Maksim Chmerkovskiy says becoming a guest judge on DANCING WITH THE STARS is “the next logical step” in his colorful career.
“It’s kind of cool that this has happened now,” he tells TheTVPage.com. “For the past two seasons there has been a lot of talk that maybe [the show and I] were on bad terms and whatever. So it was awesome to get this call and hopefully put all the rumors to rest.”
The controversial — and sometimes hot-tempered — dancer left the ballroom after the show’s “all star” season in 2012. In 13 tries, he reached the final round four times and was runner-up twice.
“I honestly never thought that I would have such a hard time letting go of dancing,” Maks admits. “But that is what happened. I may have sounded a certain way while I was [on the show], but then when some time passed and things calmed down and I got the time to do some other things that I was never able to do before because I never had the time, all of a sudden I started missing it. Now the show is coming in and asking me to try myself at the next logical stage of my career. And this is the next logical step. I am excited just for the opportunity to prove to myself that I can do it.”
During his thirteen seasons on the show, Maks, 33, often clashed with judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
“We all know how I was critical sometimes of the way they work and the things they say and how they were saying it,” he says. “This is an opportunity for me to sit in that spot and try to do, not necessarily better — because I am not saying they are doing a bad job — but to be the type of judge that I have wanted them to be. I am not a hypocrite. I have got to do what I criticized them for…and do it better.”
Maks takes his seat at the judges table for one night only on Monday, November 18.
He shared more about the upcoming gig — and who he thinks will walk away with the mirror ball trophy — in our exclusive interview.
What kind of judge will you be?
In acting they tell you not to try to mimic somebody else’s voice and intonations, but to be you and try to find the best version of you. It is the same way here. I am just going be me — but older and wiser. And remembering that this is the semifinal and at this point everyone is exhausted and really going on fumes energy-wise. So maybe Bill Engvall isn’t the best dancer that is left out there, but he puts so much effort into what he does that it has to be recognized. At the same time, I gotta also understand that for me, I want to see the best dancer win. So there are people who are left who are in amazing hands whose pros have won it — some of them multiple times. I am just excited to see what the couples bring and I will pretty much decide on the spot. I have never been fake and I have never been scripted, so that is one thing you can expect: genuine me. My opinions and honest in everything that I say.
The obvious question now is “Will this lead to a full time judging job next year?
To be honest with you, I am focused on just Monday. I am trying to do the best job I can and we will go from there. I will continue to do the things I have already been doing. Whether it leads to full time anything is not up to me and it is not the conversation for right now because there is literally no conversation like that happening. Maybe the powers that be are thinking something, but I don’t know.
There is talk that Len might retire at the end of this season. Any thoughts on what that will mean for the show going forward?
I think everybody in the show is a staple. Someone who is on any show for 17 seasons becomes, if not irreplaceable, at least very, very hard to replace. So Len, if he choses to retire and step down after this season, I think the show is going to miss him tremendously. I believe that we all contributed to the success and he was there from day one, literally. The show is going to miss Len. However he is going to be replaced, I don’t know. But those are some big shoes to fill.
Did you have to wait for your brother to be eliminated before you could come on and judge?
No. This is a bit of a coincidence. No body knew that Val was going to be going home. I would have loved to judge Val. To be honest, I think this is a better situation. Not that he left — I wanted him to win. Elizabeth did amazing.
I don’t know. There are always situations with couples that are doing so well that the fan base relaxes.
Now that they are out, who do you think has the best chance to win?
The way things have been going, I think Corbin is a frontrunner dance-wise. But you can’t discount the fact that Amber has Derek, who has four trophies. Knowledge of what it takes to be in the finale and what it takes to come out with the best freestyle… Derek has obviously proven himself time and time again. So he personally is a huge asset to whoever his partners are. So Amber is in great hands. But I think this is anybody’s game. I think the people that are left have a tremendous amount of support from their fans. So it will be interesting to see what happens.
How is your acting career coming along?
I am completely engulfed in learning acting. I have a fascinating coach that I am working with. I spoke to my agent, I said “Let’s postpone things. I want to do this the right way.” I realize [acting] is a huge skill and it needs to be acquired and practiced and rehearsed. I spent 30 years perfecting my craft [dancing] so now going to another craft, I cannot try to not do my best. When you see me on the silver screen it is going to have to be real. I am taking a lot of lessons and I am taking it super seriously.
DANCING WITH THE STARS airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on ABC.
What kind of judge do you think Maks will be? Sound off in the comments section below.