Brendon and Rachel
Big Brother's Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly are among the returning teams on The Amazing Race's upcoming All-Stars season, TVGuide.com can exclusively reveal. Because ain't nobody gonna come between Rachel and $1 million twice... right? "When you go on these reality shows, I go to win $1 million, not to just be on TV, so I'm just so excited to get a second shot at this," she tells TVGuide.com. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we get to do it twice."
Photos: Meet The Amazing Race All-Stars cast
The pair, who married in 2012, finished third on Season 20, which is as famous for eventual champs Rachel and Dave's record-breaking eight leg wins and fan favorites Bopper and Mark as it is for Brenchel's bitter feud with Vanessa and Ralph, and Rachel's patented meltdowns.
But the couple promises things will be different this time around — and you might even see a new, softer side of Brenchel. See what else they have to say about their second trip around the world and what they learned from last time. Plus: Check out an exclusive sneak peek below to see who else is coming back.
Rachel, on your Twitter bio, you had "Retired reality star," which is no longer there. So why did you unretire?
Brendon: I don't know why she would ever write that. C'mon!
Rachel: [Laughs] I know. That is so true. I wrote it because I was like, I feel like I'm getting old and tired, but it's Amazing Race, and you can't say no when they ask you. We're just so excited that we got the honor to come back on The Amazing Race again.
Brendon: And in case you haven't figured out, my wife's a little dramatic.
Rachel: A lot dramatic!
What was your reaction when you got the call? I don't think anyone is surprised they asked you back.
Rachel: We had kind of always hoped we would be asked. Brendon and I made final three on Season 20. We thought we did a pretty good job. We weren't surprised we were asked for an All-Stars season, but we were surprised it was this soon. The last one was Season 18, so we thought it would be in another year or two. But oh, my gosh! I was like jumping up and down [when they called].
Brendon: That's what usually happens. She says yes right away and I'm like, "Let's talk about this." I'm trying to do a PhD here. But of course we both wanted to do it. It's never a matter of if we want to do it, it's if can we do it and me not getting choked out by my professors at school.
I feel like you've been working toward this PhD for 10 years.
Brendon: [Laughs] Yeah, you and I both feel like it's been 10 years.
How did you approach this season knowing it's All-Stars and everyone's been through this at least once already, some twice?
Rachel: We actually didn't know that anyone was going to be on the third time. We decided that if we're doing this again, we really need to work together. I had to say to myself that I wasn't going to take the lead all the time, which I did a lot in Season 20. ... We're partners. We want to work together really well and make sure that our team was the strongest. We had the mindset of being focused on the Race. If we have an issue, we'll deal with the issue after the leg is over.
How did that work out for you guys generally speaking?
Brendon: You'll see! Honestly, for us, we realized we're both individually strong competitors. We know we can be stronger together, but we just have to work well. We have to listen to each other and not fight when we disagree. Whatever comes our way, we have to tackle it and not have our attention diverted.
Amazing Race winners Jason and Amy: We're still speechless
Would you say that's the biggest lesson you learned from last time?
Rachel: Absolutely. I learned two lessons last time: That and I cried a lot! [Laughs] I knew I had to bring it down. I knew I had to focus more on what I'm doing and not getting emotional because you can have one second of an emotional breakdown and it totally throws you off your game the entire leg. I knew I had to look at everything logically and be super-competitive and work really hard. Brendon and I had to work really hard as a team.
Brendon: Last time, we came in as newbies. We only had two months to wrap our brains around doing it and didn't have a lot of time to prepare. We were learning as we were going. This time, we wanted to be more prepared. We watched probably 10 to 12 seasons of the show. Every time we would see something that a team did that we thought was a good idea of what to bring with you, we made sure we wrote it down.
Rachel: We got on a really strict training schedule. We'd wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning, run for three miles, do yoga, lift weights — anything we thought would help us, we would do. We really trained for Season 24. It's All-Stars and we knew everyone would be super-competitive.
Brendon: Rachel was training really hard. I actually got hit by a car before we left.
What? What happened?
Brendon: Yeah. I had to do some recuperating. I did some yoga and lifts here and there. I knew I would go no matter what, but I had to heal up. I ride my bike to school every day here in L.A. Somebody just took me out — I flipped over the car, I landed and scraped my arm, kind of hurt my ankle a little bit.
