Warning: This article contains spoilers about the season 7 finale of The Masked Singer.
The Prince has taken his final bow on The Masked Singer stage.
After a series of utterly ribbiting performances, including Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" in the finale, the royal amphibian was sent home as season 7's second runner-up. He was ultimately unmasked to reveal actor and singer Cheyenne Jackson.
Here, the Call Me Kat star and American Horror Story alum opens up to EW about what really surprised him about his time on The Masked Singer, what it was like being in the same group as Rudy Giuliani, whether or not he might pop back up in the AHS universe, and more.
Michael Becker / FOX The Prince performs during the season 7 finale of 'The Masked Singer.'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me about when you found out they wanted you on Masked Singer. Was it an immediate yes for you?
CHEYENNE JACKSON: It was about a 24-hour period of thinking about it, thinking about what it would mean and what that would be like, because I never had even thought — it was never on my radar for me to do something like this. But then I talked to my husband, and I was just thinking, "I'm not primarily known as a singer. This looks really fun, and weird, and scary. And that means I need to do it." So yeah, after 24 hours, I was like, "Okay, man, let's go. I will be your Prince."
And ultimately how was the experience? Was it fun and weird and scary?
It really was. It was all of those things. But there were surprising elements as well. The first thing that comes to mind was how physically difficult it actually is. I wondered as a viewer how much of it is live, you know? I thought, "Are these people actually singing live?" Yes, they are, I can tell you 100 percent we are all singing live and gasping for breath, and trying to maneuver our costumes and trying to stay alive while we're singing. So the physical aspects did surprise me how difficult that was. Another aspect, in terms of my expectations, was I figured it would be fun. I figured it would be crazy and dramatic and silly and all of those things, but I didn't realize really kind of how profound it was. And what I mean is, singing behind a mask, people can't see your face. People can't see your body. They can't put any preconceived notions of who you are on anything. All they have to go by is your voice and your heart. And I found it a really interesting, existential experiment really, like, who are we without our faces and our bodies and everybody's stories of who we are? And I just love that idea of being anonymous and just connecting or trying to connect through a giant, beautiful frog mask and trying to penetrate people's hearts with only that. So I found it to be all the things we talked about, but also a really profound experience, and that's what I wasn't expecting.
It's funny you say that. I once asked Nicole Scherzinger what makes her cry so much on The Masked Singer, and she basically told me exactly what you just said.
Yeah, I love that about her. She's such an open heart. And she seemed to be the one to hone in on me sooner than the others. And she's the only one that guessed who I was, but I love her love of music and her love of singing. That's what pours out of her. And I think that's what is one of the things that makes her such a special person. So yeah, I love to hear that.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Cheyenne Jackson
Speaking of her guessing you, were you surprised by that? Someone else also guessed Matt Bomer, which got a good laugh out of me.
[Laughs] Me too.
I bet. So what was your reaction to all that?
Like we said earlier, I know that people don't know me as a singer first. Maybe that will change once this airs, but I wondered how that would be. I wondered because I'm known as an actor first that I'm not going to be on many people's radar for this. However, I wanted to be guessed, because you want people to have recognized you enough to be like, "Oh, I know that voice or I know that guy." But I didn't want to be guessed too soon, just because then that's the fun of all them guessing and looking at clues, and these judges take it very seriously, which I respect. That was hysterical for the show there's like, you know, every little thing, and Jenny's got a magnifying glass — it's fun. It's fun, and it's joyful. And it provides some levity in a world right now that's really dark. And that is one of the reasons I wanted to do it. Also, because I have 5-year-old twins, and I knew they would think it was hysterical and amazing. And they do.
I bet they loved this costume.
Oh my gosh, I told them what I was doing initially, because they're only five and they're only in preschool. And who are they going to tell anyway? So they called it "Frog." So I would do Call Me Kat and then I would go to The Masked Singer, and they'd say, "Are you going to Frog now?" They didn't quite get it until it started airing. And then they just were like, "That's you? That's you!" And then they love to stand on the couch and scream, "Take it off!"
And tonight they get to watch you do that.
I know. I wonder if my daughter will be sad. Because when I was nominated for a Daytime Emmy this year, my family was on the Zoom. And we all waited, and I didn't win. And she cried.
