As a former host of Blue’s Clues, Steve Burns is known for playing one of television’s happiest characters. From 1996 until 2002, Burns played the role of boyish, innocent Steve, best friend to an animated blue dog named Blue. Every episode would see Steve searching for “Blue’s Clues” in order to figure out what her plans are for the day, all the while asking for help from the young viewers. Burns left the series in 2002, at which point Donovan Patton took over as Steve’s cousin Joe, the new host of the show.
These days, the Blue’s Clues franchise lives on with the reboot series Blue’s Clues & You! with new host Josh Dela Cruz. Both Burns and Patton make special appearances in the series, which started from the very first episode with the two welcoming Josh into his new role. Last year, Burns also went viral after releasing a video in character as Steve from Blue’s Clues telling his fans that he never forgot about them.
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Reflecting on his run as Steve on the original show, Burns tells Variety that he was actually struggling with depression at the time. He explains that it became increasingly more difficult to feel happy when off the clock as his job was to always appear as joyful as possible. Burns was able to tough it out for as long as he had by weighing in what was wonderful about playing the role, but that could only go on for so long.
“I didn’t know it yet, but I was the happiest depressed person in North America. 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. 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.”
Steve Burns Loves Blue’s Clues More Than Ever Nowadays
Burns says he now regrets that he didn’t seek help for his mental health while he was still hosting Blue’s Clues. He feels that he still would have left the series regardless but would have better appreciated his time on the series while he was still there.
“My strategy had been: ‘Hey, you got a great thing going, so just fight it!’ Turns out, you don’t fight depression; you collect it. After I left Blue’s Clues, there was a long period of healing. It wasn’t until the death of my father that I really started to take things seriously, and my life became so much more manageable… (If I sought help back then) I would have been able to throw my arms around the role, and relax into it a little more. Because now, when I look back, all I see is what an impossible gift that was.”
The actor is now happier than ever to be associated with Blue’s Clues and the Steve character. He describes the feeling of suiting up in Steve’s current wardrobe as “freeing,” though one must also wonder if he also enjoys doing limited appearances as opposed to working in front of the Blue’s Clues greenscreens on a full-time basis.
“I’ve never enjoyed being Steve more than I do now. I get to wear a trenchcoat. It’s like Grover-meets-Columbo — a clown character. That’s really freeing somehow.”
Burns also teams back up with Josh Dela Cruz and Donovan Patton for the franchise’s first feature film, Blue’s Big City Adventure, which hits Paramount+ on Nov. 18, 2022. You can watch the trailer for that below.