- Former “Blue’s Clues” host Steve Burns opened up about his depression in a new interview Wednesday.
- Burns told Variety he was the “happiest depressed person in North America” while working on the show.
- The actor also said that false rumors of his death contributed to his exit from public life.
Former “Blue’s Clues” host Steve Burns said he struggled with “severe clinical depression” before leaving the children’s TV show in 2001.
Speaking with Variety’s Selome Hailu in an interview published Wednesday, the actor said he was “the happiest depressed person in North America” while working on the series for Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. channel. The show followed his character, also named Steve, and his animated puppy Blue as they gathered clues to solve puzzles.
“I was struggling with severe clinical depression the whole time I was on that show. It was my job to be utterly and completely full of joy and wonder at all times, and that became impossible,” he told Variety. “I was always able to dig and find something that felt authentic to me that was good enough to be on the show, but after years and years of going to the well without replenishing it, there was a cost.”
In a 2006 Nick Jr. special Burns said that he left “Blue’s Clues” because he was losing his hair and didn’t want to wear a wig on television, adding in his Variety interview that he knew he “wasn’t going to be boyish anymore.”
Following his exit, rumors spread that Burns died. Although he attempted to dispel the gossip with public appearances, he said the story of his death was “persistent.”
“I was under the working assumption that most of y’all thought I was dead. That rumor was so persistent and so indelible that I assumed it was a cultural preference. I eventually just took the hint,” he told Variety. “I kept my head down and left public life.”
Burns also told the outlet that he wishes he reached out for help while he was still on the show. He highlighted his father’s death in 2015 as a moment that made him “reevaluate and take much more seriously my mental health.”
In September 2021, Burns worked with Nick Jr. on a video for the 25th anniversary of “Blue’s Clues,” thanking his fans for helping him through tough times and reminding them that he was still there. Two months later, he joined TikTok, where he currently has more than 1.5 million followers.
According to Variety, the former host made his return to the beloved franchise while working on the revival series “Blue’s Clues & You,” which debuted in 2019. He’s also featured in the Paramount+ film “Blue’s Big City Adventure,” released on Friday, and travels to colleges to speak to students about mental health.
“It’s very on brand for me to not have the answers. Steve was the guy who needed you. He doesn’t appear like a role model. He had difficulty differentiating between shapes and colors,” Burns said about his character. “But Steve became my role model. Because he was not afraid to ask for help.”