Peta Murgatroyd won "Dancing with the Stars" last season with partner Donald Driver, and she knows she's in for another run for the title with her Season 15 All-Star partner Gilles Marini.
"I truly believe that he can make it to the finals again," Peta said as she and Gilles visited Access Hollywood Live on Tuesday. "Although, this competition is so much tougher this time because everyone's been there before, everyone knows what it's like, they know the ins and outs, they know what it takes to get there. But, he definitely has it. He's working really hard and it's going to be good."
Gilles' season of "Dancing" - the show's eighth -- was won by gymnast Shawn Johnson. Shawn is back again to compete for the mirrorball, but now that she's older, Gilles said he'll have no mercy for his competitor.
"She was 17 when she won, so I really [wanted] her to win... Now she's 20, so... no pity. Let's do it. Now, let's compete for real," he said.
The road ahead isn't easy, especially as Gilles recently had foot surgery.
"I stuck a needle in my toe and broke the toe. I stepped on a needle," he said of stepping on a sewing needle in his home.
Still, one thing making it easier is having a gorgeous partner, something he first realized when they met at the photo shoot for the Season 15 cast pics.
"That was the first time I've seen Peta and she wears pretty much nothing. I'm like, 'It's going to be a great season,'" he laughed.
Gilles is happily married, and it appears Peta's boyfriend, fellow "DWTS" pro, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, is also smitten with his girl, so much so, he stops by rehearsals - a lot.
"Maks has been great. He actually has been coming to the rehearsal room quite a bit," Gilles said.
"Dancing with the Stars" premieres September 24 at 8/7c on ABC.
-- Jolie Lash
Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Peta Murgatroyd
- Gilles Marini