Amid Divorce, Heather Mills Focuses on 'Dancing'

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Heather Mills isn't easily offended, so I just went right ahead and asked the question: "You are in a dancing competition, and you have only got one leg. A problem?"

She smirked.

"You know what's really funny," she said. "It's kind of balanced up. Because I do a lot of sport, because I'm kind of quite flexible, the things that are normally hard for people to do I find easy. But the things that are really simple for people, like just walking in a straight line, I find very, very difficult."

Mills was a 25-year-old model when she lost her leg. She was crossing a London street when the accident happened.

"Police motorcycle chops my leg off, crushes my pelvis, punctures my lung," she said without flinching.

Her partner on "Dancing With the Stars," Jonathan Roberts, admits that he flinched when told he was teaming up with Mills.

"I was like, in a bit of shock," Roberts told me. "Like, my goodness, what is she thinking? That's actually what went through my mind."

Mills disarmed and calmed him. As they got to know each other in the studio, she announced bluntly, "There's the chance after lots and lots and lots of dancing that it could just come off."

Promos for "Dancing With the Stars" call this Mills' "ultimate dancing test." But dancing is the least of her troubles at the moment.

"For me this has been quite a holiday," she said, "because my life's so megastressful and so busy."

She's a mother to the daughter she had with Sir Paul McCartney, she's a campaigner for animal rights and disabled charities, and she's involved in one of the most bitter and public divorce battles Britain has ever seen.

Last summer Mills and McCartney announced their separation. McCartney is a national treasure, a former Beatle and an aging icon of Britain's 1960s halcyon days.

Mills, on the other hand, is 25 years his junior, a former model from a humble background with what the tabloids say is a sordid past. In the battle for British hearts and minds there can be only one winner.

The tabloids have hounded Mills, printing a string of lurid allegations as well as old, saucy photos they say show Mills in what might charitably be described as "artistic poses."

Papers have even printed what they say are extracts from divorce papers in which she allegedly accuses McCartney of "unreasonable behavior." She is suing, but the tabloid interest persists.

We met Mills in a hotel in Brighton on England's south coast, near where she lives and near where she's training to dance live on national television. The ground rules for this interview were pretty clear: no leather chairs and no roast beef sandwiches (Mills is a vegan). Also, no mention of McCartney, the divorce or marriage.

So how does she cope with the constant media scrutiny?

"Most of the time I'm pretty good," she said. "When it's concerning my daughter or anything or very personal to my charity and it's harming my charity then I kind of [get] stressed."

She tries to laugh it off.

"I don't think the public in general, whatever country it is, are that stupid to believe all the incontinent rubbish that comes out of tabloids' mouths."

Win or lose on "Dancing With the Stars," Mills says she's on the show to prove a point to other people with disabilities.

"What I want to do is show that you can get out there and do anything with an artificial leg," she said. "I mean, we've got people with two legs missing running the 100 meters in 11.3 seconds."

In practice, Roberts has been amazed by what Mills can achieve on the floor. "But there some things that you just can't get around," he said, worried about persnickety judges.

"I don't know how they'll take that into account. Because it is a dance competition and it is to determine who's the best dancer. So how much whether you take a toe instead of a heel plays in? We'll see," Roberts said.

But Mills seems calm in the face of this challenge. Is she even just a little bit nervous?

"No, not yet. I don't really get nervous unless I'm going to meet potential mother-in-laws, so that's not going to be happening."

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