Dating actors Hayden Kristianson and Aaron Crumbaugh made Amazing Race history on the season finale, when Aaron popped the question right after being Philiminated. It was a great "awww" moment, but considering their often combative relationship on the show, more than a few viewers probably thought "Huh?" Here, the duo set the record straight about their relationship and reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets, including what really happened on the top of Mount Hua.
TV Guide Online: The race had really taken its toll on you by the Xi'an leg. You both looked exhausted.
Aaron Crumbaugh: The thing is, when we got off the train in Xi'an, we were feeling pretty good because we had gotten some sleep during the 17-hour ride. Then we ran to the Drum Tower and it wasn't open yet — story of our lives on this race. And from there, we just had a terrible day. The taxi driver just killed us. That was so frustrating.
Hayden Kristianson: He miraculously got us to the Detour and we were the second team there. We left right behind Adam and Rebecca, and we had the directions to the next location, the Terracotta Warriors Museum, written down in Chinese on the clue. But he proceeded to get us lost for about 35 minutes on the way there and then dropped us off at the wrong place. When we finally arrived, all the other teams were there and an African queen was inside so we had to wait for her to be finished. Then, they made us enter in the order we got there and when we finally got out, [the queen's] motorcade was leaving, so we had to wait for her to go. Then, instead of driving to Mount Hua, our taxi actually took us back in the direction of Xi'an. So he basically got us lost for two hours that day and that's why we were so upset.
TVGO: Was it stress that ultimately caused you to quit the race?
Hayden: I'm upset about that because there was no quitting. Here's exactly what happened: I got to the Roadblock at 3 and I was there for four hours. At 6:40, we were told that we had to leave the mountain at 7. They gave us two options: You could stay overnight at the hotel and continue in the morning or you could not finish the challenge and take the time penalty. Why in the world would you stay overnight when you would be 20 hours behind the other teams? If you take the four-hour penalty, you're still probably not going to win, but you'll be a lot closer. So at 6:59, I looked over at Aaron and said, "Honey, we've been here four hours and we'll beat Adam and Rebecca in a foot race back to the pit stop. Should we just stop?" And he's like, "OK." It's 7 and as those words are literally coming out of my mouth, Rebecca opens her lock. I raced back over, I'm crying and I'm trying to open the lock. But it was after 7 and I was done. So the fact that the show made it look like I quit makes me angry because I don't quit at anything. I never give up and I was told that I had to.
TVGO: At least you had a memorable exit. Had you been planning to propose all along, Aaron?
Aaron: I had gone in with the idea of doing it. Of course, I really wanted to win the million bucks and propose at the finish line. And we really did have a great time on the race together. They want drama and yelling and that kind of stuff, but we had a great time. So I had no qualms about proposing right there. I knew I wanted to marry her and that felt like the right time.
TVGO: Hayden, did you know it was coming?
Hayden: Not at all, I was completely surprised. It was a beautiful ending to a disastrous day. But, like he said, we did have a fabulous time on the race. Unfortunately, people are just seeing the side of me that gets very stressed out and panicked. It's not a pretty sight, but the majority of the time we got along great. That's why he proposed. If I was that bitchy the whole time, he would never have dreamt of asking me. I mean, c'mon — he's not stupid.
TVGO: How does it feel to have people question your relationship because of your on-air arguments?
Aaron: I really haven't gotten any of that. My parents have met her and love her. My extended family hasn't met her yet, but they all love her on the show. They're all like, "She's got such a great attitude. You totally need that, Aaron." No one has come up to me and said, "What are you doing with her?"
Hayden: The people who know me know how stressed I get and are cutting me slack. I'm the first to admit that I'm terrible at dealing with stress; I panicked too much during the race. I would apologize to Aaron every time I spazzed out on him. I was like, "Honey, I'm really sorry, I'm going to work on this."
Aaron: Actually it was, "Baby, I'm really sorry..."
Hayden: Oh, god! I'm never going to call him that again. No more "Baby!" [Laughs]
TVGO: Do you feel your relationship has improved since the race?
Hayden: When we got back, I kind of went through a rough patch. I had a hard time adjusting to normal life after the craziness of running around the world for five weeks with cameras chasing us. It was a difficult transition for me. But it's much better now with the show over. We've been through so much in 16 months and we've just grown stronger. We feel like nothing can stop us from overcoming things.
TVGO: What's next for you? Do you have any acting gigs lined up?
Aaron: We're both with a great agent here in L.A., and now that the show's over we're able to get back out on the audition circuit. We've got some meetings set up and hopefully we'll be on TV here soon. I'm also going to start culinary school in Pasadena in July. I have a passion for cooking and I've always had this dream of owning my own restaurant. Hopefully, when I'm done I'll be able to be a TV chef. I'd love to be next Emeril or Bobby Flay.
TVGO: Hayden, I've gotta ask — do you ever get confused with the other Hayden Christensen from Star Wars?
Hayden: I'm actually in the Screen Actors Guild as Hayden Kristianson and he's not. When I joined, I asked if I needed to use my middle initial, even though we spell our names differently. But they said, "No, he's never even joined. It's all you."
TVGO: Finally, how are the wedding plans progressing?
Hayden: We were going to get married this December, but then Aaron made the decision to go to culinary school and it's a 15-month commitment. I hear that wedding planning is very intense and, as we know, I don't handle stress well. I don't want to plan the wedding by myself, because that would not be good for me or for him. So we're going to wait until December 2006 when he's done with school.
Aaron: Plus, I'll be a cook then, so I'll have lots of knives just in case.
Hayden: Thanks, honey... I mean baby. I'm going to start calling you baby again now!