Super Bowl Halftime Show Producer Jesse Collins Explains Why Rihanna Wanted to Perform Alone (Exclusive)

Super Bowl producer Jesse Collins shares some behind-the-scenes insights with ET.

Rihanna turned the world upside down when she took the stage for her highly anticipated Super Bowl LVII halftime performance on Sunday night and revealed that she and her partner, A$AP Rocky, are expecting baby no. 2. Unsurprisingly, a lot went on behind the scenes to execute the visually stunning performance, which included floating stages despite the singer's intense fear of heights.

Super Bowl halftime show producer Jesse Collins told ET's Kevin Frazier that his team focused on ensuring Rihanna's performance went off without a hitch.

"She's scared of heights but she got it together for this and I have to give the credit to her creative director, Willo Perron," Collins shared. "He came up with that idea along with our choreographer Parris (Goebel) and it was just unbelievable."

Collins explained that the floating stages came into play because there were concerns about how much weight could be put on the State Farm Stadium field -- which reportedly caused grief for the players during Sunday night's game. Players from both teams had difficulty keeping their footing, leading several to change their cleats. Collins described the field as a "sponge" that would have made bearing the weight of the stages and dancers impossible.

"We were like, 'You can only do this much on the field,' and they were like, 'Well, we'll just put it all in the air,'" Collins recalled. 

Joking that he had been terrified after being lifted 10 feet into the air, Collins shared that despite any fear, Rihanna had felt more comfortable "all the way up at the top. She loved it at the top."

The biggest surprise for viewers -- aside from Rihanna's surprise baby bump, making her the first-ever pregnant woman to headline the halftime show -- was that she performed her 13-minute medley with no guests appearances, even though collaborators, JAY-Z, DJ Khaled, and her boyfriend, A$AP Rocky, were in the stadium watching the show. 

"I think it was just her wanting to make the statement that she could carry this thing and she did," Collins opined. "People just want to see her and so she had to give em a show and she did. We haven't seen her dance like that in a long time and I thought it was just spectacular."

Collins shared that the performance's set list was constantly changing, with Rihanna's final choice being "version 39."

"She has a massive catalog [and] not a lot of time," he pointed out. "She wasn't gonna be ready until it was absolutely perfect."

It was the first time that the show had a performer "primarily in the air for 40 percent" of the show, Collins noted, and everything about the performance was kept under such intrigue that some of the crew were still taking bets on what the first song would be the day of. 

"We had to rehearse way out in the sticks of [Los Angeles] and Santa Clarita to keep it all secretive," he added. "It was a lot of work. And then, how do you keep the secret that she's pregnant? I mean that's hard too... Honestly, as soon as it [was] done I'm like, 'Woo, let's get her back down.' That's all I want to do is get her back on the ground... It was a lot of prep, a lot of nerves and [I'm] just really happy to be a part of it."



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