“Dancing With the Stars” judge Bruno Tonioli has opened up at length about leaving “Strictly Come Dancing” after having been a judge on the show for its first 18 seasons. Here is what the colorful dancer and judge had to say about leaving his longtime gig:
Tonioli Said It Was a ‘Mutual Decision’
In a new interview with the Daily Mail, Tonioli said that leaving “Strictly Come Dancing was a “mutual decision” between himself and the show and there is absolutely “no animosity” on either side.
“There is no animosity, it was a mutual decision with both of us saying, ‘Listen, this is not going to work like it used to,'” said Tonioli, referring to how travel has been tumultuous since the start of the pandemic.
He also admitted that it can get tiring to be appearing on both shows simultaneously, between the flying back and forth every week plus being “on” on two separate TV shows.
“I’m playing a character. My accent becomes stronger, the facial expressions and body movements become bigger,” said Tonioli, adding, “You have to pump yourself up and keep it up for two hours. That’s so hard when you have all the added stress of the travel.”
Tonioli Has Nothing But Good Things to Say About Both ‘Strictly’ & His Replacement, Anton Du Beke
Tonioli went on to praise “Strictly Come Dancing, saying that it “changed [his] life.”
“‘Strictly’ changed my life, it was like being born again. I was a successful choreographer, but this was like going back to the beginning as a performer. I loved it,” said Tonioli.
He also praised the “very good job” that Du Beke has done replacing Tonioli because he has made the role “his own,” comparing it to the way the James Bond franchise changes actors and there is no jealousy there.
“You don’t think like that. It’s like James Bond, right? You have Sean Connery and Daniel Craig but they are both still Bond,” said Tonioli.
He said that the conversation about leaving “Strictly” was “very civilized” and that they both just wanted to do what was best for both shows — “Strictly Come Dancing” and its U.S. counterpart “Dancing With the Stars.”
“We looked into whether there was a way of making both shows work for me like before and it was a mutual decision. They said, ‘It really is not feasible.’ And I said, ‘It really is not,” said Tonioli.
He added that he would hate if travel delays caused him to “let someone down.”
“Can you imagine? I’m stuck at Heathrow [airport], they’re waiting for me in America. Let’s say I arrive a day late, the way things are these days, you never know. No production company could take that risk. … You can’t risk one of your players being absent,” said the judge.
Tonioli’s latest comments echo what he told the BBC’s “The One Show” back in May when he admitted that he misses “Strictly Come Dancing” “so much,” but he absolutely supports this decision.
“I think really Anton has done a fantastic job and deserves to be on that seat,” said Tonioli, adding, “Because of the travel situations I cannot really guarantee that I’m going to be there because anything can happen. Two years ago, I changed my tickets every week and they need continuity.”
“Dancing With the Stars” returns for its 31st season this fall on Disney Plus.