Meet The Man Who Played Beloved Purple Dinosaur ‘Barney’ From 1991-2001

Barney and Friends was a staple TV show for many children of the 1990s, and the man who played the beloved purple dinosaur has finally come forward and unmasked himself. The man behind the mask is 53-year-old David Joyner, and he recently sat down with Business Insider to talk about his days in the purple suit.

Joyner revealed that he knew he was meant to play the beloved children’s character from the very start.

“There’s a lot of psychic energy in my family, and there’s a lot of clairvoyance. And a lot of times, with me, if I’m trying to figure out a situation, I’ll dream about it.

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,” he explained.

Joyner also explained that wearing the Barney costume was no easy feat and wearing the costume required a serious amount of physical fitness and energy. The suit itself weighed 70lbs and at times, inside of the suit could get up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. He did not, however, specify if he had any kind of ventilation system inside of it, but did reveal that he sweated profusely, and often.

He also said that the feet of the costume were huge, but that he had sneakers glued to the bottom of them to make them easier to manage.

“Sometimes, when they took a break, I put a fan in the mouth, I’d sit down on an Apple box, and I’d put my hand on my knees, and I would just close my eyes. So I would literally meditate.

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. Well Tantra’s much more than that. Because Tantra deals with loving energy, life force energy, and energy that rises through your system,” he said.

Joyner reveals that while he was the physical incarnation of the purple dinosaur, he wasn’t the voice of the beloved character. That credit went to Bob West, and Joyner wore headphones to act out what West was saying as he said it.

He also told Business Insider that his residual checks from the show were much bigger than he anticipated and that he was able to buy a house with what he earned. He didn’t, however, talk about meeting the young Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez or what the young stars were like way before they were famous.

Although Joyner has left Barney behind, he still plays a costumed role as Hip Hop Harry, which is a rapping and breakdancing teddy bear.

The TV star told Business Insider that he cherishes his time spent on Barney and that it was a beautiful experience in his life.

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

His Instagram states that he now works as a Tantra massage specialist, spiritual energy healer and reiki practitioner, in addition to his work as an actor.

[Featured Image by Matthew Peyton/Stringer/Getty Images]