A MUPPETS MOST WANTED Set Visit and Interview
by Dan Casey on January 8, 2014
The Muppets have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first album I ever purchased with my own money was the soundtrack to The Muppet Christmas Carol on cassette tape, which I proceeded to rock year-round until on one tragic day, the tape unspooled and it was lost to the sands of time that is my junk drawer. One time, to go home sick from school, I told the nurse that I had cabin fever, primarily because of how fun they made it seem on Muppet Treasure Island. But then, after 1999′s Muppets From Space, save for the occasional TV movie or one-off appearance, the Muppets up and vanished until Jason Segel helped breathe new life into my favorite felt friends in 2011′s The Muppets. All was right with the world.
Now that you understand a little bit of my relationship with the Muppets, you can imagine the childlike excitement and wonder when I received an invitation to visit the set of the forthcoming sequel, Muppets Most Wanted. Were they shooting on a glamorous soundstage in sunny California? Would I be traveling to London’s Pinewood and taking in the crisp, foggy air? Not quite. My day with the Muppets would take place at Los Angeles’ Union Station, the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States but not a place I particularly wanted to spend my day. And the weather? Well, if you guessed “unseasonable, torrential downpour,” then pass GO and collect $200. Considering the bone-chilling temperatures in much of the US induced by the current polar vortex, it’s a drop in the bucket, but this was back in May of 2013 in Los Angeles, where sunshine is the number 2 export after carbon emissions and flavorful burritos (tied). Nevertheless, I arrived at Union Station that morning with a smile on my face and water in my shoes.
Originally titled The Muppets … Again, Muppets Most Wanted is a rollicking adventure film that takes the entire Muppets gang on a globetrotting world tour to exotic European locales like Berlin, Madrid, and London. Unfortunately for our heroes, trouble follows and they become embroiled in an international criminal manhunt for Constantine, the “World’s Number One Criminal” and Kermit’s doppelgänger, and the devious right-hand man Dominic (Ricky Gervais). In addition, the star-studded cast also includes Tina Fey as a saucy Russian prison guard named Nadya and Ty Burrell as a mustachioed Frenchman and agent of Interpol, Jean Pierre Napoleon. In other words, it sounds like The Great Muppet Caper in all the right ways. Plus “two really good explosions,” according to producer Todd Lieberman.
Unlike previous Muppet outings, Muppets Most Wanted is something of a direct sequel to 2011′s The Muppets. Much of the creative team behind the 2011 film is returning for round two, including producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, and director James Bobin, who also co-wrote the film with The Muppets co-writer Nicholas Stoller. Also returning for another go-round is Oscar-winning musician Bret McKenzie, who won an Academy Award for his work on the first film.
Nowhere to be seen, however, are Jason Segel and Amy Adams, which raises questions about the film, namely, what happened to their characters? We asked Ms. Piggy about it, but she simply remarked, “We’ll just see if it was in somebody’s contract that she was not allowed back in the sequel to the successful first film that was so successful because of me.” Some mysteries are better left until opening day, though, so for now we’ll assume they’re chilling with Jimmy Hoffa in the green room.
So, where were we? That’s right, on a chilly train platform in downtown Los Angeles. Nearly the entire Muppets ensemble was on-hand to film the scene, in which the Muppets are boarding a train to take on their big adventure to Europe. A giant jet-black, old-timey locomotive lets loose a mechanical roar as steam pours out — by all accounts, it’s an impressive way to ride the rails. Except this isn’t the Muppets’ train. The luxury train pulls out of the station to reveal a janky, jury-rigged jalopy, a comically small train that pales in comparison to what just pulled away. Naturally, the Muppets are deflated, so it’s up to Kermit to rally the troops with a rousing speech.
Watching the puppeteers in action (Muppeteers?) was a thing of beauty. These dynamic, talented performers crouched down low or laid on the ground like they were posing for a calendar spread and kept their eyes peeled on the monitors so they knew where their characters were in relation to the camera. It’s a highly technical, daunting process, but they are experts at their craft, and director James Bobin was able to offer quick, concise adjustments to the performers. Having worked together previously, there’s a definite shorthand between the actors and the director, which I imagine makes life a lot easier, particularly when you’re trying to wrangle an ensemble of whip-smart, highly improvisational characters.
