivered in spades. There were tear-filled exchanges across Europe, a shouting match at an airport in Kenya and multiple threats, from each side, to quit.
Rachel & Brendon may reliably bring the high drama, but they’ve managed to achieve at a reasonably high level in all three of their reality TV seasons. Although they were middle-of-the-pack in “Big Brother 12,” they came back one season later and despite a huge target from Day 1, Rachel managed to win “Big Brother 13.”
And although they didn’t win a Leg on “The Amazing Race” this spring, they were consistently competitive and if not for a major clue-reading gaffe in Hawaii, they might have been in position to win in Sunday’s (May 6) finale.
In their exit interview, Rachel & Brendon talk about crying, drama and about how their three reality TV experiences have proven that they’re together for the long haul.
HitFix: How are the real Rachel and Brendon different from the Rachel and Brendon we’ve been watching on TV for almost three years?
Rachel Reilly: I guess I would say that they’re probably very similar.
Brendon Villegas: Well, we’re less dramatic in our day-to-day life.
Rachel: That’s true.
Brendon: I hope so.
HitFix: Let me try it this way: Was what we saw on “The Amazing Race” closer or further from the Real You than what we saw on “Big Brother”?
Brendon: It’s hard. See, the problem is that they’re both super-intense situations and when you look at it and you watch it on TV, I don’t think you can see that. I feel like there’s a certain ether in the air or something that you can’t really see until you’re actually in the situation where it’s just so high pressure and high intensity that you do behave different. It’s so hard to figure out how you would behave if you’re outside of the situation, because you don’t know. A lot of these relationships are developed inside your situation, so I think for us, we are much more dramatic on TV and we’re more emotional and we’re much more high-strung. And you pull us out of a situation and we’re not racing for money or competing for money, we’re much level-headed.
Rachel: Yeah and we don’t cry as much. Or I don’t cry as much, I guess. I think that any time you’re in a competitive situation, especially a competitive show where you’re competing for money, you’re going to be more intense. I think for the fans who have seen Brendon and I on the live feeds on “Big Brother” and have seen the interviews on CBS.com from “The Amazing Race,” I think that those are probably truer to how Brendon and I are. When you see the show, they can’t really show everything, because it’s only an hour episode, so I think that for the fans that really go to CBS.com and watch the interviews, they probably know more to our personalities than just what you can see on the show. But I would definitely say we don’t cry as much.
HitFix: Having done those two summers on “Big Brother” and knowing how to behave on camera and behave under heightened circumstances, do you think you got any advantages from that?
Rachel: I don’t think there was an advantage. I don’t think you can have an advantage in running “The Amazing Race.” But I think that just for Brendon and I, the only thing is that we’re so used to the cameras that I think that we probably just forget that they’re there, so we’re never really thinking about how we’re being filmed, so everything that the audience sees is a very true emotion, because we’re never really thinking that we’re being filmed or that we have to act a certain way or anything. We just are very real with the audience, so I think that that’s probably the only advantage that we have. But on The Race, you can’t have an advantage. Being on “Big Brother” 10 seasons in a row wouldn’t have given us a single advantage. I don’t think if you went on an All-Star “Amazing Race” season you’d have an advantage. I just can imagine it’s probably so different every time you run the Race.
Brendon: Realistically, we’re going into a situation where we remember what the feeling is like to be competing under pressure and that’s what I think really helps us. There’s alway going to be some point where you’re like, “This could be it,” so that’s gonna make it or break it. We, obviously, we messed up on the last Leg, but you can’t run everything 100 percent all the time and you’ve just gotta try your hardest. I think Rachel and I just went in with the mindset knowing that the intensity was going to start up and especially how to separate. Maybe that really is the one thing that we had on everybody else, is that at the end of the day, Rachel and I understand how intense it is, how we’re going to do things that we probably normally wouldn’t do and we’re going to say things we probably normally wouldn’t say, but after the Race is over and after the dust settles, we’re very normal people and we’re not gonna take anything to heart and we’ll be able to walk away and say, “Hey, you know what? I’m sorry for what I said during the Race,” especially to Rachel. I said some things… Of course we say things that we don’t mean during the Race. But I love her and she knows that.
HitFix: Would you guys have wanted to have less drama out there? Or did you guys thrive on the drama?
Rachel: I think way less drama would have been better. I don’t think anyone really likes drama. It’s funny to watch it on TV, but I think when you’re actually in that situation — and especially me, I take it so personally, and I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it does — I would have rather had it where everyone’s BFFs with us and we’re all running the Race, jogging and singing together, but that’s not realistic, because we’re competing for a million dollars. When you’re on a competition reality show, you’re not going to be best friends with everyone and we learned that, being on “Big Brother,” that you make friends, you make enemies and what happens after the show, you might make up, you might not. Obviously, I don’t think that anyone really actually likes drama in their own life, but I think it’s inevitable on any type of competition show.
Brendon: Yeah, Rachel steps up if you push her. That’s the reality. We’re just both very competitive people and we wear our hearts on our sleeve. So if you’re going to say something about me or if you’re gonna be mean to me, we’re gonna speak our minds and I just have a hard time with that.
