Seinfeld Brings Comedy to the Hive in 'Bee Movie' Comedian Jerry Seinfeld returns to the screen as a young, idealistic honey bee in his new animated feature, Bee Movie. He talks about bees, comedy, and his transition from live-action filming into the world of 3-D animation.

Seinfeld Brings Comedy to the Hive in 'Bee Movie'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


By now, you might have heard Jerry Seinfeld is back, and he stars in the new animated feature. The movie includes scenes like this one with Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock as two hapless insects stuck to a car windshield just as the wiper blades turn on.


CHRIS ROCK: (Mooseblood the mosquito) Uh-oh(ph).

JERRY SEINFELD: (As Barry B. Benson) What is that?

ROCK: (Mooseblood the mosquito) Oh no, the wiper - triple blades.

SEINFELD: (As Barry B. Benson) Triple blades?

ROCK: (Mooseblood the mosquito) Jump out. It's your only chance, bee. Why does everything has to be so (unintelligible)? How much do you people need to see?

MONTAGNE: Jerry Seinfeld, welcome.

SEINFELD: Thank you. It's nice to be here, Renee.

MONTAGNE: So you play Barry B. Benson.


MONTAGNE: A bee. He's graduated from college, not yet ready to settle for the life of the worker bee in a hive. You know, give us a little taste of Barry's world.

SEINFELD: Well, you know, it's actually a pretty fantastic place. He has a car. He has friends. It's a very vibrant cosmopolitan environment. But the only downside is they only have one industry. And it's the only job opportunities that there are for bees. As we know, they don't really do anything else but make honey.

MONTAGNE: Mm-hmm. And so there's a moment of which though, you know, it's a turning point for the plot.

SEINFELD: There's a moment when he realizes I can't just sign on for this without finding out a little bit more about what's going on in the world.


SEINFELD: I mean if you were told we have a great job for you, but it will be the only job you ever have, you might get a little antsy.


SEINFELD: (As Barry B. Benson) You know, Dad, the more I think about it, maybe the honey field just isn't right for me.

BARRY LEVINSON: (As Martin Benson) And you were thinking of what, making balloon animals? That's a bad job for a guy with a stinger.

SEINFELD: (As Barry B. Benson) Well, no.

LEVINSON: (As Martin Benson) Shut it. Your son is not sure if he wants to go in to honey.

KATHY BATES: (As Janet Benson) Oh, Barry, you are so funny sometimes.

SEINFELD: (As Barry B. Benson) I'm not trying to be funny.

LEVINSON: (As Martin Benson) You're not funny. You're going in to honey. Our son the stirrer.

BATES: (As Janet Benson) You're going to be a stirrer?

MONTAGNE: So nine years - I think it's been nine years since "Seinfeld" ended.

SEINFELD: Right. Yes, May 14, 1998, was the last episode.

MONTAGNE: And you are returning to screen as a bee.

SEINFELD: As a bee, yes. You've done your research well.


MONTAGNE: But why wait eight years and end up as bee?

SEINFELD: Well because, I'll you this, the real answer is nine years of television, 180 episodes, 90 hours of airtime, live action filming - I really just gotten my feel of it. But this was like, you know, a whole new sandbox or different technology and different toys. And, you know, having no restrictions visually or, you know, cinematically. It just was such a new medium to me that it got me excited. And when - you can't do a good work if you're not excited I believe.

MONTAGNE: Now I gathered that you were a quite - well, you paid a lot of attention to the details on this movie.


MONTAGNE: I mean, obsessive, I don't mean that's a negative, but that...

SEINFELD: Maybe I would never take it as a negative.

MONTAGNE: You - yeah, when it came...

SEINFELD: You forgot compulsive.


MONTAGNE: But that you know you were willing and did indeed act out the entire script for the animators?

SEINFELD: And then they would animate it, and then I would I watch it. And I would send them back to do it over and over and over until it was exactly what I thought was the funny facial expression or gesture that was right for the line. I don't know exactly what they do, but I know it takes them forever until they've done it. It's like (unintelligible) same, instead having the eyebrows go down, have them go up. You wait like four days for that.

MONTAGNE: So the bee's face, Barry's face...

SEINFELD: Mm-hmm, yeah.

MONTAGNE: Doesn't have to be exactly your face, although it has to have a quality of your face.

SEINFELD: Yes, it has to have a quality. It took us a long time to get it and, you know, also to figure out what are they going to wear. I like the idea that they are very into fashion, but it's only in the black and yellow palette and no pants.


MONTAGNE: How much of it turned out to be adlibbing?

SEINFELD: That's the one great - another great thing about animation is you can do the scene innumerable times, whereas in film, you're lucky to get two or three takes. You can do 20 takes in animation.

MONTAGNE: Can you remember an example of a moment when you found yourself adlibbing or you found...

SEINFELD: Well the whole scene with Chris. Well, first of all, I had just called him in the night before. And he said what are you doing tomorrow? I said I have to record some stuff for the "Bee Movie," why don't you come down, and we'll make up something. So he came into the studio, and we made up this character of him as a mosquito. And then I just interviewed him as the mosquito. And all of his answers are in the movie. You know, that was a lot of fun.

MONTAGNE: You know, we had been figuring out that - the last time you talked to NPR, as far as we can tell, was 20 years ago.



SEINFELD: That's right.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, and we'd like to play you something that you told Terry Gross 20 years ago.

SEINFELD: All right.

MONTAGNE: (Soundbite of archived Terry Gross' FRESH AIR interview with Jerry Seinfeld on Fresh Air)

SEINFELD: Comedians are people that you go - people come to me, and talk to me they just use my first name or they even won't introduce themselves, they just start talking, and that's how you know your - it's working.

MONTAGNE: So, Jerry.


MONTAGNE: How do you stay in touch now that you're as big as Madonna?


SEINFELD: I go by the bus stop where I used to wait to take the cross-town bus, to go to the Eastside and perform at Catch A Rising Star and The Comic Strip. And so I don't know, I think that helps me in someway just remember that the - it's all the same thing. We're all just - what did Lenny Bruce used to say, we're all just another schmuck.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

SEINFELD: Thank you, Renee, it was a pleasure.

MONTAGNE: Jerry Seinfeld's new animation "Bee Movie" opens Friday. If you can't wait you can see clips at It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.