Rachel: You need to be careful!
Brendon: If L.A. were more bike-friendly, it wouldn't have happened. But I was OK.
It sounds like you're saying there'll be fewer Rachel meltdowns this season. So there's nothing on the scale of your meltdown in Italy last time?
Rachel: Yeah. Brendon and I talked about it before the Race, like, "OK, we're definitely not doing any salami challenges." [Laughs]
Brendon: The other thing about the meltdowns is if we're doing something where it gets to the point where we're having a meltdown, we just need to stop and focus on what we need to do. Deal with the emotions later. I'm sure you'll never be disappointed by Rachel in any capacity though!
Are we going to see a different side of Brenchel?
Rachel: Absolutely. Last time, Brendon and I had just come off Big Brother. We were newly engaged. You have a lot of issues to deal with. This time, we're married. All the stupid stuff, like not trusting your partner or in the back of your head you think they don't have your back — that's all gone. I think people will see that we're more comfortable with our relationship in general. You can tell we're a little more mature, we've learned a lot of lessons over four seasons of reality shows. We're married. Brendon can't leave me! [Laughs]
Brendon: So romantic! But don't mistake that for us not speaking our minds when one of us is upset with the other or in any terms of the Race. We're here to win $1 million. We were on last time for the experience, see the world. This time, we're here for the money. I told Rachel we have plenty of time to make friends after it's over. ... Some people get caught up in the Race and wants to make friends. We want to win the money. And we're doing it for the baby!
Do you have something to announce?
Brendon: Not yet! But yes, I do figure it'll cost about $1 million to raise a child in L.A. We want a house and a baby.
SAG Awards fashion hits and misses
Were you surprised by any of the teams who were brought back?
Brendon: We went online to see who was prognosticated. Of course, there were some surprises. But it's fun because everyone speculates during an All-Star season. There are a lot of great Racers who have won, who have lost. ... We have some relationships with other Racers outside of the show from different seasons. We do a lot of charity events and we see a lot of the Amazing Race people, so who they brought back was interesting to us. Some of us talk to each other and are friends, so when you get back on the Race course, it could be hard to stab somebody in the back.
Were you worried about people targeting you like last time? You guys are an easy target.
Rachel: We are! We always assume we're going to be targeted. But in an All-Stars season, it's a lot easier to blend in with the rest of the teams so that you're not as much of a target. Everyone has raced before. Brendon and I also didn't win a leg in Season 20, so we thought people shouldn't be that scared of us. There are other teams that have won a lot of challenges before.
Brendon: We were hoping to stay under the radar, but I can never assume that. I think the main thing is we were more prepared. I even had Rachel drive around L.A. navigating, practicing stick. Last time, there was a point if I had picked the Roadblock, she would've had to drive a stick shift.
Rachel: That didn't work out well. Every single time Brendon was like, "You're never driving on the Race." They made me drive on hills, which is probably the hardest thing to practice when you're driving stick. Let's just say that I'm happy Brendon had me practice.
That's one of Phil [Keoghan]'s biggest pet peeves: people who can't drive stick or swim.
Rachel: I know! As a viewer, I wonder that too. When you go on these reality shows, I go to win $1 million, not to just be on TV, so I'm just so excited to get a second shot at this. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we get to do it twice, and I'm going to make sure we're going to practice and train as long as we need to. I always get shocked when people don't train or practice for the Race.
Would you do the show or Big Brother again? Or are you going to retire again?
Rachel: I don't think our reality career is done.
Brendon: We're going to put on Twitter that we're going to retire. [Laughs] My body's getting beat up, but I want Rachel to do it. I really want to pursue a career in medicine. I've been working toward this PhD for 10 years. I think Rachel's fun to watch and entertaining and she should pursue a career in reality and entertainment. If I can be working in a hospital and she's doing reality, that's fine with me.
Rachel: It will be a dot dot dot. I feel like our Brenchel story is always "to be continued."
Brendon: And never say never.
So you won't put your foot in your mouth again.
Rachel: Exactly. We got married on reality TV, so we obviously need to have a baby on reality TV!
The Amazing Race premieres Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8/7c on CBS. Check out an exclusive promo below.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)