Meet the man who played Barney - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Meet the man who played Barney

(WWBT) -

We all know Barney as the beloved purple dinosaur, but most of us do not know the man underneath it all.

David Joyner played Barney for 10 years, from 1991 to 2001 and says he "loved being Barney."

Business Insider caught up with the actor, who revealed "what it was like being one of the most famous children's characters of all time," and how Joyner felt he was destined to be Barney.

Well the night before the audition, I had this dream. And in this dream, Barney passes out. And I have to give Barney mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. So on the way to the audition, I'm sitting at a stoplight, and something says "Look up." So I look up, and there's this billboard. It says "Breathe life into your vacation — Southwest Airlines." And then it hits me. I had to breathe life into Barney in my dream. If I go into this audition and breathe life into this character, I'm going on vacation. And that's exactly what I did.

So, of course, they called me and asked if I would be Barney. And I said, "Of course." I pretty much already knew that I was going to be Barney. But it was great getting that phone call.

Joyner says being in the costume is "pretty cool," but he also gave us some facts on what the costume entailed:

  • Barney's costume is 70 pounds, and it can get up to 120 degrees inside the costume.
  • Barney's feet were huge, so he had sneakers glued inside the feet.
  • Barney's head doesn't come off or swivel, so Joyner could only see a certain amount due to the peripheral of Barney's mouth.
  • There are no facial expressions that can be made. "So what I would literally do is I would walk around my apartment as if I was blind. I would close my eyes, and I would try to feel energy. And try to feel the energy of anything that was around me. And then try to pick things up."
  • Barney's voice was provided by a man named Bob West. Joyner would do something called a "dinosync" with West's voice. "As I have my headphones on, I can literally hear him taking his breath. And knowing that as he's about to speak, I'm almost inside of him, knowing exactly what he's about to say."

Since Barney, Joyner has been keeping himself busy, including moving to Los Angeles and guest starring in numerous shows, such as "Shameless," "That '70s Show," "ER," and "24."

Here's what he is up to now:

So "Hip Hop Harry" is what I'm doing now. "Hip Hop Harry" is a cool, hip-hop rapping, break dancing teddy bear that runs an after-school center called Hip Hop Central.

And our ratings are starting to grow. I'm 53 years old. And I am not ashamed to admit that I am 53 years old, still playing in costumes.

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