HitFix: So Rachel, do you feel like the editors went out of their way to show every single time you cried out there? Or were there tears that we somehow missed?
Rachel: Oh my gosh! They did! They did! I think that they showed every time. I didn’t even realize that I cried that much. When Brendon and I were done with the Race, I didn’t think that I’d cried that much, but watching it back, I was like, “They must have got every single time.” Thank God, I had waterproof mascara. Every single time. I guess cried a lot, but that’s my way to get rid of my emotions and relieve stress. I’ve very emotional.
HitFix: How has your relationship changed as a result of what you learned out there on the Race?
Brendon: We’ve definitely become stronger. Again, I think it boils down to this: The Race really is kinda like a little early preview of life. Rachel and I have said before… We know that things are gonna come up in our life that are gonna be way more intense and way bigger obstacles than “The Amazing Race.” Yes, stacking watermelons is hard, but you know what? Raising three children is even harder. Stuff like that. There’s everyday things that are gonna be tougher on a relationship than stuff that comes up on “The Amazing Race” and if we can survive “The Amazing Race,” it’s definitely gonna help our relationship and help us figure out how to solve problems in the future when they pop up.
Rachel: Yeah, I think that it’s good, because we realized from doing the Race and from doing these shows, that Brendon and I really need to put each other first and that we’re the most important people and whether it be jobs or stress at work or whatever the case is, like on a competition reality show, that we have to put ourselves and each other first. We have to put our relationship first and that that’s gonna keep us in a strong, good relationship. I don’t think that there’s anything that could ever break Brendon and I up now. We’ve been through a lot.
Brendon: We both agreed that we’d be lost without each other. We have talked about it time and time again that we were meant to be. We believe that 100 percent. I almost didn’t do “Big Brother,” decided to do it at the last minute. Had I never done it, we never would have met.
HitFix: We saw all of the fighting out there with you guys and a couple other teams. How representative was that? Or was there a lot of time when there was no fighting going on at all and we just didn’t see that?
Rachel: There was plenty of fighting going on. Some of the other teams just didn’t like us. I think they just were verbal about it and they talked about us a lot behind our backs and when the pressure was on, you guys saw it explode in the airport in Kenya. I don’t know why they didn’t like us, but they didn’t and Brendon and I, especially me, I speak my mind.
Brendon: What? No! Not Rachel Reilly!!!
Rachel: Never! So I might have added fuel to the fire a few times.
Brendon: [Muffled laugh.]
Rachel: But I don’t know. Art & JJ and Vanessa & Ralph definitely did not like us and I think that’s normal for a reality show and for a TV show and in life in general.
HitFix: Did you guys regret anything when you watched the season back?
Brendon: No. Nah. Not really. We made a mistake, but we agreed on this a long time ago with “Big Brother,” that if you ever play the “What If?” game of reality television, you will drive yourself insane. All you’re gonna think about all day is what you could have done differently and you’ll never be satisfied with any sort of confusion, so we realized me made a mistake. It happened. But you know what? We saw some damn cool places, got experience things that people don’t ever get to do in their lives and I’m thankful for that. If we ever take for granted the fact that we got to experience this, winning the million dollars or not, I think we’d be done.
Rachel: Yeah. We just went on this incredible adventure. Looking back and watching it, you don’t realize when you’re actually on the Race how awesome it is, because you’re so caught up in the moment, you’re so caught up in the “We have to keep competing. We have to keep running the Race. We have to be the best.” You don’t appreciate it as much. But looking back at everything we did? For me, it was all worth it. We went on these amazing adventures. Safari in Africa! Jumping out of a plane in Argentina! Climbing up and rappelling down a building in Hawaii! Everything that we did was so incredible and just the people we met along the journey and everything like that, it’s just so many experiences and so many memories that they’re gonna have and treasure forever. I think that no matter how much we regret how we ran the Race, just getting the opportunity to do it is just worth every minute.
Brendon: When you’re in it, I don’t think you can even appreciate it just from the standpoint of not even just where we’re traveling, but even the fact that you’re getting such a unique experience. You get to play these games and do these competitions that people don’t get to do. Know what I mean? They’re elaborately set up and every last detail is made sure and taken care of so that we can just go to the next place so that we can get on a plane. Everything is so well done. It’s such a great experience just to be able to do. We were just lucky to be able to be on it.
HitFix: And what do you guys see your future in reality TV as being?
Rachel: I don’t know.
Brendon: I think we’ve learned to never say never at this point. I said two years ago that I thought that was my last reality show, when I was starting my PhD, and then sure enough, I ended up on another season of “Big Brother” and then we did “The Amazing Race.” I think for me, I’m excited that we’ve done what we’ve done and appreciative of everything that’s come from it. Now I’m ready to start my PhD and really get working on research. But hey, I think Rachel’s definitely entertaining, so we might see her on reality television.
Rachel: Yeah, we’re planning our wedding and we’re so busy looking for a home in LA.
Brendon: And Rachel’s got Adventures for Pets, her website.
Rachel: Yeah, I have a pet travel website that I’m working on. So I think we’re really busy and who knows what opportunities will come our way, but right now we’re just kinda still taking in the fact that we just went from back-to-back “Big Brother” and then the Race and we’re kinda enjoying our private little lives right now.