If you've been watching this season of "Dancing With the Stars," then you know how badly Donald Driver wants that coveted Mirror Ball trophy. However, his children may want it even more.
"My kids can't wait to take it home," Driver told HuffPost TV last week over the phone. "They just really want to hold it. I tell them that we're bringing it home to Titletown."
The Green Bay Packers' wide receiver has consistently ranked at the top of the leaderboard this season, but he has yet to impress the series' toughest judge, Len Goodman. Heading into this week's finals there's only one thing Driver wants more than the Mirror Ball: The coveted "10 from Len."
In order to finally get their perfect score, Driver and his professional partner Peta Murgatroyd are taking some huge ballroom risks in the finals. Watch out, William Levy; Driver sees your bare chest, and he's raising you a few jaw-dropping stunts. Expect daring lifts and a tiny bit of hip-hop swagger from the duo Monday night.
"I don't think anyone is going to take a risk in the finals [but me]," said Driver. "[William's] going to shake his butt a little bit and drive all the girls crazy. And Katherine [Jenkins] is going to be beautiful and do a ballroom dance ... I'm taking a risk."
Read below to learn what Driver really thinks of the "Dancing With the Stars" judges, who he wants to see in the all-stars season and the new touchdown dance he's planning with his pro partner.
I saw on Twitter that you were up pretty late last night rehearsing.
I was up just looking over our dances to make sure that I have them down because there's only three more days until we're finished. I like to have my routine in my head, so when I go to practice, it's easier for Peta. She doesn't have to coach me. We want to focus on making it perfect.
Where do you practice in your home?
Just in the living room! Sometimes I'll go upstairs, and I'll be in the bedroom, and I'll think up a routine or I'll think of a step. I like to go through it three or four times, and if Tina [my wife] walks in there, I'll ask her to go through it with me. She just smiles and is like, "OK, what do you need me to do? Let's do it." It helps because she gets into character so easily.
Tell me about the freestyle that you've prepared for the finals.
There are no rules to the freestyle, so it's going to be completely out of my comfort zone. I think everyone is expecting me to come out and do hip-hop, but it's going to be completely different than what people would expect. I think it's going to surprise a lot of people.
I can understand why people would assume that you would do hip-hop, but I have to say that your trio jive with Karina was my favorite dance of the season.
Thank you! You know, the judges didn't give us the scores that we thought we deserved. We really thought that we were going to get triple 10s, and when we didn't, I was disappointed. I felt like that was one of my best dances, if not my best all season.
Can we expect any more insane jumps over Peta's head in your freestyle?
There's not a lot of jumps, but there are a lot of lifts. In the freestyle, you can do as many lifts as possible. You can make it as hard as you want, and I told Peta that we can't hold anything back. We can't go back next week and say, "Oh, I wish we would have done that." We have to throw the whole kitchen sink on that dance floor, and we have to nail every routine. The lifts that we're doing are truly crazy. Yesterday, I told Peta that we have to be the craziest couple in the world to be doing all of this. For some of these lifts, you have pro dancers that would never even do it. She trusts me, and I told her, I said, "I'll never drop you." Right now, we're still working on one more lift. It's pretty hard, but we've got the first three lifts down, but it's just that last one that's tricky.
You also get a do-over dance this week.
Yeah, the judges have picked a dance that we have to do over, and for us, they chose the Argentine tango. Len gave us an eight the first time, and I was shocked. We thought that dance was amazing, and I thought that was the dance that was going to get me my 10 from Len. It was so perfect. We didn't miss a beat. So we knew that the judges were going to pick that dance. For the finals, Peta and I are incorporating everything that the judges were looking for the first time. Carrie Ann wanted more passion, Len was looking for more content and Bruno wanted the story. So this week, we're telling a story, and we're going to take home that Mirror Ball. [Laughs.]
Earlier this season, Len admitted that he underscored you, which was a "Dancing With the Stars" first. Do you feel like you've been underscored this season?
