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HOME > The Amazing Race > The Amazing Race 20

Exclusive: Rachel Reilly, Brendon Villegas talk 'Amazing Race' (Pt. 2)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/10/2012 

Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly finished The Amazing Race's twentieth season in third place during Sunday night's two-hour finale broadcast, which featured the edition's eleventh and twelfth legs, of the CBS reality competition. 

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The "Engaged Couple" and former Big Brother houseguests finished ahead of "Dating Divorcees" Vanessa Macias and Ralph Kelley but were beat by champions and "Married Couple" Rachel Brown and Dave Brown and "Border Patrol Agents and Friends" Art Velez and J.J. Carrell -- who came in second place overall -- and lost the one-million dollar grand prize.

On Monday, Brendon and Rachel talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including why they argued they weren't "followers" in the Race despite what Art and J.J. claimed, whether they thought Vanessa was simply a mean person or just had mean things to say, whether they believed racing with each other or a friend would be easier, and how Rachel felt about refusing to shave her head after having some time to look back on the situation and think more about it.

Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Rachel and Brendon. Click here to read the first half. To read Rachel B. and Dave's interview, click here. To begin reading Vanessa and Ralph's interview, click here.

Reality TV World: Art and J.J. said you two actually didn't deserve to be in the Race at all because they believed you were just followers and had no real racing skills. They were shown bashing you quite often during the season, so what did you think about Art and J.J. in general and what were your thoughts on how they viewed you as a team in the Race?

Rachel Reilly: Yeah, I think it was unfair because I don't think they thought we were followers -- I mean, that's what they said -- but I think they just didn't like us because we were on Big Brother, and I think that's why they really didn't think we deserved to be there. But as far as following, we're all racing to the same place, so we're not "following" everyone.

We're all going the same place. What were we supposed to do? (Laughs) And I thought they were unfair with a lot of the comments they made and a lot of the reasoning behind justification for not liking us, but I don't know. I just thought that they were kind of mean too. So, we probably won't be friends with them.

Brendon Villegas: Yeah, with Art and J.J., we've heard people say that they're nice and that people actually know them. And we're like, "Well maybe they are. They just weren't nice to us during the Race."

Rachel Reilly: Yeah.

Brendon Villegas: And after the fact, after it got settled, me, I'm a guy. I know how intense things get especially in sports. After a game, you just give a handshake and you're just like, "Hey, sorry about the on-the-field stuff," you know what I mean? Leave it on the field. That's how I play.

So they never even wanted to do that, so I just feel like these were two guys who definitely let their egos get the best of them, because throughout the Race, all they were ever saying and how they talked was always about how good they were, how this, how that, blah, blah. You know, Rachel won Big Brother, which is an amazing accomplishment.

But never once did I ever hear her say anything about how she won Big Brother and that makes her better and more [fit] for a competition or better than somebody at anything. So, like for me, I just appreciate humble people and I appreciate humility.

And even Dave and Rachel, a bunch of times they won a ton of stuff, but I didn't hear them once toot their own horn and talk about how great they were in front of other people, you know? That to me is something that I think some people just don't have.

Reality TV World: You guys were shown bickering a lot throughout the Race, and when I talked to Rachel and Dave today, they both admitted it probably would've been more efficient to race with a partner who's a friend, so do you agree with them? Do you think it's harder to compete as a couple during the Race or did you think you actually had an advantage working together as an engaged couple?

Rachel Reilly: Well, I think it's definitely harder to race with a couple because you take everything personally. With a friend, if you're an idiot, your friend's going to be like, "Okay, well..." But if Brendon said that to me, I get emotional and I start crying and I get sad.

Brendon Villegas: She cries. She cries. (Laughs)

Rachel Reilly: I mean, if my friend told me that, I would be like, "Really, what am I doing?" I think it's easier with a friend for sure, but I also think you have advantages to being a couple because you know each other inside and out. You know how the other one's going to compete and I think you can kind of -- you almost have that couple mindset -- so you're always thinking the same thing as the other [member of] the couple.

Brendon Villegas: We have been through this before, especially with Big Brother. But going into it as a couple, you've only had it out with your significant other probably at some point in your life. So you know how to argue and you know how to fight, which can help you so you don't end up stomping on and murdering each other during The Amazing Race.

But I mean, I think couples do have it the hardest because you have all these drag-out fights and then just let it go. Like guys for instance, if it were my buddy, I will tell you, "I'm going to beat you up as soon as we touch that mat. We're going to have it out, but we gotta get there first."

I can do that! We can leave it and be done with it, but as a couple, your emotional history is carried with you throughout everything, so if something happens, God forbid 10 years ago -- some people's memories are very good, so. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: When I talked to a few of the other teams this season, I asked them about the drama that played out between yourselves and Vanessa and Ralph, and most of them sided with you two -- claiming Rachel, you are a very nice girl, while they thought Vanessa was kind of the opposite. So what's your reaction to that Rachel? Would you say Vanessa was simply a "mean girl" like other Racers had suggested and what did you do differently than her to get your competitors to like you despite all the drama?

Rachel Reilly: Well I think Vanessa -- I don't think she's a mean girl, but she made comments that were mean and comments that were unnecessary, and that's the biggest thing. You're not going to like everyone and it's a race.

You're racing for a million dollars, but when the racing is done and when Brendon and I had opportunities on planes or whenever, we would try to get to know people and we talked to them. We put the Race aside from the actual people.

So, I think that that's actually a big difference. Vanessa just didn't. She was a mean girl and said unnecessary things. She did unnecessary things, and I think in general, Brendon and I, you might hate us and you might want to -- or whatever, you don't like us. But we're not going to sit there and say something unnecessary.

