"Pee-wee's Big Holiday" - 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival His name may sound diminutive, but everything about Pee-wee Herman is big, big, big.

Beginning with 1985's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," the debut film for the one-of-a-kind character first created on stage in the early '80s by actor/writer/comedian Paul Reubens, there's always been something outrageously outsized about the antics of the gray-suited, red-bowtied man-child.

And now he's as big as ever, returning to the spotlight for the first time in 25 years since his last major appearance onscreen for a new Netflix film "Pee-wee's Big Holiday," produced by comedy impresario Judd Apatow. Taking a step out of character, Reubens joined Moviefone to discuss why Pee-Wee's return is indeed something to celebrate.

Moviefone: Why was now the right time to bring back Pee-Wee?

Paul Reubens: Well, really, the time to bring back Pee-wee was 10 years ago, when I originally started doing it, but it didn't work out that way. So why not now?.

What was the joy of reviving the character for you?

At SXSW, 1,200 people laughed their asses off at it. I didn't pay anybody! I didn't even know anyone in the audience. So it was incredible. I don't know. I don't know the answer. I just feel like it was super fun to do it, and I'm super excited about it. The fact that if people like it and young people see it for the first time might go back and watch something else, it's enormously satisfying.

Did you have to do any sort of reevaluating of the character to figure out how to present him today?

I never think like that. I always just do what I want to do and hope people like the same thing I like.

How did Judd Apatow help you bring this to fruition and contribute creatively to what you wanted to do?

In terms of bringing it to fruition, it wouldn't have happened without Judd. Having Judd involved in it really perks people up. The buyers, the people who are in position to bankroll a movie, love Judd Apatow. Why wouldn't they?

Judd was just responsible for so many aspects of it. I mean, just shaping the way we developed it. He put me with Paul Rust, and he did not want to make the other two scripts I had floating around. He wanted to make a new movie. He wanted to make a road picture that evoked "Big Adventure," kind of in the same wheelhouse. Those are all big contributions.

What's the experience like when you get professionally involved with someone like Judd, who clearly had a special place in his heart for you and the character growing up?

It means the world to me. It's extraordinary. I pinch myself all the time and wonder if it's real still. It's like being in a "Twilight Zone" episode sometimes. I can't really believe it. I certainly don't depend on it or anything, but it's just enormously flattering.

I took my work extremely seriously and strive to be artistic and be an artist. To have some of that work hold up and have it influence people and have people come up to me and say I'm an artist because of watching your kid show when I was a kid, that kind of stuff. It's staggering.

I spoke your costar and friend Joe Maganiello, who is another one of those fans who's gotten to be a friend and champion of yours. Tell me about creating that bond with Joe before you ever even got involved in this project together.

Joe and I met almost like in the movie. I mean, Joe and I kind of met each other and just looked at each other and went like, we're going to be friends. I mean, some of that stuff is just hard to put your finger on exactly, like how that works or what's going on.

I'm real lucky in that respect in that I kind of wind up knowing I'm going to be friends with people a lot of times. Joe and I met at a party where we just looked at each other from across the room, practically, and we're like, "Oh -- you." You know?

With the passage of time, was there anything challenging about playing Pee-Wee at this point in time? Or was it just like slipping on that suit and the bow tie and going to town?

I think it was somewhere in the middle there, into the little grey area there, what you're talking about. I think it was all fine and dandy, but there would certainly be a few moments every single day when I would be, "Wow, am I too old to be doing this today?" But mostly, it was fine.

Can you tell me about your memories of those earliest days as the Pee-wee character was kind of coming together for you?

I think fairly often of the first time I went out in the world as Pee-wee Herman, and felt, like, power. I felt like this weird Pee-wee power. I went on a cattle call for "Dating Game" contestants. I put on my Pee-wee suit and I went out and got in my car and I drove to a location in Hollywood and walked in an office with probably 100 guys who were all kind of typical "Dating Game" contestants.

I could just tell when I walked in that the people running it were like trying to contain themselves and not show me that they were freaking out and that I was going to definitely be on the show the second they saw me. I stayed in character the whole time. I never let on that I was an actor. I filled out my form. Pee-wee Herman, your hobby: cleaning my room. It was just really fun, and I could tell every single person there thought I was a real person, and was treating me in this funny way. I just felt enormous power. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I felt like of all the auditions that I went on on a daily basis and people would just reject you the second you walked in the room. I could tell it was just the opposite with this. I knew. I felt this really strong gut feeling I was going to get home and have a message that I would get on the show. And sure enough, I got home. By the time I got home, I already had the message: "Call us at this number about being a contestant."

How many times a week does somebody come up and talk to you about their childhood and what Pee-wee meant to them?

Oh, pretty often!

How does all that hit you when it's happening?

I just never can believe it's really true. But it's extremely moving and wonderful. What a great problem to have.