In addition to spending the day on set watching the Muppets make movie magic, we were also able to interview producer Todd Lieberman, Kermit the Frog, Ms. Piggy, and Walter, which you can read in all of their glory below.
Q: What did you want to cover in this movie that you didn’t in the last one?
Todd Lieberman: Last time we wanted to start with kind of an emotional story and introduce a new character and introduce the Muppets to a generation that maybe weren’t as familiar with them as I was or James [Bobin] was or my partner David. That movie hopefully set that starting as a basis, so now we just want to have a boatload of fun. So, I think in this movie, we’re leaning a bit more on mayhem and a fun caper aspect of what the Muppets can offer – and I think there’s an emotional story there too – but I think people will be really excited about some of the craziness that goes on.
Q: Ricky Gervais seems like an odd choice for a Muppet movie because he has such a cynical personality, versus the Muppets, who are sort of anti-cynical. What can we expect to see from that dynamic?
TL: Complete cynicism. [laughs] No, Ricky is probably one of the biggest Muppet fans in the world. He was so unbelievably happy to be a part of it. He’s obviously extremely funny, extremely smart, so putting someone like him into the world of the Muppets, I think, will turn out really well, because he sort of balances them out. But, I think, in a way, he comes across Muppet-like in this movie, so I think people will be really happy with it.
Q: The old Muppet movies were pretty standalone stories. Will this one have any sort of references to the last one apart from Walter being there? Will they mention Gary and Mary at all?
TL: This movie starts where the other movie left off. Even though it goes off in an entirely different direction from where the other movie goes, there’s a connection.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about getting the script to a place where you were like, “We can make this”?
TL: Thank goodness for James Bobin and Nick Stoller. Those guys came up with an idea and, three months later, a draft that we knew we could move forward with. We knew from the very beginning once the first draft was delivered that this was something we could shoot.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the music?
TL: Bret McKenzie. Oscar winner Bret McKenzie is back. The first movie showcased a lot of the talents of Bret and what he can do in different genres. This movie will do the exact same thing in different ways. We’ve got pieces that span from a ballad to just an unbelievably fun old school musical-style romp, so he’s showcasing all different kinds of music in this too.
Q: We know that Tina Fey and Ty Burrell are going to be in the film. Are we going to see any other celebrity cameos?
TL: Yes… [laughs] Part of the fun of what the cameos are – and, look, a lot of them have been reported, some have been rumored – I think part of the fun is that you don’t know they’re coming, then they show up on screen and you’re like, “Oh that person!” Thankfully, we have the Muppets, and a lot of people want to work with the Muppets. We have an enormous array of interesting people.
Q: Did you have to turn down any?
TL: No, there certainly were a lot of people who wanted to be in the movie. You can’t just throw a cameo in the movie. It has to be specific to a joke, a scene, or an emotional moment. We filled it with some pretty amazing people, from Oscar winners to Grammy winners to really recognizable actors. I think it’s going to be an insane spread of some very talented people.
Q: Did you have to turn down any Muppets?
TL: [laughs] No, they’re pretty persistent, those Muppets. They will not be turned down.
Q: Will we see any Muppets that weren’t in the last one?
TL: That’s a good question. There will be a couple, actually, that you didn’t see last movie, yes. Last movie had almost all of them, I do think we introduce one or two that weren’t in the last movie.
Q: What was it like being in Europe and having that European backdrop for this film?
TL: When the idea was pitched that it was going to be a kind of European adventure, we obviously wanted to shoot there and we were lucky enough to be able to utilize that background architecture and these cities like London. I think we take advantage of it in some cool ways. The Muppets against the backdrop of the Tower Bridge looks pretty damn cool, so I think it’s going to be big in scope.
Q: Can you talk at all about Kermit playing a dual role or is that “special”?
TL: Well, Kermit doesn’t play a dual role; there’s a doppelgänger named Constantine that looks a little like Kermit, but it is actually played by two separate performers.
Q: With filming in all of these different locations, which one was the most challenging?
TL: That’s a good question. I referenced just before the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. That was just a phenomenal experience. So, we’re in London – obviously the weather is a little gloomier than this with a little raindrops – and there were four days where we needed sunshine, but we got every single day that we needed sun in London. Two of those days were at the Tower of London, and this is, I’m told, a location that hasn’t ever allowed a major film crew inside the walls to shoot. So, shooting inside the Tower of London with the Muppets while tourists go by saying, “What is going on?” was beyond. It was really, really special.