We're never going to sit there and call someone a name based on their looks, and we're never going to tear someone down just to tear them down. They could be our worst enemy and our biggest competition, but we're not going to tear them down just for the fact of tearing them down. We'd rather beat them fair and square, and that's just how we are.

Brendon Villegas: I mean, even with all of this, you're going to say things that you don't mean. That's going to happen in the midst of pressure and in the midst of intensity, but like I said, the ability to say, "Hey look, I stepped outside my boundaries and I said some things that I shouldn't have said and I'm sorry." That's all it really takes, and if you can't even do that, then I don't think you should be opening your mouth to begin with.

Rachel Reilly: Right, and that's another thing. Brendon and I will be the first two to admit we were wrong and apologize. Like Brendon said, we leave it on the field and even with Big Brother, we made up with so many houseguests that we played the game with.

I think that's because we don't take things that happened in the game personally, and we tell them, "We're sorry for what we did," and move on. With Vanessa, we just can't seem to do that, so.

Brendon Villegas: Even for instance with Big Brother, we're at the round table just before we voted on this season, and at one point, I looked at everybody and said, "Look, we have all talked smack about each other at some point in this game." And everybody kind of looked at each other awkwardly. They were just like, "Yeah, well yeah, he's kind of right." Everybody it happens to at some point, but I liked having everybody just drop it.

Reality TV World: Rachel, when you and Brendon decided to take advantage of a Fast Forward this season, you chose not to shave your head for obvious reasons. Looking back now, do you regret not doing it or do you still stand by the decision you made?

Rachel Reilly: Yeah, I stand by the decision I made because I'm getting married and I love my extensions and my hair. (Laughs) I'm a super -- I felt like it wasn't necessary. [Mark Jackson] and [William "Bopper" Minton] were so far behind us, and we weren't that far behind the other Racers, so it wasn't like, "This is going to make a huge difference."

If I had known it was going to be $10,000 each, that would have been nice, but (laughs) I still think I wouldn't have shaved my head, because I'm getting married and I love my hair. It's a hard decision to make and when you're in that situation, it's a really hard decision. But I would've done it if it was a make or break for the Race.

If it was like, "If you don't do this, you'll be out -- you'll be eliminated," I would've shaved my head. And if it was a situation where it would've put us in the Final 3, I would've shaved my head, but it wasn't. There were still five teams and we were still in a good spot in the Race, so I didn't think it was necessary.

Reality TV World: There's been people suggesting that task was unfair for the women. Would you two agree with that?

Rachel Reilly: I agree with it. I think it's super embarrassing. No matter what, if you're a woman that's prepared to shave their head or not, it's still a hard decision that you have to make, and I think that's why it's kind of unfair. Because it's a really hard decision. For two guys, like come on. They're going to shave their head. They have short hair. It's going to grow back.

Brendon Villegas: You know what? On Big Brother, they did something during the show that was probably a little bit more fair for girls -- is that if a girl got the choice to shave her head, she could do that or basically dye her hair -- which would probably be more comparable. Because as a guy, shaving my head is no big deal. Girls, obviously, it's a much different scenario.

Rachel Reilly: To grow your hair out as a woman, it takes you almost a year. And when you shave your head, you're going to be in that -- you have to go through that awkward stage where your hair is in-between the bangs-length, and then it's to your nose.

It just takes a long time to grow back your hair out, and it's a really hard decision to make, because that's like a decision that affects a year at least of your life. I do think it is unfair. I think for guys, it's so easy to make that decision.

Brendon Villegas: But for a million dollars, they can do whatever they want. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Earlier in the season, Rachel and Dave made a pact with Art and J.J. to U-Turn you two depending on who got to the Double U-Turn board first, however, Rachel and Dave ended up deciding not to U-Turn anybody. Once you saw the season play out, what was your reaction to that? Did it really surprise you considering how their decision had created so much tension between themselves and Art and J.J. for the rest of the season.

Brendon Villegas: Well, we already knew that happened after the fact -- after the leg. But I think for me, it gave me a tremendous amount of respect for Dave and Rachel because they were able to play their own game and they could also win in their own right and not need to do something to mess with another team's game to do better, you know what I mean?

Rachel Reilly: Exactly, and that's when I felt that Dave and Rachel -- they are fierce competitors. They are so good and they proved, even there, that they weren't doing things just because someone told them to. They're there to run their own race and they did a good job, so I think I did get more respect for them when they didn't U-Turn us. And after that point in time, we started becoming really close with Dave and Rachel.

Reality TV World: The best you guys ever did throughout the Race was finishing in second place. Why do you think that was? Was it simply because Art and J.J. and Rachel and Dave were really strong competitive teams, or looking back, do you think you could've done anything different to better your racing ability?

Brendon Villegas: I think personally from my point of view, I think Rachel and I -- and I think this could be in part a lot of my push -- I wanted to play the game conservatively and make sure that we made it all the way to the end. And if that meant us not taking first place in legs, then I was okay with that.

I think that's how we really played the game, and I think that's why we made it to the last leg and even had a chance at winning a million dollars.

Rachel Reilly: And I mean, the other teams we were competing against -- the teams in the Final 3 were, I think hands down, the Final 3 teams are amazing competitors, and so regardless if we made decisions differently, I think that everyone in the Final 3 deserved to be there.  

Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Rachel and Brendon. Click here to read the first half. To read Rachel B. and Dave's interview, click here. To begin reading Vanessa and Ralph's interview, click here.

(Photo credit CBS)


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