Kym Johnson has two Mirrorball trophies, but this is the first time the Dancing with the Stars pro is trying to defend her title. She sat out the 10th season after winning with Donny Osmond, but Johnson, who won last season with Hines Ward, is still very much in the running on Season 13 with David Arquette. "I would love to defend. That would be incredible to win back to back," she tells TVGuide.com. "But honestly I don't really think about that. We've got a long road to go before I can even consider it." After landing in the actual bottom two on the second week, the pair has been steadily improving and Johnson believes they can win it all. But what do they need to go all the way? Plus: Get Johnson's take on the Maks-Len fracas.
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What do you have in store for Halloween?
Kym Johnson: We've got a song that's kind of Halloween-based. We have the cha-cha and then we're doing the team tango with J.R. [Martinez] and Karina [Smirnoff], and Nancy [Grace] and Tristan [MacManus]. Team dances are always so much fun. ... We're calling ourselves Team Money. I don't really know why. It's from Broadway Week; it's all about the money. The other team has the paso doble. I think it's going to be really close between us.
You guys got your highest score for your tango, so David should be comfortable with it, right?
Johnson: Yeah, exactly. That was our best score, so hopefully we'll be able to do well with that one. We're trying to work on some movements and fix the little things so hopefully our group score will be even better than our [individual] score. And for the cha-cha, David's obviously never done that yet. We'll have to get his hips moving there, getting in the rhythm and all. David has a lot of natural rhythm and a lot of it is trying to get him to harness it.
What do you think he still needs to work on?
Johnson: I think he's too hard on himself, so he's got to start believing in himself and having that confidence. With that, I think we could definitely go all the way.
How do you help him gain confidence? It's not like it's a step you can keep practicing over and over again to nail it.
Johnson: Right. It's hard. It's just a matter of me building his confidence up and making him feel great about it every day. It's a lot of repetition where I really have to get into his head so that all of this feels second nature. We work six, seven hours a day every day. We haven't had a day off since the show started. That's just the way it goes and that's how you get results.
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I felt like things really turned around for you after the second week when you were in the real bottom two.
Johnson: Yeah, we knew we were almost out of the competition and we've really turned things around since that week. I think he realized that, "Wow. This could end at any time," so it sort of gave us second life. Also in the third week, he danced for his daughter, which was obviously very important and inspiring for him. Carrie Ann said that she thinks we could be contenders, so I think the past few weeks have been really great for David's confidence as well. We just have to keep that momentum going.
He's got so much energy that sometimes I think he's going to burst in the middle of a dance. Do you ever feel that way?
Johnson: [Laughs] That's one thing we have to really try to contain! His energy could get a little bit too crazy, so that's a big challenge for us — finding the excitement and exuberance, but not letting it get out of control.
Which of his improvements have impressed you the most?
Johnson: His technique and his form, especially in the ballroom dances. His posture is so much better. He was having a real issue with his frame and posture in the very beginning, but he's really got that fixed up now.
Some people are focused on chasing and dethroning J.R. Are you guys or are you focused on yourselves?
Johnson: Just from experience, the best thing to do is to focus on yourself. It sounds clichéd, but it's true. You can't control others and you can't get caught up in who else is doing great. You have to try to do the best you can every week and hopefully you'll end up in the final and not even realize it.
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What did you think of Maks talking back to Len?
Johnson: I mean, you get passionate about what you're doing. We put so many hours into it, so I guess Maks just got very passionate about everything. Maybe he could've said it differently, but I get where he was coming from. He's put so much heart and soul into it, and I think he was more so trying to defend Hope [Solo].
Chaz Bono also complained about the judges. Do you think they have gotten unnecessarily harsh over the years?
Johnson: I don't think so. They're there and they do their jobs, and sometimes you don't like what you hear at all. And it is difficult when you have to go back and try to find that confidence again to continue. I don't know — I'm staying out of this whole thing!
What did you think of Chaz leaving?
Johnson: He was amazing. I love Chaz. He was just adorable. We're really going to miss him. He did such an amazing job every single week he went out. He really had a great time doing it too. He deserved to be there just like everyone else does.
Your and David's impressions every week are hilarious. Can we expect another one this week?
Johnson: [Laughs] We like to get into characters every week and then we just did Grease. You'll have to wait and see what we're going to do this week.
There must be a Scream homage somewhere, right?
Johnson: I know! We'll have to do that!