"The melting ice head had a climate change vibe," the Emmy-winner tells EW about why the costume was a perfect fit.

By Lauren Huff
January 07, 2021 at 10:16 AM EST
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Credit: Michael Becker/ FOX

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Masked Dancer.

The Ice Cube has melted off The Masked Dancer stage.

The blinged-out chill guy was the first to leave from the newly introduced Group B contestants, and under the mask was none other than Emmy-winning television host, author, and engineer Bill Nye. The ultimate science guy, who has also graced the Dancing With the Stars stage, explains why he loves dancing competition shows and what's next for him.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your costume had several references to your identity. What did you love about it?
BILL NYE:
I thought it was cool... literally. [It was] representing something cool. And for me, the melting ice head had a climate change vibe. The coat or whatever you'd call it, the jacket, was reminiscent of a lab coat. Then they blinged it up the way I do with all my clothes. [Laughs] I'm just kidding. It's playful. It's a giant ice cube head!

You have a background in swing dancing. Did that inform your performance?
Yeah, there were two moments that were right out of swing. But it was very fast.

Was it your idea to include that?
No, they knew all about it. They knew it inside out. And there's a cha cha moment that's right out of ballroom dancing that I've done quite a bit. But as I say, the song was fast, and you know I'm of a certain age. [Laughs]

You also did Dancing With the Stars. Why get back into dancing competitions?
Oh, I mean, come on! It's so cool. Dancing is a blast. What else would you want to do? As soon as I [heard about the opportunity] — and this is not a pun — I jumped at the chance.

How did the two experiences compare?
Well, Dancing With the Stars, there's this pressure to win and do well, but The Masked Dancer is just kind of a little more laid back. It's a lot less under your control. You show up and do your best. But in both cases, you work with these extraordinary athletes. I mean, these people, my partner and the other instructors, the other dancers that would come into the rehearsal room and help — they're just amazing. They're amazing athletes and they're excellent teachers or educators, and they are artists. That's really the coolest part of it for me, is working with those just extraordinary dancers.

You also can't see as well with an ice cube head on. And during the whole thing, everybody was very disciplined about COVID. Everybody wore a mask. There was hand sanitizer every three feet in the hallway, the room, the thing, the door, the desk. And when you're dancing traditionally, you can see your partner's face. In this case, you couldn't, we wore masks all the time. So that was a little odd part of the challenge, as well.

Credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Were you surprised when [panelist] Ken Jeong guessed your identity?
I wasn't surprised, but he did it in the first five seconds! So I had to play it cool — shrugging the shoulders, could be, maybe, maybe I'm Anderson Cooper. So looking back, I think he just went right to it. I mean, he figured it out. Everybody has to keep in mind, he has a role. What he does is not that easy. You've got to have people that get it wrong, or it's no fun for the viewer. So I'm not trying to give you too much inside information, but I just think as a television professional, and as a guy who has worked on a game show, he has a role that's not that easy. But when he was let loose on this show, he just guessed it.

Yeah he got it right out of the gate.
I think I was the first — although I'm in the second week — I think I was the very first dancer to be unmasked in the production schedule. I'm not entirely sure, but I think they were still figuring it out when I was on the show. It was like Group A or Group B, and it kept changing. So yeah, he guessed it [really fast]. Way to go, man.

You recently starred in the potential Oscar contender, Mank. What's next for you?
Well, what am I gonna wear? [Laughs] That was a cool opportunity. No, I don't have plans to make a cameo appearance in another movie yet. We'll see what happens. You're always working on a show. I just finished another book, which I'm very proud of, Great Big World of Science. It's just the most produced book I've ever worked on. By that I mean, beautiful color pictures. The format is large. There's something in it for people of all ages. I'm very proud of that. I am going to keep doing the podcast, Science Rules! And I'm pretty sure we're gonna get renewed for the other thing we do called Science Rules: Coronavirus Edition. And we are always looking for another TV opportunity.

What would Bill Nye the Science Guy say about what makes The Masked Dancer work?
Well, it's all physics. As we say, everything happens for a reason and that reason is usually physics. So to us, to me, dancing is all control of motion. It's forces and reactions by reactions — a bridge reacts to the weight of a car, is the engineering expression. So it's all spins and forces and torques, and conservation of momentum, and conservation of angular momentum, which is the momentum of a spin. And so it's all this elegant, wonderful physics. And of course, it is art. It brings out your emotions and affects the way you feel. It's science and art, what's not to love about that? And dancing is a conversation without words.

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