The celebrity reality series Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test returns to Fox this week with another eclectic cast filled with world-class athletes, well-known actors and plenty of reality stars, including one that’s fresh off a major “Scandoval.”
One of the cast members is influencer and host Kelly Rizzo — who is also the wife of the late Bob Saget — and she spoke with Yahoo Entertainment about the show’s biggest challenges, her unique bonds formed with some of the other cast members and the advice she gave Vanderpump Rules star Tom Sandoval on day one.
About the show
Entering its second season, Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test features 14 celebrities trying to get through training exercises that are “from the playbook of the Special Forces selection process,” according to Fox, and led by a team of ex-Special Forces operatives known as directing staff agents.
“It’s not like a typical reality show. It’s not salacious and gossipy, it really focuses on digging deep within yourself and how you can overcome these challenges,” Rizzo said. “I felt like I was actually in the military for a little while. You really get a taste of what it’s like.”
In this particular show there is no voting off your castmates. Instead, the only way “recruits” leave is by giving up on their own, failing a challenge, possible injury or being removed by the directing staff. The recruits face a combination of physical, mental and emotional tests, and Rizzo said it’s so intense that you don’t even notice the cameras.
“It was like a cross between Tropic Thunder and The Truman Show at all times,” she said. “And you’re not talking to producers, you’re talking only to the directing staff, like the actual military guys are the only people you’re interacting with out there on a daily basis. So it was very real and legit.”
Rizzo, whose desire to be on the show stemmed from “watching G.I. Jane a bunch,” said that she felt like the experience was both beautiful and torturous at the same time, while evoking a whole spectrum of emotions.
“They really impress upon you, even before the show, that this is a mental game and it’s not really a physical game. I mean it is, but it’s more mental and your mental fortitude is what can really carry you through,” she said.
The show, which is an adaptation of the British reality series SAS: Who Dares Wins, premiered back in January and ended with two “winners” who made it all the way through: The Bachelorette’s Hannah Brown and former pro soccer player Carli Lloyd.
Meeting the recruits
Along with Rizzo and Sandoval, the Season 2 cast includes former NFL player Dez Bryant, former NBA player Robert Horry, Olympic gold medalists Bode Miller and Erin Jackson, actors Brian Austin Green and Tara Reid, model and actress Blac Chyna, dancer/singer/actress Jojo Siwa and reality stars Tyler Cameron (The Bachelorette), Savannah Chrisley (Chrisley Knows Best), Jack Osbourne (The Osbournes) and Nick Viall (The Bachelor).
Rizzo said that while it was intimidating to be alongside professional athletes and Olympians, she generally felt like everyone was on the same level mostly given the fact that it was foreign to everyone.
“It is a sense of pride, though, when certain challenges you do better than some of the athletes,” she said, recalling a time when Bryant was “puking his brains out” after one of the first challenges and she wasn’t at all.
As far as who Rizzo gravitated toward in the cast, she said Osbourne and Miller were the people she turned to if she was ever feeling nervous or scared about a challenge because of their experience with adventure situations over the years. And she also got close with Siwa, who “really kept the group together” and Chrisley, who is “kind of a spitfire” but also “so sweet” and “such a nice person.”
Cast drama (or lack thereof)
Other than Reid accidentally stealing Rizzo’s boots a couple of times, Rizzo said there was no real drama that unfolded within the cast. In fact during the down times they would gather around a fire pit or in the bunkhouse at night and tell stories and bond with both laughter and tears.
“I know it sounds weird, that 14 really crazy, unique, different personalities all got along pretty well,” Rizzo said.
She said it wasn’t until after filming that she heard of some sort of “beef situation” between Viall and Sandoval, but that she didn’t know anything about it while filming.
“Everyone put all that stuff aside when we were there. So there was no drama that I witnessed,” she said.
Speaking of Sandoval, Rizzo admitted that other than some social media headlines, she really didn’t know anything about him or the cheating scandal he has been embroiled in this year, which has been dubbed “Scandoval” by fans and the press.
“The first night he was all, ‘it’s been such a rough time and America hates me, and I came here to get my ass kicked’ and yada yada,” Rizzo recalled. “And I said, ‘listen buddy, we’re all on equal footing here. Put that behind you. None of that matters right now. Let it go.’ I said, ‘I’ve never seen the show. I’m not judging you. I don’t know anything. So let’s just understand that you have a clean slate. We’re all equals here. No one’s judging you. Let’s just move forward and get through this cuz we all need to stick together.’”
From there, Rizzo said they got along fine during the season and that he “gave it his all” and “worked his ass off” while he was there.
How hard is it, really?
As far as how difficult the challenges and the show itself were, Rizzo said that she knew it was going to be difficult going in and she was right, especially because there were no perks or relief off-camera.
“There was no yelling ‘cut,’” Rizzo said.
One thing that was a major issue for Rizzo, who as host of Eat Travel Rock TV has traveled all around the world, was sleeping among a big group of people in the same space.
“You’re in a room starting with 14 people on military cots and it’s dead quiet. And so meaning, if somebody rolls over a tiny bit and the bed creaks, it wakes everyone up. Snoring… it was next to impossible. I don’t know how anyone slept,” she said. “Every day I was complaining because I was the worst sleeper of the group, and everyone felt really bad for me because I was not sleeping.”
The other big thing to overcome — besides all of the military-grade challenges — was the fact that everyone was cut off from the outside world as filming took place in New Zealand. Rizzo said that instead of staring at phones and texting those back home, the castmates would just talk about their families and friends instead.
“After a day or so then you’re used to it, and then you don’t even miss it,” Rizzo said of being disconnected. “And then at the end I was like, ‘oh, I don’t even care about social media right now.’”
Living in the moment and getting through each day was the main focus, which is good if you’re trying to be like G.I. Jane, trying to escape a “Scandoval” or just getting a taste of the Special Forces — without the full commitment.
Season 2 of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Carol Dennis is an entertainment aficionado with an eye for all things pop culture. She dives into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, from movie premieres to music festivals. Carol’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her reporting, as she’s an aspiring screenwriter in her free time.