Did you ever have a friend you haven’t seen in years and didn’t know you missed until the two of you went out for a beer together? That’s what it felt like to sit down with Jerry Seinfeld on May 17 in the nifty penthouse of the Carleton Hotel in Cannes. Not only did he dress up like a bee in support of his new animated feature Bee Movie — about a flying, stinging insect who unravels the grand conspiracy behind human honey production — he even sat down with us to chat about it. Good times.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At what point do you start feeling creatively ready to take on something scripted again?
JERRY SEINFELD: It was really this form that did it. I’ve seen these animated movies and it was like when Larry David and I started the show. We both thought, ”I wish sitcoms talked about these things. Why don’t characters talk like this?” I saw these animated movies which I liked, like Toy Story. But to be honest with you, I had never quite heard the kind of comedy that I thought might be fun in an animated film.
How long did it take to shake off the rust from Seinfeld?
I just can’t express where I was at mentally after creating 90 hours of scripted television. That’s 53 some-odd feature-length films in nine years. After that, no movie was going to appeal to me. And I don’t have the ego to say, ”Hey, did you see my movie?” I don’t give a damn about movies. You know, it’s just another gag, right? But this was like a whole technology and a whole new set of parameters, you know? Which were basically no parameters, in animation.
The bee thing had been a joke between me and Mario Joyner for years. Like, ”Did you see that documentary about the bees?” And then we’d start doing the bee characters and imagining them in human context. I kind of really wanted to go for a ’60s Jack Lemmon feel. But, you know, with bees.
So you really just love bees?
I do. I mean, the honey thing. It’s a wonderful, amazing, miraculous thing. You know you can find honey in the tombs in Egypt? This is something special. This is not the same as centipedes. Or cockroaches. Then there’s the hexagon in the hive. I could talk to you about the hexagon forever. And, of course, you have the hilarious stripes and the fact that they’re overweight.
You got Oprah to play a judge in your movie. How the hell did you pull that off?
You know what, she told me she’s been dying to be in one of these movies. But no one asked.
So you just called up Oprah?
I just called up Oprah.
You got a papal blessing, man.
Oh yeah. It is. Well, I thought that the bee trial of the century needed the moderator of the century. And that’s Oprah.