A Look Back: Kirstie Alley’s Big ‘Dancing’ Transformation
First Published: May 24, 2011 8:49 AM EDT Credit: ABC
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- She had a season like no other contestant before, and with the transformation witnessed by America, Kirstie Alley just might pull an upset on “Dancing with the Stars.”
On Monday night’s final’s round, Kirstie and her professional partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, earned 57 out of 60 points, just two points less than her competitors — Hines Ward and Kym Johnson; and Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas — but she was in fighting form after the show.
“Look, I think our freestyle was amazing and we should have gotten 10s and so did the audience and that’s why they were booing like lunatics,” Kirstie told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson Monday night, referring to the loud audience response to the three 9s from the judges.
“I loved that,” Kirstie said of the ballroom’s response. “It was a bit of a revolt.”
AH Nation Poll: Who deserves to win ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Click HERE to vote!
Although always feisty with her words, Kirstie wasn’t always an obvious choice for the finals.
Her first outing in the ballroom with Maks (on March 21) earned 23 out of 30 points and landed the pair in second place (Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff topped the leaderboard with 24 points), but her struggles with weight quickly became a focus.
Just days after cha cha-ing to Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” to which judge Bruno Tonioli predicted, “we are just scratching at the surface of what you can do,” comedian George Lopez took aim at the former star of Showtime’s “Fat Actress.”
“She did a nice job, her little hooves tapping away,” the comedian said on “Lopez Tonight” even though, at the time, Kirstie had recently lost 60 pounds.
But Kirstie struck back.
In response to a fan’s Tweet calling George a “pig” right back, Kirstie suggest he looked like, “lol…a drunk pig…hehe,” and the late night host later apologized.
As Kirstie moved through the season, she and Maks hit another kind of stumbling block in Week 3, when Maks fell to the floor while swinging the actress around.
It was an injury to his leg, but lest anyone think it had to do with the star’s weight, Maks insisted multiple times it was all his fault.
“My thighs just gave up. Any dancer would know. It happens. Muscle strain and all that, but it’s nothing to do with her. I apologize,” he said on the show at the time.
One week later, on April 11, again shaking her confidence, Kirstie had a dance floor mishap, losing her shoe during a waltz.
“I want to be good, I do,” Kirstie told Access after the incident, revealing the frustration she felt after another accident on live television. “I don’t want to be doing comedy without knowing it.”
Something changed, however, on April 18, when the pair decided decided they would no longer allow accidents to happen (thanks to a little help from “Dance Doctor” John Travolta).
They came out with an explosive performance, and the woman who once hit Oprah Winfrey’s stage in a bikini, opted for something equally sexy on “DWTS” – a midriff baring top and low slung retro pants (to match Maks’ shirt-free, leather pants look).
It was an outfit that seemed to say, “I’m sexy, I’m proud and I’m going to do this!”
After that night, Kirstie was unstoppable – her outfits became tighter, and she and Maks climbed back up the leaderboard. And then, her weight took center stage again.
This time though, it was Maks who was criticizing the star in rehearsal footage shown on “Dancing” for not eating as they practiced – something that caused her to grow faint and lose her footing, and something that made Maks end rehearsal altogether.
“I’m not doing it intentionally,” the actress told Access Hollywood after the show on May 9, confirming she had lost weight, but declining to reveal how much.
“I’m not going like, ‘Oh! I’m not going to eat!’ I just wasn’t paying attention… It was a very intense time trying to get something right and I just didn’t notice that my blood sugar had dropped,” she added.
Pledging to eat, Kirstie continued on and the problem caused by not enough calories subsided as she continued through, inching out Ralph to make it to the finals.
As she prepared to head into what would be her final week of practice with Maks, Kirstie revealed to Access that her friends – including John Travolta – had originally advised her against doing the competition — a show that would end up giving her so much.
“I thought, ‘Screw all my [friends] I don’t care.’ I really don’t care what anybody says,” she told Access as she rehearsed on May 19 in Los Angeles. “One thing I’m good at is introspection, and I knew that I had gotten in a bad place — sort of complacent. I was boring myself, let alone anybody else! I was boring. I was like, ‘This will ‘unbore’ me.’ It did ‘unbore’ me!”
She also didn’t let Maks’ insistence to Access Hollywood Live’s Billy Bush and Kit Hoover – also on May 19 — that he was going to revise her “DWTS” pledge to do “aerials” in their freestyle on the final competition night.
“Aerials! What did I say,” Kirstie smiled after Monday night’s finals round, before joking she was heading to Cirque du Soliel.
“I’m going to train with them in New York,” she laughed. “I’m going to trapeze school.”
Beyond the aerials, Kirstie’s final dance on Monday night was also the perfect embodiment of her transformation – both mentally and physically on the show.
She hit the stage in a heavy brown dress to Pink’s “[Expletive] Perfect,” before ripping it off to reveal a much slender version of herself in skintight black pants and a corseted top.
And while Carrie Ann Inaba said it was a template for how people should be at 60, the ever-feisty Kirstie was a little offended.
“She said, ‘at 60’ and I was [upset],” Kirstie told Access. “I was like, ‘Can I be an example of how life can be lived period?’ I mean, shouldn’t you be living it flat out? I think you should be living it flat out, because for me, the reality is, when I was 24, I was older than I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
Maks summed up Kirstie’s transformation by saying it actually promoted change within himself too.
“She walked in, I go, ‘OK, this is gonna be fan-based, and we’re just gonna have fun.’ That lasted about a week and I realized she wants me to do more than just have fun,” Maks told Access on Monday of his first impression of how he thought the season would work out. “And you know? I turned into my usual training self and next thing you know she’s shedding weight, I’m locking her in the room so she has no choice, she has to do the dance, you have to finish it… It’s been amazing.”
So amazing, Maks isn’t sure he’ll be returning to “Dancing.”
“How do you top it?” Access’ Shaun asked Maks on Monday of “Dancing” after Kirstie.
“I don’t top it,” he said.
“What does that mean?” Shaun asked.
“It means, I don’t top it,” he said.
“It means I’m Mount Everest,” Kirstie laughed.
Copyright 2013 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.