The past three months have been life-changing for Frankie Muniz.
The Malcolm in the Middle star broke down in tears on Monday night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars when he reflected on his journey on season 25 of the reality dancing competition, which premiered in September, and working with pro partner Witney Carson.
For night one of the finals, Carson, 24, was torn about choreographing a powerful or fun freestyle dance for Muniz, who was going head-to-head with the three fellow remaining contestants at the top of the show: Lindsey Stirling, Jordan Fisher and Drew Scott (who was ultimately eliminated).
“I had something envisioned for this freestyle, I wanted it to be super powerful, I just don’t know whether or not to go with my gut or if I should listen to the producers and go with something more fun and upbeat,” Carson said to Muniz.
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But Muniz, 31, had full faith in Carson — who decided to go with the powerful routine for the pair’s freestyle — and said to her, “I trust you 100 percent.”
“Frankie is an amazing teammate. He’s helped me through this decision the whole way. This song was my gut instinct,” Carson said of her celebrity partner. “It’s a powerful, serious number that totally represents Frankie because he’s come so far when people didn’t think that he would.”
In his video package before his final dance of the night, Muniz praised Carson for pushing him to face his fears and helping shape him into the person he is today.
“I think what got me here to the finals is Witney. Everything that she’s done for me has been incredible. Witney helped prove that I could face my fears and do anything. She helped me get here to the finals and to where I am as a person right now,” a tearful Muniz said. “I’ll always be thankful to her for that.”
After performing their second dance of the night — the pair earned a 38/40 for their freestyle — Muniz praised DWTS for the experience of a lifetime.
“I never in a million years when I started this show thought I would make it to the finals. But more than that, I never expected to gain so much confidence. This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever been a part of. I love it — I honestly do,” he told co-host Tom Bergeron, and later said to Erin Andrews, “Working with has been so incredible, it’s been such an amazing experience, but doing that dance, it felt right, it felt good and I’m so happy that we did it.”
Added Carson: “I’m so happy with that decision. I really wanted to pick something that embodied this journey and it’s true — he defied the odds. He came out here and he fought and I’m just so proud of him. I’m so happy. I’m sad that this is over. … I’ve had the most amazing journey with him. He’s so special to me.”
Muniz will compete against Fisher and Stirling on Tuesday’s Dancing with the Stars finale, airing at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.