LeVar Burton has not shown any confusion over his Jeopardy! hosting appearance. He wants the job, he needs the job, the job is his if he has any say about it. For now the Star Trek alum and Reading Rainbow host is only guest hosting the show, but he's keeping hope alive.
Burton admits that it wasn't easy to follow in late host Alex Trebek's shoes, with the shadow and pace of the show casting a heavy shadow. This led to a rocky start to his tapings, according to a chat in the Seattle Times.
"Being at home, it feels like a really relaxed half-hour, but it's not relaxed at all," Burton tells the outlet. "You can't let your focus drop for a nanosecond."
For Burton, he luckily had someone backstage who could help him correct course with some honest criticism: wife Stephanie Cozart Burton. She did his makeup backstage and offered some help during a production break.
"I've jumped out of airplanes. I've walked over hot coals. This was a real challenge. First of all, because (Jeopardy!) is singular in the culture and what it means to people as a part of their daily lives. And the fact that there are only two hosts who have ever stood in that spot," Burton reveals. "The pressure, the natural tendency was to want to live up to Alex's example, his legacy. I had, like all of the hosts, one day of rehearsal and the following day I shot five episodes of Jeopardy! I came backstage after taping the first episode and I said to Stephanie, 'Well, how did I do?' She said, 'ehhh.' Now, this is a woman who loves me enough to tell me the truth. She said it wasn't me."
This seemed to be the trick for Burton, though. He took the bit of advice and stopped focusing on what was expected, focusing more on himself and what felt right. "You're not going to be smooth as Alex, let go of that. But what you can bring to the table is you. So that became my point of focus," he tells the outlet. "And when it did, I started having fun."
The Star Trek alum says he is an optimistic person at heart and he hopes he has won the spot full time despite his tough competition. He also wants to bring some diversity to the position, putting his name on the milestone as the first person of color to host the popular quiz show. "Look, if I don't get this job, will it be devastating to me? No. I mean, it will hurt, I'll be disappointed. And I'll be fine, because what I know about my life is that which is supposed to be for me comes my way," Burton says.