Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died tragically young, leaving his family, the Australian public, and the many diehard fans of his Tonight Show appearances devastated. There was no question what that the Irwin legacy would live on, but it was unclear what that would look like. Last night, The Tonight Show audience found out and, as it turns out, the legacy looks, well, a lot like Steve Irwin. Robert Irwin, the famed naturalist 13-year-old son, is picking up where his father left off. Not only is he embracing a similarly khaki wardrobe, he’s already frightening talk show host — in this case, Jimmy Fallon, who was eager but slightly hesitant to meet some juvenile bears. last night, and he brought along a few of his wild friends — including two adorable baby black bears.
It was the younger Irwin’s second late night appearance, but the first that felt fully realized: An introduction to a new standard bearer. And it’s clear that the Irwin family isn’t going to drop their green flag. Robert’s sister Bindi won Dancing with the Stars in 2015 and has done voice work for Curious George.
Though he’s already killing it with his late night appearances, Robert has a long way to go to catch up with dad. Steve was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno 17 times and Late Night with Conan O’Brien seven times. His memorable appearances on those shows helped him bring his distinctive brand of breathless, nature-loving goofiness to America and become an international star. He seemed like both a caricature of an Australia in the Crocodile Dundee mode and a weird, lovely individual. And that’s what he was. The whole thing was genuine.
And it seems to be for young Robert as well. The kid clearly loves animals.
Robert definitely looks like Steve, but their on-camera personas are a bit different. Steve was charming, but wild and unpredictable Robert is more mild and also more straightforward in his communication of his enthusiasm. He’s following in his father’s footsteps, but filling out his own shoes. For that reason, he’ll likely become a mainstay of late night television.