The Man Who Played Barney For A Decade Talks About The Joy Of Spreading Love Around The World

"Being Barney was never an accident. I was supposed to do this character."


When it comes to career-defining roles, you probably think about critically acclaimed ones that win Oscars or Emmys. One that most definitely won't cross your mind is that of Barney the Dinosaur — but that's exactly what that character was for David Joyner, who played it from 1991 to 2001.

"Being Barney was never an accident," Joyner said in a recent interview with TechInsider (above). "I was supposed to do this character."

Prior to eventually donning the big purple and green suit, Joyner said the plan was always to end up on TV. But, before getting the part, he put his degree in electronic engineering technology to use for six years at Texas Instruments as a software analyst. He then went on to work as a live mannequin. When it came time to audition for Barney & Friends, Joyner — who says there's "psychic energy" and "a lot of clairvoyance" in his family —  basically dreamed it into reality. Though Joyner wasn't the voice of Barney for those years — that job belonged to Bob West — he breathed life into the character through his signature movements and good energy. 

The 53-year-old opened up about what it was like inside of the 70 pound Barney suit, saying it got really hot inside (over 120 degrees sometimes), and had both limited mobility as well as a small field of vision. But to Joyner, Barney was so much more than a suit. He was a manifestation of love, and a way to spread positivity. 

"When I was 19, I started studying Tantra. And a lot of times when people think about Tantra they think it's all about sex," Joyner explained. "Well, Tantra's much more than that. Because Tantra deals with loving energy, life force energy, and energy that rises through your system. Now, it's no accident that I've been spreading 'I love you' all around the world."

Joyner is of course referencing the famous "I Love You" song that was sang at the end of almost every single episode of the show. He said that, with this song, it's as if "we're now gathered together in this beautiful harmonious thing" and that "it's a beautiful thing to know that the song has impacted pretty much this next generation."

After hanging up the iconic Barney suit, Joyner moved to Los Angeles and has gone on to guest star on shows such as General Hospital, ER, and The Young and the Restless — just to name a few. Now, he stars on Hip Hop Harry, which he describes as a "cool, hip-hop rapping, break dancing teddy bear that runs an after-school center called Hip Hop Central. While he's still playing characters, Joyner looks back on his time as Barney fondly.

"Barney was beautiful. Barney was very, very good to me," he said. "I loved being Barney. I loved everything about being Barney. But that chapter is gone."

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