Jerry O’Connell may have only been the guest host for The Wendy Williams Show for just a week, but the 44-year-old funnyman made quite the impression. He was full of a lot of energy and even brought out props and impressions. And while some people gave his efforts a big thumbs up, there were some who questioned his selection and those who felt he was “extra.” Particularly during his rendition of Wendy’s popular “Hot Topics” segment focused on celebrity news.
“[It] means hyperactive, I think,” he said in a conversation with PEOPLE on his last day as guest host. “So a lot of people were calling me ‘extra’ in a lot of the comments, but listen, I get pretty passionate about Zayn [Malik] and Gigi [Hadid] breaking up. I’m sorry if my passion becomes a little too intense for some people.”
But as the actor told the magazine, it can be nerve-wrecking trying to entertain people (as in, an entire audience and America) by yourself for 20 minutes. So he gave himself some liquid courage in the form of espressos backstage and went out and did his best.
“It’s really a little scary because it’s you out there for 20 minutes,” he said. “My wife and I talk about these stories every day. The only difference is I’m putting a little makeup on and sitting in a chair on the Wendy set and talking about them.”
Still, the vast majority of people who commented about O’Connell’s efforts on the show’s Instagram said they loved the job he was doing. They weren’t alone.
“My wife loves me on Wendy and you know who really likes me on Wendy? My kids,” he said of his twin girls, Dolly and Rebecca, who are 9. “They like me a lot more on Wendy than they do in person.”
Wendy, who has been resting up and filming music videos in New Jersey, has also been impressed, which has made it all worth it for him.
“I was so excited,” he said. “I would never call her up, and obviously she took a few weeks off to get well, so I didn’t want to bug her with anything. But she called me yesterday and was so encouraging and so fun. I’ve been a fan of hers for so long.”
“I realized this was completely uncharted territory and also Wendy does something that really no other person in daytime has done,” he added. “I mean, she sits up there by herself and for 20 minutes gives us the Hot Topics, and it’s truly remarkable. I’ll tell you after doing four episodes, I don’t know how Wendy does it every day. It’s a testament to how hard-working Wendy is.”
Now that he’s proven he has the energy and sense of humor to lead a talk show, everyone is saying he deserves his own. But he’s just glad he could help his friend out.
“I had fun in this world but for right now, however I can help out Wendy is really my goal.”
As for her, Wendy is set to return to her show on Monday, March 19.