Cheryl Ladd & Louis van Amstel Talk Their Near-Miss Elimination on ‘DWTS’
Charles Townsend Agency detective, Kris Munroe, played by Cheryl Ladd, escaped from a few tough spots during her four seasons on the hit ’70s series Charlie’s Angels. But none of them came close to the real-life danger Ladd was in last week on Dancing With the Stars when she and pro dance partner Louis van Amstel were in the bottom two and looking at being sent home.
Judges Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli sided against Ladd and van Amstel. It appeared as if the show was going to say “Goodbye, Angel.” However, judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman (whose vote carries more weight) opted to keep Ladd in the competition. On Monday, October 3, she and van Amstel are set to compete again on the dance floor in a James Bond-themed dance.
TV Insider chatted with the underdogs about their off-screen friendship, their game plan to make a comeback, and if Ladd’s up for a revival of Charlie’s Angels. Read on to get the scoop.
How did your joining DWTS come about? You two look like you’ve been friends for some time.
Cheryl Ladd: Years ago, my publicist, Jay Schwartz, had a birthday party. I met Louis then. He talked about my doing the show and dancing with him. This went on and off for a while. Jay came back to me recently and asked me again. I said, ‘You know? I would consider it. And if I could dance with Louis, I’d really consider it.’
Louis van Amstel: I met Cheryl at Jay’s birthday party. I also met Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, and Jaclyn Smith [Charlie’s Angels] that same night. Jay had been talking to Cheryl. Deena Katz [DWTS’s casting producer] also reached out to Cheryl. This time, she said, ‘Yes,’ and she insisted that I be her partner. My last season was 2015 with Paula Deen. I thought I was done with the show after that. I was a judge in 2019 in the Dutch version of Dancing With the Stars. Now, here I am! I’m grateful and am enjoying it. It’s good to be back!
Ladd: I was a big fan of the show. Louis was always my favorite. There was something about him that touched my heart. He’s such a good human being.
We’ve already seen Vinny Guadagnino (Jersey Shore) and Trevor Donovan (Hallmark Channel) have comebacks after week one debuts. Do you hope to have the same kind of comeback with your James Bond dance?
Ladd: Yes. I’m doing a dance that I really like. It’s the complete opposite of the tango [which I did last week]. Everything is so specific. In a way, this is the complete opposite. Yes, it’s specific but it’s the rumba, and it’s fluid. There are some fast things and some stopping but it’s like liquid. We have a great song that we’re dancing to. We’re both loving it.
How did you feel last week when two judges voted not to save you and you were only going to remain in the competition if both of the remaining judges voted to save you?
Ladd: I was pretty sure I was out and was going to go home. Then, Carrie Ann [Inaba] said she felt a little responsible because she pushed Louis to give me more. She felt maybe I wasn’t quite ready. Then, when Len [Goodman] said, ‘I want to congratulate you on doing a proper tango’ I felt I’d been given a tiny bit of hope. When I learned we were saved, I felt like Miss America.
Van Amstel: I was scared s**tless but when Len saved us, Cheryl turned to me and I saw her eyes watering up. This show means so much to her. Yes, she’s said no to doing the show in the past, but she is loving being on it now. She wants to do well so badly.
You could not tell but part of me was hoping we’d be safe. Part of me was calm even after Derek and Bruno voted not to save us. Later, I told Cheryl that in a world championship competition I was in, I lost the first two out of five dances, and then, I won the last three. I believe it’s not over ’til it’s over. It was zero to two, but then it went our way. Honestly, everyone can see the passion and the progress that Cheryl has and has made. You can see so much in there. It’s coming. That’s what Dancing With the Stars is all about.
Can you preview your dance on James Bond night?
Ladd: [The dance] starts out with me [playing] a very specific character. A very specific character.
Van Amstel: My approach has always been a little different than other pros. I go from the “inside out” approach. This week, I’m going back to basics. It’s all about pointing your toes, standing up straight, pulling in your abs, knowing the timing and the counts, and closing your feet. I’m giving Cheryl more details. Sometimes, the lights go on on show night and you get nervous. I’m sharing this because they will see [tonight] what a great job we can do.
Cheryl, what was it like joining Charlie’s Angels, replacing Farrah Fawcett?
Ladd: It was overwhelming. When Farrah was leaving, Aaron Spelling [Charlie’s Angels producer] called me and asked me to join the show. I said no. Who was going to try to replace that icon? Farrah was the Marilyn Monroe of the moment. I said thank you but no. He looked at other actresses for about two months. I was married to David Ladd at the time. We walked into the Palm restaurant one night. There was Aaron and his wife and a friend of theirs. The friend was saying, ‘You’ll find [Farrah’s replacement]. What about her [me]?’
Aaron said: ‘That’s Cheryl. She said no!’ I went over and talked to him. I was anxious to work with him again on something. The next morning, he asked me to come in for a meeting and I did. I sat across from him and he said, ‘What’s your issue?’ I said, ‘These are big shoes. Nobody can fill them.’ I asked, ‘But what if I could be funny?’ He said, ‘Why not?’ I said if my character tried really hard then people would root for her because they do that for the underdog. Aaron said, ‘What if you’re [Jill’s] little sister and you’re already family?’ Then, I had a person to play. I had to have a heart and a soul. It made perfect sense to me.
Louis, what it was like when Dancing With the Stars became this phenomenon where you and the other pros became overnight celebrities?
Van Amstel: I learned how popular the pros had become around the time they decided to do [the first] stadium tour. I had two seasons under my belt of being in the top four. I was asked to choreograph the stadium tour with Carrie Ann Inaba. I asked Julianne [Hough] what her brother [Derek Hough] was doing for the summer. I wanted him to be a part of the tour. At the show, we know the hundreds of people in the audience represent so many more. But when we go on tour and see so many more people? The applause and the roar – that’s when it hits. We toured all across the U.S. I asked myself, ‘Am I going to let this go to my head or am I going to find opportunities to find businesses?’ I’m so proud to say that now, my company – LaBlast Fitness – is in 12 countries. We have a school program and we certify instructors.
Some Charlie’s Angels fans would have loved it if Kris and the other Angels finally got to see Charlie [voiced by John Forsythe] but that didn’t happen – on screen.
Ladd: Everybody wanted to see Charlie — including the Angels! After the show ended, John moved into a house near the one where my husband and I lived. I had met him briefly at an ABC event but when went became neighbors. He’d call me up and say, ‘Good morning!’
Charlie’s Angels received criticism from some but the show was about three women who were friends and were more often than not three steps ahead of the bad guys.
Ladd: The Angels were there for each other. Always. That was a really good thing. There are a lot of shows where women don’t get along or they use each other. We were a group of women who were there for each other.
What’s it like being part of a show that continues to resonate with audiences?
Ladd: One of the most recent delights I experienced was when two little girls came and rang my doorbell. My husband answered it. The girls asked, ‘Would it be okay if we got Miss Ladd’s autograph? Our moms let us watch Charlie’s Angels and we love her so much!’
How does it feel to be back on DWTS?
Van Amstel: It’s great. It almost feels like Season 1 again. The skybox is back. We have two hosts now that Alfonso [Ribeiro] has joined the show. We also have Conrad Green back [as executive producer].
How about a new revival series – a series in which Kris and Kelly [Jaclyn Smith] run the agency and there are three field operatives named “Charles,” “Charlotte,” and “Chaz”? Charlies’ Angels!
Ladd: I like it! Get that organized and get someone to think about it!
To keep Cheryl Ladd and Louis van Amstel in the competition, text CHERYL to 21523.
Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, Disney+