He may not have won the elusive Dancing With the Stars mirror-ball trophy, but second-place winner Gilles Marini (and his partner, Cheryl Burke) won in other ways. After receiving a perfect 30 score for their Argentine Tango on the May 19 results show, and another 30 for their freestyle dance the previous night, the couple tied with fellow contestants and ultimate winners Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas, with an 88 of 90.
With less than one percent splitting the winning vote, this makes it the closest DWTS finale in history. "It's never happened before," Cheryl told In Touch after the show. "It proves anything is possible in America," added Gilles. "It's beautiful for Little Shawn, that's what I call her."
For Gilles, the hardest part of losing was explaining it to his 10-year-old son. "He's the only one who doesn't understand that Daddy does well all season and doesn't win," says Gilles. "I told him it was all good, baby. It's part of life, and I will get him a lot of gifts in New York and some type of trophy."
This is just the beginning for Gilles. First, he'll have surgery to help heal a shoulder injury he suffered on the show, and then he'll watch his acting résumé expand from his notorious Sex and the City movie appearance, adding guest spots on Nip/Tuck and Brothers & Sisters. "I am not playing a nice guy at all," he reveals about the Nip/Tuck appearance. "It's very twisted and dark - and when I say dark, I'd rather be a murderer than this guy."
For more with the Dancing runners-up, click here.
"Anything is possible in America"
You guys were so close. What were you saying to yourself up there?
Cheryl: I know, we were so surprised.
Gilles: My son is 10 years old. I thought if they call my name, winning that trophy, I am the Big Bad Wolf - Shawn is only seven years older than my son. So I'm very happy for her. I told my son you have to understand one thing, daddy lost, it's difficult for him.
And less than 1 percent of votes in the winning split?
Cheryl: It's never happened before.
Gilles: It's never happened before and proves anything is possible in America. It's beautiful for Little Shawn, that's what I call her. We are going to have a fantastic flight to New York and celebrate and be happy. I am thrilled. While it's emotional for my son, he's the only one who doesn't understand that Daddy does well all season and doesn't win. I told him it was all good, baby. It's part of life and I will get him a lot of gifts in New York and some type of trophy.
Will you keep dancing?
Gilles: Maybe, yes. It's a new passion I have.
How's the shoulder injury?
Gilles: Terrible, but it will be soon fixed by very good doctors.
Were you looking forward to the show ending to get it fixed?
Gilles: No, because I won't be with Cheryl anymore every day for nine hours - that is the downside. The upside is going to Cedars-Sinai to get the little surgery done, and then I'll be up and running again.
Cheryl: I will definitely have some separation anxiety - maybe.
What did you learn from each other?
Cheryl: So much about life and taking advantage of everything that's presented and appreciating everything. It is my first season with Gilles, and I have appreciated every second of the show and the season.
Gilles: I learned so many things, I don't know where to start. For the first time in my life, I learned that I can have a woman friend and not have that thing that was always a dangerous zone to get in. I completely fell in love with Cheryl without having that little thing that everyone was scratching the surface for. I love this girl to death, she took me to places, and said two weeks ago she'd take me to places I'd never been, and she truly did.
What's next for you?
Gilles: It's hard to say. There are a lot of projects knocking at the door, and I am looking at all the aspects and making sure I am doing something meaningful and that may take me to other places. Maybe this guy gets an Emmy or an Oscar one day, I don't know. I am going to work my butt off for it, and who knows. I mean three months ago, I never danced, and Cheryl took me all the way to finals - so it's possible in America.
Cheryl: Going in vacation for a couple of weeks and then back to my dance studios and clothing line. Keeping busy. It's my first actual vacation ever in my life without my family. And the Oscar ... I hope I am there when he wins it.
Gilles: I don't want to be away from Cheryl. I go straight to work as an actor, and I am excited. I will be working on Brothers & Sisters. That's going to be very interesting and people will be surprised. I also did a spot on Nip/Tuck for the next season and worked with Vanessa Redgrave. Wow - working with an Oscar winner on a great show? I am not playing a nice guy at all. It's very twisted and dark - and when I say dark, I'd rather be a murderer than this guy. It's crazy, but I love the writer and people I worked wit,h and Vanessa was the icing and cherry on the cake. I was blessed to be with them. There were a lot of offers, but I had to say sorry. I was showing respect to my partner, Cheryl, and to the show that gave me this amazing opportunity. The opportunities will still be there. And I don't want to be "Hollywood." I am an old dude - 33 years old with two kids - and if I change anything, my kids look at me like, "You are an ass." I am not changing anything. I have no regrets about having to wait for things. In life, there is never a bad choice when you make a choice.