Gilles Marini is a tall, dark, hunk of dancin' love. Obviously he's a good-looking guy, but there's a lot more to the Dancing With the Stars alum than that. He's also a good-sounding guy with that French accent. What else should you know about the lucky Season 15 All-Stars contestant once paired with Cheryl Burke and now with Peta Murgatroyd? Here are five tidbits about the "je t’aime"-worthy Jheeeels...
1. He’s an Army vet firefighter who emerged from a land of perfume.
Gilles, age 36, was born to a Greek mother and an Italian father in the town of Grasse — considered the world's capital of perfume! — on the French Riviera. His father had a bakery and Gilles started working there at age 8. After high school, Gilles joined the French Army and was stationed in Paris as a fireman. In Paris, he met Fred Goudon, the photographer who introduced him to the world of modeling.
In 2008 he got his big break as Samantha’s sexy neighbor Dante in the Sex and the City film. Since then, he's starred on Brothers & Sisters, and has had guest acting roles on Modern Family, Castle, Ugly Betty, Criminal Minds, Hot in Cleveland, Are You There, Chelsea? and more.
2. He lost his first season by less than 1 percent.
We liked to call Season 14’s William Levy the new Gilles Marini, but Gilles was actually the second foreign hottie to dance with Cheryl Burke. First, she got to third place with Cristian de la Fuente on Season 6. Then, on Season 8, Gilles and Cheryl dominated the judges’ leaderboard, but they lost in the end to Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas, who are also returning for All-Stars. Shawn had a perfect score for her Freestyle, and Gilles did not, and that could be what led to Shawn's win. Host Tom Bergeron said less than 1 percent separated the top two scores of the spring 2009 season. So for Gilles, he at least needs to beat Shawn to have some kind of redemption. He’s been taking dance classes to get himself back into dancing shape, but he also admitted that he’s already hurt his knee. So that could be an issue.
3. He wants to win All-Stars for his daughter.
Gilles has been married to his wife Carole since 1998 and they have two children, George and Juliana. Gilles is always out and about at events with his family. He talked to E! News about All-Stars while holding daughter Juliana in his arms. "The first time I did Dancing With the Stars, I did it for her,” Gilles said. “She's always wearing those beautiful little tutus. But she was 2-and-a-half/3-years-old. Now she's 6-years-old so she's really going to enjoy [watching the show]. So I don't want to lose probably because of her, first, and then for the other reasons."
4. He's a celeb soccer player.
Gilles is listed as a forward on Hollywood United's over-30 Los Angeles Premier League. Other famous names who have played for the team include actors Anthony LaPaglia, Dermot Mulroney, Jason Statham, Brandon Routh and Donal Logue, along with singers Robbie Williams and Ziggy Marley. So his fancy footwork skills should still be intact!
5. He's a new American citizen
Gilles moved to LA in 2002, and on June 28, 2012, he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. "It's very difficult to express what I feel just because it's 10 years in the making," Gilles told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "I've been working really hard and I adore this country, so for me it means really something very special. You get choked up, you know? It's fantastic. I'm an American. So I have to speak with less accent. Oops." Gilles also proudly tweeted a form letter from President Barack Obama congratulating him on being a new citizen. "That is the most important letter I ever had ;) Thanks to @BarackObama . Yes, surreal but now I am American citizen!"
Dancing With the Stars Season 15: All-Stars will premiere on Monday, September 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Check out the full All-Stars cast list here.
Sources: ABC, Greek Reporter, E! Online, E! News, On the Red Carpet, @GillesMarini
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.