Something I was really struck by in Bee Movie — the character you play isn’t “Seinfeld.”
It started out that the character was really similar to the character I was playing on the show. One of the things that’s great about animation is you get to watch the movie very early in the process. It’s in a crude form. But you can watch it. They storyboard it all out in pencil sketches and they film it and they add music and sound effects and you can sit there and watch the movie. And as I watched it, I saw that it needed to move away from that, it needed to be a little more innocent, a little gentler as a character. It just seemed to work better that way.
Do you see yourself turning into an actor?
Not really. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but I don’t consider it a direction for me. It’s a sideline. It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun. So many people do it with such great craft and devotion, and I’ll never be one of those people. Light comedy is as far as I think I’ll go. But, you know, that’s a craft that not everyone can do. I really see writing and performing as my profession. That’s what I feel like I’m supposed to do.
What was it like working on the film with three other writers?
In the beginning we collaborated on the script, and then I did a lot of writing myself, and then in the end we got together again. We had different sessions and different writing times. These things go through many, many versions till the finished product, till you finally figure it all out. It was always like that on the show. But in the end, you have to have one person who says what’s in or what’s out. And that was me. But I do like to collaborate with other writers. It’s fun to sit in a room and just throw lines or ideas around.
What was the most fun about doing bee movie? And what was hardest?
The hardest thing was learning the animation technology, which I had to become very well versed in.
Well, I mean, if you’re going to make a pot, you have to learn about clay. So I had to learn the language of animation, the layout, how it’s made. How late can I change this? When is it set in stone and when is it still malleable? There really wasn’t one job that I didn’t do. I did wardrobe, I did props, I was at every recording session with every actor. Every line that was written, I either wrote it or wrote it with someone else. So it was just all the things I learned to do on the show. It was like: be involved in everything. That just seems to give the piece more personality. And that’s what I think I’m proudest of. The movie has its own distinct personality.
How do you see Bee Movie after the success of Antz?
I don’t really think about that kind of thing. It’s like, how can you go on stage when so many other comedians have already done it? This was a new world. A beehive.