Former ‘Blue’s Clues’ host Steve Burns talks about depression

Steve Burns shines

Steve Burns stars in ‘Blue’s Clues’. (Photo: Nickelodeon Network/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

On the Nick Jr. show Blue clues In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Steve Burns, who played the animated pup’s bestie, was always affable on the outside. But inside it was a different story.

“I didn’t know it yet, but I was the happiest depressed person in North America,” Burns said Variety on the eve of his appearance in the new film Blue’s big city adventure. “I struggled with severe clinical depression the entire time I was on that show. It was my job to be completely and completely full of joy and wonder at all times, and that became impossible. I was always able to dig and find something that felt authentic to me and was good enough to be on the show, but after years and years of going down the drain without refilling it, there was a cost.

Burns said he hadn’t expected to take a job on a children’s show, especially at that point in his life.

“I moved to New York to be a much, quote unquote, ‘cooler’ thing – an Al Pacino-Dustin Hoffman hybrid. But I have to say, even at the first audition, there was something I loved was: this idea of ​​talking to the camera, like a Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton thing,” he said. “I thought the interactivity was really a breakthrough. I used to call it The Rocky Horror Kids Show. But yeah, the persona wasn’t what a 22-year-old guy would have wanted.”

After launching the show, he eventually stayed until 2001. But even his departure that year wasn’t a quick fix for his mental health struggles.

The unexpected move even inspired conspiracy theories that he had died, with the cause often attributed to a car accident or a heroin overdose. “I assumed most of you thought I was dead,” he said. “That rumor was so persistent and so indelible that I assumed it was a cultural preference. In the end I just got the hint. I kept my head down and left public life.

Burns said he regretted not seeking help while he was still working Blue clues.

“My strategy would have been, ‘Hey, you’ve got something great, so just fight it!’ Turns out you don’t fight depression; you collect it,” he said. “After I was gone Blue clues, there was a long period of healing. It wasn’t until after my father’s death that I really started taking things seriously and my life became so much more manageable.”

After his father’s death in 2015, Burns felt called to move to an unnamed town in the Catskill Mountains, similar to the place in Pennsylvania where he grew up; It is very different from Brooklyn, NY, which had been his adopted home.

And his love affair with it had begun when, still grieving, he stopped in town to get gas.

“I felt my dad say, ‘Hey, man. Get back behind this gas station.’ I’m very skeptical about this kind of experience, but it was the most casual, pragmatic, unspiritual atmosphere ever,” Burns said. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure, Dad, whatever,’ and went back. There were 150 monarch butterflies drinking from a small puddle. I won’t go into why, but butterflies had a special meaning between me and my dad, so I went over there to take a picture, and they Batman had me. I was like, ‘That’s a sign!’

Now, when Burns isn’t in or showing up at his new home Blue clueswhich he enjoys more than ever, he visits colleges to talk to students about mental health.

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