In their time on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kim and Kyle Richards have stared down some foes more fearsome than anything seen in the American wild. But starting tonight, they take on a different kind of challenge when they are pushed to jump off the highest peaks in network television for Stars in Danger: The High Dive, Fox's newest reality competition series, in which celebrities are trained and compete to leap from terrifying heights into pools of water. Joined by JWoww, Bethany Hamilton, Anthony Sabato Jr. and others, the sisters — who have often been at odds — found a common bond in terror.
We chatted with the Richards sisters at the Langham Pasadena Hotel, site of the annual Television Critics Association meeting.
BuzzFeed: Why did you want to be on a TV diving show?
Kim: My manager came to me, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for my sister and I. We've definitely had a rough couple years on the Housewives. I thought it would be something good for us. When I mentioned it to Kyle, she said, I'm afraid of heights. I'm not doing it. And then our manager talked to her into it. He said got the same response; Kyle said, No, I'm afraid of heights. We gave her a little time and then approached her again and —
Kyle: And eventually, stupidly, I said yes. I like things that are an adventure, even though I'm scared, I was like, okay, this is a short term adventure and we'll spend time together and have it be a bonding experience So that's kind of how we went into it. And once we got there we realized what we'd gotten ourselves into and how actually scary it is and dangerous.
BF: You've both mentioned you are scared of heights. So how did you get past that?
Kim: I didn't really think I had a fear. Kyle went into it thinking, she had a fear. So when it came time to jump she said, let my sister do it. If she can do it, I can. So I was like, fine, I'll do it. I'll do it for her. So i just kind of jumped right up and said, look at me. I can do it.
Kyle: They were telling me to look at Bethany Hamilton, who is a pro surfer. who was attacked by a shark and went back in the water three weeks later. So they were saying to me, look, Bethany can do it. And I said Hello! She is the bravest woman I've ever seen in my life. Put my sister up there, we're cut from the same cloth and then maybe psychologically that will say, okay, if Kim can do it, maybe I can do it.
BF: So did this bring you closer?
Kyle: Absolutely. We had those moments bonding over hating it so much. Moments when we were bonding over wanting to quit. I said to the crew I'm going to be honest, I don't know if i can do this. So be thinking of a back up plan. Someone to replace me with. And they said, No you got up to the edge of the diving board. And I said, but I didn't get off. And they said, well it was better than yesterday when you couldn't even climb up. So each day was little tiny stides and each accomplishment felt huge.
Kim: There were times I really wanted to just roll down the diving board. and roll off. Like i didn't really want to jump. I just didn't want to dive or jump. I was just like — sigh — just let me roll.
BF: Why were you able to bond here and not on Housewives?
Kyle: Just being away from that, being alone the two of us and having to step up to the plate and support each other. Going into this, I said, I know we have to be together and spend this time but i didn't know how hard it would be to get out on the diving board and she didn't know it would be that bad.
Kim:: The difference is, we were very there for each other. We one hundred percent supported each other, and I don't feel it's always been like that.
BF: How'd you get along with the others?
Kyle: JWoww and I have become friends. Terrell Owens has become a friend. I was with Snooki and JWoww a week ago.
BF: What did you and JWoww do?
Kyle: We had dinner. And people were like, why are you hanging out with Jersey Shore? And I said, you have a problem with that? She's really sweet.
Kim My fans have always been like that with me, feeling like they knew me. Because they've watched me grow up. They watched me from Family to Hello Larry, so they've always had that, Oh my God, it's so good to see you, They've always had that more intimate experience with me. The difference for me is I've shared so much of my intimate world, I've shared it all. there isn't anything left of my intimate secrets. I can't think of anything that they don't know really. I walk down the street and I see these people, they're a piece of my life. I'm a part of their world and they're a part of mine. I come home sometimes at the end of the day and I reflect on each and every one of the people I've met. And sometimes they bring you the biggest smile or sometimes, you cry. They just make me realize how much they are a part of my life and it's amazing.
BF: Was it hard to open yourself up in public? On Housewives you open yourself up in one one and here, in a very different way that's equally vulnerable.
Kyle: For me I felt the diving, I really had to be vulnerable. I didn't want to be in a bathing suit after having four babies. I'm not 25 years old. I had so much anxiety about that. Whereas on the Housewives I put up a protective shield. I do. As much as I'm open on the show, I also have, well, who's coming at me?
BF: Can you maintain that though?
Kyle: It's hard, having to be real and be honest. And people say things that hurt you, whether it's a cast member, or people tweeting things that make you feel really bad. People misunderstanding you. It's a different kind of vulnerability.
BF: You have a niece, Paris Hilton, who pioneered a new kind of fame. How much did watching her influence you and make you think of marketing yourselves?
Kim: It's different, For me. I've always been on TV but reality is something I hadn't really thought of. When Housewives came along, they brought it to us and I said, I don't know if I can do this. We talked about it and they said, you can be at home. And you can cook and be with your kids and let people see the real you. It sounded so nice. But that's not really what it is. At first I thought you have to watch everything you say and do. And then all of a sudden, I realized, that's it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to be who I am and say what I feel and people are either going to like me or they're not. And people didn't all like me. And that's okay, I guess. That's the roll of the dice you take.
BF you deal with that?
Kim: The first year, it pushed me over the edge and I relapsed . I was sober and I relapsed. There was a lot of conflict and girls arguing and I'm not used to that, it pushed me over the edge. Now I'm using it as my power. I'm sober again and I really like it. I like the fact that I can look at you honestly and say, this is the way I feel like now. And it's not to hurt anybody's feelings. I really like the way it makes me feel now and hopefully people will appreciate that in me.
BF: Was diving a healing experience in comparison to how come away from a Housewives season feeling like you've been at war?
Kim:: Stars in Danger is like going to a retreat. A very good healing retreat.
Kyle: : I don't know about that. It was very challenging. Very difficult.
Kim: I mean for us.
BuzzFeed:Here you're facing actual danger.
Kyle:: Filming Housewives isn't that bad. You have moments, where you're like, that dinner party was torture. It's when it airs that it's really difficult. To see the things that other people say. Sometimes they say things on purpose to make people look bad. Or they throw in a dig here and there, That's when it gets more difficult. We have the videos delivered a week early, and I suffer from anxiety so I say to my husband, can you tell me, is it bad? Can I watch it?
BF: What sort of crazy thing is this for someone suffering from anxiety to do, being on these shows?
Kyle:: It's like Kim said, we didn't know what it was like going into it. And now it's like the Mafia: We dont know how to get out. But I think for me it was more of a mental challenge to do the diving show because i had so many things to overcome. But the upside was getting closer to my sister.
Photos of Stars in Danger courtesy of Fox.