Friday , July 19 2024
Steve Burns and moderator Victor Dandridge (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

GalaxyCon Columbus: Steve Burns from ‘Blue’s Clues’

When Steve Burns was auditioning for Blue’s Clues in the late 1990s, his career could have wound up differently. During his GalaxyCon Columbus panel, Burns said, “I was almost a recurring regular on a TV show called Homicide, which was the most serious show!”

He did take the role of Steve on children’s show Blue’s Clues, which he was on from 1996 to 2002 and returned briefly for a 2021 special. During the pandemic, Burns addressed why he left the show in a video that went viral. He spoke more about it at this Ohio comic con.

“I was fighting severe clinical depression. I had no idea that’s what was going on. I didn’t know what it was. It was hard to be the happiest person in North America … When I left the show, I still hadn’t dealt with that at all.”

On Friends in Real Life

Burns, who recently turned 50 years old, feels that he’s in a much better place after battling depression. He highly recommends the happiness you can find with a furry friend at home. “The best part after Blue’s Clues was I had a great dog in real life.”

He also has a friend from his Blue’s Clues days. “Donovan Patton, who played Joe, is a dear friend of mine. He’s one of my favorite people on earth. He took care of me when I got Covid. We’re still good friends.”

Photo of Steve Burns and Victor Dandridge on stage
Steve Burns and moderator Victor Dandridge (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

On Filming Blue’s Clues

Burns filmed Blue’s Clues in a room by himself with a blue screen, lights, and a camera. He couldn’t even see the producer from there. “Blue’s Clues felt very small to me and it felt very personal. I personalized that relationship with the camera because it was my acting partner. I didn’t even have props!”

He had to visualize where the other characters would be on the screen, which could be fun and challenging at times. “My least favorite character to act with was Slippery Soap. Because he’s like this, whoa, whoa! I’m talking to the camera and trying to memorize that he’s there when I say that line, he’s [over] there when I say that line. Side Table Drawer was easy: stationary!”

On the Value of Wonder

Burns enjoyed the musical numbers on the show. “I like ‘The Planet Song’ a lot. The musicians for the show were Mr. Salt and Mailbox. Those were the musicians. They were talented, crazy talented guys!”

His favorite characters on the show were Mr. Salt and Side Table Drawer, because he loved the actors and the character’s personalities. Mr. Salt “was also the other befuddled sort of like man-child character in the house.” Side Table Drawer was a “cool little metaphor” as a shy and helpful character with a beautiful singing voice.

But one key ingredient to Burns’ approach was how much he respected his audience. He felt that his character should never be cooler than the kids. A condescending TV host might engage initially, as early reels indicated with other actors who auditioned. However, that approach would only get so far with kids, who loved the quality interactions Burns offered in the footage that the network was testing.

“Wonder is contagious and if you can lean into that, people are drawn to that anticipatory joy of wonder.”

Visit the GalaxyCon Columbus website for more information. Follow Steve Burns on Instagram for his latest updates.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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