I know. But you know what? I just tell her, "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And that's the way life is." And to me, making it to the finale is winning, because all I wanted to do was not go home first. Just give me a couple of great songs. The fact that I made it to the finale, my husband was there with me the whole time, and we were just like, "This is nuts."
I know your Call Me Kat costar Leslie Jordan was on the show as a guest panelist earlier this year, and he's also guessed you were on the show before. Assuming he watches the show, has he figured you out yet?
Okay, I know, so here's the thing. So he didn't know I was doing the show, obviously. Only Mayim [Bialik] and two producers on Call Me Kat knew. And because it's the same network, they worked it out where I could do both. But then Leslie was coming to the Call Me Kat set and saying like [imitating Jordan's Southern drawl], "You know, y'all, I am guest judging on Masked Singer." He was so excited. And he's like, "Cheyenne, you need to do this show. I think they would love you." And I wanted to grab him and be like, "I'm doing it right now!" I had to keep that a secret. That's the fun part of the show. I was talking to somebody earlier about this. Like, there are not a lot of things that are actually secret anymore. And I love that The Masked Singer keeps the secret. I literally did not know any other person for sure until they were unmasked on TV. And I was listening. And I was trying to get information. I tried to get information out of my costume designer or my vocal coach, and they were just like, locked down, which is cool. That's the special sauce of the show, I think.
You had the distinct pleasure of being part of quite a group of singers! You had Kirstie Alley, Shaggy, En Vogue, and of course, Rudy Giuliani. What did you make of that whole thing?
I mean, it's so secret backstage that I'm telling you, you literally have no clue who anybody is. And so there was one group shot — I think maybe one or two times when all five of us were in the same room. We were all in one, big Steadicam shot where they went from like the Mammoth and down the line, and I was just racking my brain like, who are these people? And I remember seeing the Jack in the Box, which ended up being Rudy Giuliani. The person was so… had such a presence in terms of like, I thought it was just a comedian. And the way they were moving their arms was very specific. And I literally had no clue. They keep us so isolated that I honestly had no idea. I didn't know about any of that controversy until everybody else did. So yeah. You know, the show's an element of surprise, and it was definitely a surprise.
Speaking of an American Horror Story, can we expect to see you on an upcoming season?
Listen, I loved my time on there. I love the relationships I made. And the world that Ryan [Murphy] creates is just like nothing else ever. And the friendships that I've made are lifelong. Lily Rabe is one of my best friends and Sarah [Paulson], and so many people. Yeah... I spoke to somebody on the team not too long ago. They were saying, "We need you to come play again." And I always leave the door open. Because even if it's just for an episode or two, that's what I love about that world. So yeah, I'm definitely not opposed. If there's a great, great arc or some great character they want to write me, send it over.
And your current show, Call Me Kat, was just renewed for a third season. What direction do you hope the show goes in in the new episodes?
Well, we really got in the groove in the second season. Shows take a minute to really find their legs, and a situation comedy shot with no studio audience during a pandemic really had the cards stacked against us, I think. But we persevered. And I think it's because the six of us are so different. But I really love the idea of these six people that are, in my estimation — this is my own story about it, but it's kind of what I love — is that they're all lost. They're all very lonely in their own way. And they have found each other and this like weird family they've created. And the six of us have in real life bonded so tightly because of the situation of shooting the show in a pandemic. The second season, we really, about halfway through, I felt like we just hit our stride and it really kind of showed in the viewership and in the fandom. And to get a third season is such a great vote of confidence. I think what's going to happen now is they're just going to deepen these relationships, the writing is going to get even tighter.
What I hope happens, is that we get to see Kat go through all kinds of messy life stuff and have her pick herself up, her friends pick her up. What I hope for Max is, you know, he was really kind of a mess last year. We found out that his finances were a mess. He was living in the basement and didn't have a penny to his name. He is a 41-year-old bartender and he doesn't know what to do with his life. Now that he's zeroing in on following his passion of songwriting, it's just interesting. I hope he settles into his game a little bit more. Maybe finds some love. I think it's really fun to be able to live in a character and help create it from the start. I've never done that before. I had American Horror Story but it's always one season. So to have a few different seasons to create something, what a gift. And it shoots nine minutes from my house and because of the schedule, I only maybe missed three bedtimes last year. So I'm just so grateful. So grateful.
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