Love 'em or hate 'em, Mirna and Charla were easily the breakout stars on this season of The Amazing Race. The contentious cousins were at the center of almost every major flare-up and their take-no-guff attitude won them as many fans as detractors. Just look at how host Phil Keoghan teared up when he was forced to Philiminate them last night. Although they left the race with no regrets, they still have a few choice words for a certain Texan cell-phone salesman....
TV Guide Online: You turned out to be far more aggressive players than anyone expected. Was that always the plan?
Charla: We had to be as aggressive as we could in order to play this game, because that's what we were there for. And we used what we had. We negotiate well and we know how to talk to people. We had to use those aspects to the fullest or we would have been out the first episode!
Mirna: A lot of people wanted us to be these nice, shy girls, but let's face it, would we have made it that far if we were? We're strong-willed people and we've worked really hard in our lives. Both of us have confronted a lot of challenges — obviously Charla quite a bit more. We're both immigrants. We came to this country not even knowing how to speak English. We had to learn how to adapt and we went on to become pretty successful people.
TVGO: Mirna, you took most of the heat for your team's racing style. Was that difficult?
Mirna: All I can say is that if you put yourself in my shoes, a lot of people would have succumbed to the pressure. I tried to stay positive. I'm not used to people putting down my cousin or putting me down and that was happening from day one. When I saw the reaction that people were having, I took a defensive, overprotective role that maybe I shouldn't have. Charla is more used to dealing with that and I'm not. I'm very open, friendly and accepting and I expected the same in return. But if people are going to come in to this with an attitude like, "Let's get these two Russian bitches" — and I quote that — than I'm going to be a little bit upset. If that's the way you want to play, then bring it on, because you're not going to scare me.
Charla: Mirna was just being protective of me. I'm used to all the comments and the pointing and the stares. It happens so often that I'm immune to it. Still, I have feelings and emotions just like anyone else. Just because I'm different, you can't call me by a name other than my own. They never said it to my face exactly, but they showed that personality to our face.
Mirna: I don't want people to think that I have this antagonistic attitude. We came out of the race with several friendships. Although I didn't realize that Marshall and Lance disliked us so much. Apparently we're not their type of people, which probably makes us better people! That's okay, I don't care. We only had a problem with one particular racer.
TVGO: I'm guessing you mean Colin. Was your relationship as bad offscreen as what we saw?
Mirna: It was much worse. You did not see all his threats and accusations. He told me he was going to break my legs. Let's just say top-level security was on him when they saw him trying to make me fall at the ticket counter. He threatened me and started acting on his threats. I don't think he could stand being beaten by a couple of girls. I mean, look at us! If you have a macho attitude, it would be quite a blow to your ego to have us give you a run for your money. It's not that we wanted to taunt them, but we wanted to say, "You might be paying people money to get rid of us" — which is what they were doing in the last episode — but it doesn't matter, you can't hurt me. Your girlfriend might fall prey to your hostility, but I won't. I think you'll see more to come and some of the things I've said that have sounded outrageous, you will come to understand them in due time. Trust me on that.
TVGO: Charla, what was the most difficult thing you faced on the race?
Charla: There wasn't really a hardest part of the race. In my daily life I've been through a lot more obstacles than what's shown here. Actually it wasn't easy getting on this show in the first place. The executives had the same response as most of the other teams. They said, "Is this girl going to be able to make it through the first episode? It'll be nice if she makes it to the first pit stop." But there were two people that believed in us — one of them was [TAR creator] Bertram Van Munster — and said they would give us a shot. And it paid off! But now we kind of feel like we let people down and ourselves down almost. We expected to get to the end and win. People are proud of us and we're grateful, but we kind of expected more!
TVGO: Was there a scene that didn't make the final cut that you wish had been included?
Charla: When we were paragliding in Argentina, I told the guy, "This isn't very scary, can you make it a little more adventurous?" So you know what he did? He started flying the thing in loops! I had a blast. Also, I wish they had shown more of the things that Mirna did for the team. She did a lot and for people not to respect that is difficult.
Mirna: Before the race, we divvied up who was going to be in charge of what. So Charla was in charge of the eating challenges since she was excellent at them. And I was going to be in charge of driving and negotiating airline tickets, which is more my strength. Charla was fabulous, but I did a lot of things that you don't see, like working ticket counters for six to 10 hours and driving all day. If we hadn't done that, we couldn't have gone on and done the challenges.
TVGO: Knowing what you know now, what's one thing you would do differently if you were to run the race over again?
Charla: We just wish Colin hadn't been on the race.
Mirna: He was so worried about beating us and we were so worried about him literally beating us! I wish I knew Arabic fluently so I could have convinced the Gulf Air guy to send him on a flight to Antarctica.
TVGO: Finally, Mirna, I think we can all understand why you kept hitting on Phil. But you did know he was married, right?
Mirna: Oh, definitely! [Laughs] The editing shows it as flirting, but there really wasn't any. I've been a fan of the show since the first season and I don't think Phil gets enough credit. He's witty and intelligent and at the pit stops he would always compliment me and tell Charla that she's a hero. Let's put it this way: After having people antagonize you all day, for somebody to welcome you with open arms and compliments was a much-needed boost. We really appreciated it. And it doesn't hurt that he's a very handsome man!