Ashley Iaconetti wasn’t deemed “mission critical” in the July 17 episode of Stars on Mars. The Bachelor In Paradise alum was eliminated and sent home back to the U.S. from the Australia base camp. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Ashley about joining the show late in the game.
Ashley admitted that it was a “crazy scenario” because she was asked “months prior” to signing on if she was interested. While at her parents’ house in Virginia, she got a call from her agent. “He kept calling and calling. I was like, ‘Can I call you right back? I’m in the middle of something.’ He’s like, ‘You got to talk now. I need you to make this crazy decision in 30 minutes. Do you want to go to Australia and film the show Stars on Mars? You have to leave on Thursday.’ It was Tuesday night. I have a toddler. It was insane. In my gut, I was just like, I’m going to regret it if I don’t do it, so let’s do this crazy experience,” Ashley admitted.
Her Stars on Mars trip was actually a solo trip to Australia. Ashley’s husband, Jared Haibon, and son, Dawson, 1, did not tag along this time.
“I’ve had to, of course, go away for work and stuff throughout the past year and a half. The longest we’ve ever left him was for Bachelor in Paradise. I think that was 5 nights. For this, I had to guarantee 13 nights, so it was very stressful,” Ashley said. “Obviously, it was hard to be away from him that long, and he like would kind of get sad when he’d see me on FaceTime, but it was nice that I had FaceTime. I had my phone the entire time, which was fantastic. On The Bachelor, we never have our phones. They did let us have our phones when we were away last Paradise, but this time I could be in constant communication with them.”
When she arrived at base camp, the Bachelor Nation star had to fully immerse herself as one of the celebri-nauts, including the space suit. “It was not like Matt Damon’s The Martian look,” she quipped. “It was definitely more of like a Neil Armstrong-feeling suit. It was heavy and clunky. Between the weight on your shoulders and then the claustrophobia of not being able to get fresh air in there was scary.”
Ashley revealed that the most “challenging aspect” of the Stars on Mars experience was “coming in late and not having the warm and fuzzy reception when we walked in. Cat Cora was the only person that would say I felt like I could kind of chat with. I also really wanted to just listen to everything that came out of Marshawn Lynch’s mouth. That man is amazing. He needs his own show. I was privileged to be in his presence.”
She continued, “But just not having the sort of social environment that I had from The Bachelor was the biggest challenge because everybody there is just like, we’re in this and this is crazy. This is fun. I know there’s a lot of drama that’s aired, but for the most part, like when you’re on The Bachelor, you’re just really enjoying it like a sorority house. And then the other thing was the suit, which really was pretty claustrophobic. There were moments where I was like, if I think about myself in this glass bubble, I’m going to start freaking out. I did get panicky.”
Even though she would have liked to have stayed longer, Ashley wasn’t completely surprised by her early elimination. “I didn’t know it was an elimination show until I got there and we talked to a producer. So when I did hear that it was an elimination show, I was like, so I’ll probably be eliminated right off the bat because I’m with all these athletes there are physically capable,” she said. “Here I am… I couldn’t make my freshman volleyball team. I’m not physically inclined whatsoever. And missions, when it comes to the left side of my brain and thinking numbers and instructions, I hate instructions. If I see them I’m like, ‘Jared, take the instructions. I can’t put it together.’ There’s like this non-connection between my right and my left brain. Any sense of numbers and science, get away from me.”
She added, “When it came down to me being eliminated during that mission, that was kind of sucky just because it’s not like I didn’t do the job. I just had the least important job because I had one hole in the ground. But if you had to eliminate someone, I get it. Eliminate me.”
Hours before her Stars on Mars elimination, Gerry Turner was revealed as the star of The Golden Bachelor, ABC’s upcoming senior citizen spinoff. “Overall for the franchise, I’m just really, really excited,” Ashley told HollywoodLife. “The reception is amazing. I was looking under the comments from the posts from The Bachelor’s official Instagram. There’s just no negativity anywhere. People are really excited. They’re shocked at how young looking he is, and everyone’s just feeling the fresh vibes. We’re just excited to get a little spring in our step with a new spinoff. I think that it’s going to be super romantic, so heartfelt, and emotional because I bet you that there will be people who are already married. So they might have a spouse that passed away or gone through a divorce. There are going to be so many grown children involved in the story. I’m feeling a fresh breath of air.”