I can't lie. I was bummed -- if not 100 percent totally shocked -- to hear the news about Steve Irwin. Yeah, there was the thing with his infant son and the crocodile a few years ago. And he was definitely putting himself in danger every time he went toe-to-toe with whatever latest vicious creature he decided to feature in any of his Animal Planet specials (always with commentary that cheerfully belied the danger at hand: "Here's the spitting cobra -- deadly accurate! What a little beauty!") When he came to San Francisco in 2002 to promote his feature film, Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to him, just to see if he was actually that hyper and energetic and hopped up on animals all the time.
The answer: he was. From my interview (read the whole thing here):
"In person, Steve was startlingly identical to his on-camera persona, which may or may not actually be a persona, considering he was in full-on Croc Hunter mode (wide-eyed and full volume, in trademark khaki shorts ensemble) at nine in the morning at the cold, foggy San Francisco Zoo. Discussing Collision Course, he was a classic close talker, not afraid to grab the interviewer's arm or leg to emphasize a particular point."
What can I say -- he seemed like a genuinely nice person, as did his wife, Terri, who also participated in the interview. Animal Planet (read their official statement on his death here) shows a tribute to Irwin tonight at 6pm.