Bachelor Nation alum Ashley Iaconetti truly felt like she was living on another planet when she joined the cast of Stars on Mars following the first five celebrity eliminations — for more reasons than one.
“I did love the fact that I was asked to go halfway through because that meant that I had less time away from [my 17-month-old son], Dawson. [It] would’ve been over three weeks if I had done the entire time. So I was grateful to be a late entrance from a personal life perspective,” Iaconetti, 35, exclusively told Us Weekly on Monday, July 17, referring to her child with husband Jared Haibon. “But, I was awkward coming in late as well because everybody was truly cliquey and bonded.”
Iaconetti first appeared during the July 10 episode with comedian Andy Richter, NBA star Paul Pierce and celebrity chef Cat Cora. They joined former cyclist pro Lance Armstrong, Modern Family alum Ariel Winter, NFL’s Marshawn Lynch, Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, fighter Ronda Rousey, singer Tinashe and Real Housewives of Atlanta alum Porsha Williams. (The celebrities are competing for the title of Brightest Star in the Galaxy as they live in the same space station and complete missions.)
“Everybody felt like they’re the top of their craft, you know? They’re super confident, they don’t need to make friends. But on The Bachelor, when we first walk into the Bachelor Mansion or in Paradise, we’re all like, ‘We’re here to make connections and communicate!’” Iaconetti told Us. “And it was not, like, the top priority to be like, ‘Hey Ashley, what’s your favorite food? What do you like to do? What’s your favorite movie?’ It wasn’t like that.”
The four additions to the show were also met with tension on the Red Planet as Armstrong threatened to quit the series following a debate with Winter over whether transgender athletes should compete in their own sports category.
“I didn’t see the actual initial argument,” Iaconetti told Us. “But Lance did say, like, when we first entered, ‘You’re walking into a weird time.’ But I didn’t have anything to compare it to.”
Things escalated with Armstrong and Winter as the group argued over who should lead the group’s mission.
“Then, the whole continuation where there was the argument of who’s gonna be base commander — I was just, like, ‘Wow, these people take base commander real seriously.’ Like, they’ve been entrenched in this environment for a week now,” Iaconetti told Us with a laugh, comparing the situation to how quickly contestants think they are falling for the Bachelor or Bachelorette. “It’s, like, all of a sudden a couple days in and you’re like, ‘I must find my spouse amongst this group of people. These are gonna be my friends for life and if I don’t marry one of them, I will die alone.’ [On Stars on Mars], they’re like, ‘We are on Mars and somebody must be base commander!’”
In the end, Winter got her shot at being base commander for a task that involved the group covering various holes so they wouldn’t “die from loss of oxygen.” And despite Armstrong and Lynch complaining about the actress’ tactics — which included distracting the cast with random questions — the athletes were safe from elimination. Iaconetti, however, was sent home as the group deemed her part of the task not as difficult.
Iaconetti admitted to Us that she is “torn” about her quick exit.
“I should have been part of, like, one more mission — put the suit on, really see if I could do, like, more spacey things than put my finger in a hole,” she joked. “But then at the same time, I got to go home to Dawson and I got to eat regular food.”
While she concluded she was “fine” with the situation, Iaconetti acknowledged that she got “emotional” being eliminated from a show — something she hadn’t really experienced.
“I had never been eliminated from Bachelor. … I was left in the Badlands [on Chris Soules’ season], but I never stood at a rose ceremony and got eliminated out of all the four shows that I did,” she said. “I never got eliminated in the traditional sense. So standing there being like, ‘You’re the one we want to leave,’ made me just [sad].”
Stars on Mars airs on Fox Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. For more from Iaconetti’s experience, watch the video above!