The Amazing Race's 29th season, which premieres March 30 at 10PM ET/PT on CBS, is starting from scratch after 16 years on the air. For the first time ever, pre-existing relationships are out the window and all 22 Racers will travel the world with a complete stranger.
"It's been talked about for years,"Keoghan told TV Guide. "We've talked about lots of different things for years. We've talked about having all kinds of different types of people or different themes... This was a completely different direction and I'm really glad we did it."
The teams will not be picked by show producers; instead, the Racers must complete a challenge at the starting line during the show's premiere to determine the order in which they'll select their partners based only on first impressions.
The pairs will then reportedly travel to destinations including Panama City, Tanzania, Norway and Greece.
"It's truly unlike any season we've done before, but there's always fighting," Keoghan revealed. "That doesn't change. It's just a different kind... The beginning is really interesting because everybody is trying to tiptoe around each other trying to be nice... Then it gets to, 'You're really annoying me.'"
Teams will naturally fight differently because without a pre-existing relationship of some kind, there is no unconditional respect, love or friendship beneath the surface.
"There are a lot of fans that have said, 'Look, I wanna go on The Race, but I'm having difficulty tracking down somebody who can take time off work.' We've identified a lot of really good people before who on their own seem perfect. One of the challenges is sometimes working out who a great character is going to go with," Keoghan explained of the casting process.
"There are many times where we like one character but we don't necessarily like both of them. It's obviously a lot more challenging to find two people who are really incredible who happen to be on the same team than just finding an individual. It was just the idea of finding something new and different."
Keoghan continued in his interview with TV Guide, "The timing seemed right to try something coming off the back of [Season] 28, which was themed around the whole idea of people in social media. It was just, let's give it a go. It felt like it was time. You're always trying to come up with new things to keep things fresh."
Fans may make a connection between The Race's current season and Season 26, which featured half the teams paired up with someone of the opposite sex for an extreme blind date, but Keoghan noted the past edition was "more about people finding love."
"We dabbled with the idea of pairing people up for love, but this gave us much more scope because we really had the opportunity to put people together who had absolutely nothing in common at all. We weren't trying to guess why they might like each other as we did in that season," Keoghan said.
"This was much more about, let's see how different we can make this cast. When you have people with a pre-existing relationship, generally speaking, those two people have something in common... This is 22 individuals who come from different places, who are distinctly different from each other, and who represent the fabric of America?"
The longtime The Amazing Race host therefore reiterated how producers were all about casting "interesting individuals" for the new season. While there are many people with connections to law enforcement, the military and public service, Keoghan insisted that's no sign of a twist to come.
"If there's anything that any of them have in common, that's purely a coincidence, not one of those things where we go, 'Oh, we've got a great fireman. Let's find another fireman.' If a plumber had been more interesting than the other person who was a fireman, then we would've gone with the plumber. We went with the most interesting mix," Keoghan explained.
Keoghan also offered up a teaser for Season 29's first big challenge once the Racers gather on the starting line.
"They don't know each other's names. They don't know how old they are. They don't know where they went to school, where they live, what they believe in. They don't know if they're good runners... So you're standing there and you're thinking, 'Where do I start? That guy looks strong and fit, but how does he cope with stress? That person looks super brainy, but are they going to be able to withstand the physicality of the show?'" Keoghan told TV Guide.
"Knowing that, we gave them a challenge that allowed them to see each other perform a challenge that tested strength, endurance, agility, problem-solving -- as many of those factors as we could... Depending on how they perform in this challenge, that determined how those pairings were done."