If you look at the judges, they each have their own passion. Carrie Ann loved romance. She loves the love and the emotion in dance, and you see that in her comments. [Impersonates Carrie Ann's voice] "Oh. you just took over the floor. You were amazing. It was beautiful!" And then you look at Len, and he's like, "Well, that wasn't my cup of tea." Len wants content and technique. Do you have the ballroom hold? Do you have your kicks and flicks under control? And then there's Bruno. If you take off your clothes, Bruno's your guy. He'll love you. [Impersonates Bruno's voice] "Oh, I love it. You're so masculine!"
So you really have to put everything in your dance to get that 10. Each week, I really thought Peta and I were perfect, but our scores were the same every week. I think our highest score was last week when we got a 29. I really thought Len was going to give me a 10. I was like, "What do I have to do?" Maybe I've proven that I'm a good dancer, and he wants to see a great dancer? In the Argentine tango, I have to be a great dancer for him. I'm getting that 10! This is when you want that perfect 30, in the finals. If I get that perfect 30, then it's over. I just need Packer Nation to support me, and that Mirror Ball is mine. [Laughs.] We're bringing home the Mirror Ball right on back to Titletown.
Does it ever bother you that every contestant is getting judged on a different scale? William has already managed to get two perfect scores this season.
You have to be comfortable in what you're doing. You can't worry about how they're judging someone else. How do you justify someone else getting a better score than you? You can't. That's why the fans' votes are so important. As long as the fans believe that I have the best dance, then nothing else matters. For nine weeks straight, Peta and I have had the crowd up on their feet, and I know that if I can get 700 people on their feet, then we've done something good. We were the first couple to get a standing ovation this season. That means just as much as a perfect 30 in this competition.
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough were eliminated last week after having the highest scores. Were you shocked?
I was definitely shocked! They had the perfect score. They had the 30, but that wasn't enough. The judges are only half the voting. She didn't have the fan base to keep her on the show. I think Derek did, and I think she has a fan base, but it wasn't big enough to keep her in the competition. The fans know exactly who they want to see dance.
They obviously want to see more of William.
Yeah, he's really good at taking his shirt off. [Laughs.] I don't think anyone is going to take a risk in the finals. William is going to go out there, and he's probably going to do something Latin. He's going to shake his butt a little bit and drive all the girls crazy. And Katherine is going to be beautiful and do a ballroom dance. She's great at that, and William is great at shaking his bottom. But me? I'm taking a risk. There's going to be a little hip-hop. I shake my bottom a little bit, but then I get right back into ballroom hold. You have to get back into the character.
Do you think this professional dance training is going to help you on the football field?
I told Peta that after it's all said and done -- and we win it all -- she has to come up with a great touchdown dance for me. I could be me standing there in ballroom hold and taking four or five steps, or me doing some kind of Latin dance. We're not sure yet, but we're both going to come up with a few ideas, and then that's going to be my signature touchdown dance for this season.
Now, as a huge fan of the show, who do you want to see return for the all-stars season?
I'd like to see Ricki Lake come back. She was so close to winning it, and she ended up coming in third. I'd like to see her try it again. I think all of the athletes should come back. I'd love to see Floyd Mayweather should give it another shot. For me, I'm a big, big fan of the beautiful, most amazing woman in the world, Gladys Knight. She put so much work into it, and if she got to come back, I know that she would put 100 percent into it. She's the only other person that hates to lose more than I do!
Also, I have to be honest with you: In my family, we're all Bears fans. I'm surprised they're not disowning me for this interview.
[Laughs.] Oh, no, that's a problem right there! I don't think they'll be too mad at you. They'll just probably ask, "Is he going to retire soon, so we don't have to deal with him anymore?" Tell them that I'm not retiring anytime soon.
The "Dancing With the Stars" finale airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
HuffPost TV looked back on who we'd like to see hit the dance floor again for next season's all-star cast. Click through our slideshow below to see who made the cut and share your dream casting choices in the comments below!
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