ET caught up with the 22-year-old dancer on Tuesday, where she couldn't stop gushing about the former NFL pro being "like a whole new, sexy man" in the ballroom during Latin Night. Despite being in danger of elimination, the fierce duo proved they are here to stay, wowing the crowd with impressive lifts that even led guest judge Pitbull to give them their first 10.
ET: First, we have to talk about your standings from last week. Many were shocked that you and Megatron were in the bottom three and in danger of elimination. How were you feeling when you heard the results?
Lindsay Arnold: Unfortunately, we found out we were in the bottom before we even danced, so when that happens, that just makes you feel so nervous. Realizing we could do this dance great, but then still be going home.
I was nervous and Calvin was nervous, too, which meant a lot 'cause I'm like, "OK, he cares about this." You could tell he really did not want to go home. So that was terrifying -- that moment was really, really scary. I mean, even though we had such a great night with our dance, you still just never know.
I think it's safe to say you guys made up for that with your tango, so fierce! Everyone is talking about those insane lifts. How did you get Calvin to master those?
With him, I realize that, even though it might sound extremely crazy and impossible, I just have to try it. I've found that so many things work with him that couldn't work with any other partner I've had on the show, so it’s really exciting for me. I feel I'm able to do things that I wouldn't even try with some professional dancers!
The lifts just work for him, and he's willing to try my crazy ideas. Surprisingly, [that triple flip] didn't take as long as him to learn as I thought it would.
But crazy enough, the first two days of our rehearsal we had a dance studio that only had about 10-foot ceilings, so we couldn't practice the lifts for the first two days. That was scary for me because with lifts, you want to be practicing them every single day to avoid mistakes.
We finally tried the lift Thursday afternoon, on Friday it just started clicking, and by Saturday it was locked in. I'm flying upside down, so lots of things could go wrong, but I've trusted him to take care of me and he has.
You had some tough competition this week, especially with Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko, who also performed the Argentine tango. Regardless, the level of difficulty in your dance blew viewers away, same with Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy's routine. Do you feel the judges are being too hard on Calvin?
It's hard to [read] the judges this season. I feel like they are definitely judging on different calibers per couple, which sometimes happens and it's fine, because I feel like the dance was so impactful that it didn't really matter what scores we got. That was such a breakthrough moment for Calvin that when it came to the scoring, I just didn't really care. I was just so proud of him and know that he proved to everybody watching that we should not be in the bottom anymore -- that they should pick up the phone and vote for us.
It's frustrating to see, especially for Val and Laurie, it's odd -- it just doesn't seem right to get the scores [they received]. For the amount of content in their routine, same as us, it's a little bit odd to sometimes see the scores be a lot lower than other people. But honestly last night, I did not care about the scores, I was just proud [of Calvin]! I know that people at home watching were impressed with what we did, so that's all that matters to me.
Many fans of the show were shocked that Amber Rose and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, were sent home last night, especially with Amber's massive social media following. At this point in the competition, it's all about the fan voting, so how do you and Calvin plan to engage your followers and get them to root for you?
That is so true! With someone who has the biggest following of anyone on the show, Amber Rose is the one who went home. It goes to show that if you're not keeping them engaged throughout the week and making them want more, your fans might not be tuning in or voting. And voting is what we rely on to stay in the competition. Yes, the scores matter, doing the dance well matters, but the fans tuning in and watching us is really important.
Last night I was harping on Calvin being like, "We really gotta get into it with our Instagram. We gotta be asking some of our friends we know, some of your teammates, to help people get out and vote for us." That is the biggest part of the show. But I do think that people enjoy Calvin, and if he can continue to open up and show America who he is each week, I feel like they're going to want to keep him in this competition.
The competition is clearly heating up, and the leaderboard has changed quite drastically. Aside from social media, how do you and Calvin plan to get back on top?
We made a huge leap from last week, and we have the jive this week, which I think is going to be really fun for Calvin. He has been looking forward to doing this style since the beginning. The first few weeks we did a few basic jive steps and he liked it, I think because it's similar to football in the way that there's fast footwork, high energy -- that's like in his nature. The jive is also extremely hard and there's a lot of technique that goes into it, so the biggest thing I want to do this week is grill him with his technique. I already know his performance level will be there, so I want him to look like a dancer. I want him to prove, like last night, that he can be the leading dancer.
On a less serious note, we also saw a funny side of Calvin during his interview package, trying to take some sexy selfies. Tell us more about how that went down!
There were so many laughs behind the scenes during rehearsal this week! It was funny because I initially asked him, "Do you have a selfie face? Have you ever taken a selfie and sent it to your wife when you're gone, away from each other for a while?" He was like, "No way!"
I finally got him to admit that he had, and he showed me this one and it was so funny -- he had sunglasses on and was doing like a full duck face. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen! I'll have to try to steal his phone and get that to you guys for next time, but he gets really shy and embarrassed by that kind of stuff.
One thing most fans also probably don't know, Calvin sweats so much. I will leave rehearsals drenched in sweat, and not in my own -- just his.
Well, we're very interested in seeing those, so get to it! Switching gears, your fellow pro dancer Maksim confirmed to ET last night that he won't be returning as a pro dancer next season. All of us dance fans agree that we'd love to see him return as a judge. How would you feel about him taking on that role?
I think it's so cool to see someone go from being a professional to a judge, because they judge in a different light. They have been in our position, and they know what it's like to be the professional, taking on a celebrity and trying to teach them something new, so they understand it all a little bit more. With Julianne Hough, she knows what it's like to be in our position, so I feel like when she judges, she's judging with the knowledge of what we went through throughout the week.
So, I think it'd be really cool to see Maks as a judge. He was a guest judge one week [on a previous season], and I thought he did a really great job. I thought he gave great feedback, and it was really helpful feedback -- he gave specific critiques that we could go back and really work on.
Lastly, how did you feel about having Pitbull, Mr. 305, as judge?
Oh my gosh, Pitbull gave us our first 10, so he can come back anytime he wants! I was so stoked.
The DWTS pro will be chatting with ET every Tuesday throughout the competition, and taking over ET's Snapchat (@etnow) each Monday. Got a question for Arnold or Johnson? Tweet me @desireemurphy_!