These days, our knowledge of celebrities too often originates with paparazzi images and snarky quotes by anonymous "insiders." After a while, it's easy to forget that stars are real people. That's why HuffPost Celebrity decided to launch its all-new #nofilter quick-fire question-and-answer series. Because how well do you know someone until they've shared their guiltiest pleasures?
Mark Ballas has wowed audiences for years as a pro-dancer on "Dancing With The Stars." The 27-year-old, who has salsa'ed with everyone from Kim Kardashian to Bristol Palin, recently appeared on Season 17 of the show and plans to continue to compete for years to come.
But did you know Ballas was raised in London or that he watches countless hours of TV in his free time?
He chatted with HuffPost Celebrity yesterday (Dec. 4) and revealed that and a whole lot more while taking our #nofilter challenge.
When's the last time you cried?
Two times actually. Once during “Les Mis” the movie. Like, sobbing! Sobbing, during “Les Mis.” And then when I went to see Celine Dion. [Laughs] I went to see Celine Dion in Vegas and it was ah-mazing. She started singing the “Beauty and the Beast” song and it was a wrap. Yeah, it was really incredible.
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
I’m a horrible TV junkie. I finished “Breaking Bad,” I’m caught up on “Walking Dead,” I finished “Game of Thrones” and I started “Homeland” like two weeks ago and I just finished Season 1. I’m behind, I’m catching up.
What's the silliest thing you've ever lied about?
When we were living in London, Derek [Hough] and I stole my mom’s car when he was 15 and I was 14. And in England you have to be 17 to drive, and we stole the car. And my mom wasn’t in town so we thought, "We are not getting busted." But when she got back, she went to the local dance store to buy shoes and the guy who sells the shoes -- they’re friends -- and he was like, "I didn’t know your boys passed their driving test?" So that night she came home and she was like, "Did you steal the car?" And we were like, "No." And then Julianne [Hough] did us in, she totally told her what we did. [Laughs]
If you could commit a crime and get away with it, what would it be?
I’d like to probably reenact like “Ocean’s 13” and like, rob the Bellagio. Just like abseil down through the roof, through the lasers, with like a team of all my best friends. That would be awesome.
What's one thing you do when you're alone that you wouldn't do in front of someone else?
I tickle my own arm. Like, when I’m at home alone, I tickle myself, like this, [brushes his fingers up and down his forearm]. But usually if I have company, it’s like, ‘Tickle my arm, girl!” [laughs]
What happens in your recurring dream?
I have a daughter. It’s weird. I always have a daughter with me. I have dreams where I’ll just be like doing something and then I have like, this daughter. It’s interesting. I’ve already picked out names for her and everything.
What’s the working title of your autobiography?
"This S--t Is Crazy, But I Like It."
Is it okay to recline your seat on an airplane?
Absolutely, you have to recline your seat. Sometimes there’s more space where if the person in front of you leans back in your space, cool, but when it’s really tight, I usually recline my seat. The worst is kids that recline their seats and they’re shaking and wiggling.
When do you feel most anxious?
Um, every day. Just in life, I’m anxious. I’m a busybody so I’m anxious when I have a day off. I need to learn how to have a day off. During the season and when I’m recording or playing gigs or dancing, I’m like, "Ugh, I’m so tired I want to have a day off." And then I get one and I'm just like, fidgety.
What or who is overrated right now?
Twerking. Twerking is so overrated like, stop. Everyone’s got to stop. Twerking is so old, too. My grandma talks about twerking and I’m like, no! No, grandma!
Is a good friend hard to come by?
Oh yeah, especially in L.A. I feel like in cities like L.A., people are always trying to look for the next big thing. Like to push themselves forward. And I think a true friend is someone that has your back when you’re up, when you’re down and someone that will stay engaged in conversation, who’s not looking to see who else they can go and talk to, I have no time for people like that. My mom’s side of the family is from Liverpool in England and that’s just some really tough down-to-earth people and I was just raised to not have mentality for people like that.
Describe one time you thought "This is harder than it looks."
Wakeboarding. I used to skateboard, and I was like, good at it and I got in the water and I was like, "Ah, this is going to be a piece of cake." And for the first hour and a half, I was just like, "No." I was so sore. I got up the next day, I was so frustrated and Derek was like, "You have to come wakeboarding man, you got to come wakeboarding!" And he was like, boop! [Up on the board] And I was like, "Why can’t I get up!" But I got it the next day. It’s a lot harder than it looks.
Tell us a joke.
I won’t tell you my usually go-to jokes because they’re very, very dirty. But this one is, “What do you call a fish with no eye? A f-s-h.” [Laughs] That one is great, especially after a few drinks.
What are you most afraid of?
Dying in bed alone. Or being torn limb from limb by a shark. But I love sharks, like shark week is my jam. But man, the thought of all that power.
When do you feel most at peace?
Watching “Homeland?” [Laughs] No, I’m most at peace when I’m with my family. I just went home for Thanksgiving and we got together all of us just dancing and listening to music and talking. We’re loud and rambunctious and there’s over 20 of us and we’re Greek and Hispanic, so we're a rowdy group. I just feel so comfortable there. And my best friends, too. I say I can count my really good friends on one hand and when I’m around them I always feel super comfortable. Family and friends are everything. Without them, there’s just no point.
What's the most unusual thing you have in your purse/wallet?
I have a picture of my dad in high school. I think that it was on his 50th birthday that my uncle laid out these hilarious pictures of my dad and I was like, "This is a cracker!" (Editor's Note: Cracker is British slang for something that you think is very funny.) So I kept it, and the other day I was going through my wallet and getting rid of like receipts and stuff and I found it and he’s 54 now, so I’ve had it in my wallet for four years. It’s really funny.
What sense would you most be afraid to lose?
Sight, probably. Sight and hearing too, because I don’t want to not hear music. I couldn’t do that.
Do you think it would be more difficult to dance without sound or without sight?
Probably without sight because I’m so experienced now. But if I was in a dance, and say you put some ear muffs on to cancel out the sound, and I was in a group, I could keep it going by looking at the others and just feeling the vibrations on the floor. You can feel like the beats. But if you’re blind, yeah, no.
By the looks of his moves (and stamina) you would never know Ballas is a smoker. He has teamed up with the new program BluePrint to Quit to kick his smoking habit and regain a healthier lifestyle.
"I've been smoking on and off since I was 15 or 16," he told HuffPost Celebrity. "Dancers think they’re invincible and then you reach 25 and you pass your prime as a dancer, and you really do start to feel little body changes."
"Blueprint is really great because it offered me a routine," he continued, explaining how they helped him quit smoking. "It gave me a really strong program to follow, it gave me a target, it gave me goals and it wasn’t just based off of pure will power and discipline."
For more on Blueprint to Quit, visit their website.