Q: What was your favorite landmark you shot at?
TL: Union Station. Very famous L.A. landmark. We took advantage a lot of London. We shot a lot of the movie, most of the movie at Pinewood, and as a film person I consider that to be a pretty significant landmark, but we shot in and around the city a lot. There’s definitely some recognizable areas and we haven’t done our second unit stuff yet, so there will be more recognizable areas from other cities. But, we definitely took advantage of London.
Q: How does the shooting schedule compare to the first one?
T: It’s pretty similar. In terms of days, maybe we’re a few days longer, but it’s pretty comparable.
Q: What day are we on now?
TL: Right now? God… what day are we on? I want to say like sixty-three? I don’t know; I have to look at the call sheet.
Q: When you have a world where nothing is out of the ordinary, where anything goes, does that make your job as a producer more difficult? Any dream that anyone has can happen.
TL: The fun part with the Muppets is that you can break the fourth wall and do self-referential jokes. We do a lot of that, and there’s a certain amount of freedom I guess that allows a filmmaker to do and enjoy that. I mean, the technical aspects of making a Muppet movie are very challenging – we learned that with the first one. You have an exterior location like this that isn’t built three-and-a-half feet off the ground, so you have to have people lying on the ground and stuff them into small spaces. So, shooting the Muppets is definitely challenging, but I guess their whole idea is fun and mayhem and thinking of all types of crazy things to do with them is definitely part of the allure of doing it. I think we do it.
Q: Do we get any new takes on classic musical numbers?
TL: Yes, yes, we do. There’s something that we’re doing – we have a plan for it. I can’t say much more than that. We have an idea for a song that is a classic Muppets song that we want to incorporate somehow into the movie.
Q: I know there’s going to be a wedding…
TL: Who told you that?
Q: I have my ways. How soon will that storyline come into play in the movie? Is it plotted around or is it more of a spur of the moment type decision?
TL: Let’s see. I will say that there is a wedding that takes place and you know who – I’m not going to say who it’s with – but the idea of a wedding certainly is part of the emotional core of the story.
Q: Why this film to have this wedding? Why now?
T: God… why now? I don’t know. [laughs] I’m not even sure you think you know who it’s with, so it’s hard to answer that question.
Q: A technical question, but the scene we were watching with Kermit and the train, why did you have to have a train with CGI on it?
TL: We’re shooting a reveal. So, this is where they leave Los Angeles, and Kermit’s presenting the amazing train they’re going to go on, and it turns out that’s not actually the train they’re going on. There’s another train that’s not as amazing. It was a little difficult because of timing and the way it pulls out. It’s a visual effects thing.
Q: You mentioned the second unit and you mentioned a lot of mayhem coming, so what size explosions can we expect?
TL: [laughs] We’ve got two really good explosions in this movie. The size has yet to be determined because they’ll probably be digitally enhanced.
Q: Is Jason Segel involved in this?
TL: No, Jason is not. He was a big part of the success of the first movie and he’s doing lots of other amazing things now.
Q: Was there any debate over trying to do a similar release date for the first film?
TL: That’s more of a studio question, but we really love the idea that in and around spring break, kids and families are out of school, which is a big part of what that March date is. Last time, we were Thanksgiving, and I guess that offers a few days of kids out of school, so hopefully this offers more days of kids out of school.
KERMIT THE FROG
Kermit: Oh my goodness. Wow. Hi guys. I’m sorry I can’t quite look at you guys, but I can answer you anyway. My neck doesn’t turn that way.
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about the fact that we’re on the set of the sequel.
Kermit: We are on the set of the sequel, but you already said that. We are, well here we are, at Union Station. This is the second half of a scene that we shot, the other half in England. And it’s great to be doing a kind of a sequel. Of course, it’s hard to call it a sequel since we’ve done like 9 films over the years, but it’s kind of a sequel to the last one so, having a great time, you know.
Q: What’s different about this Muppet film compared to the ones from before?
Kermit: Well, you know, there are many differences. One particular one, if I may, may I talk about my own role?
Kermit: I am once again returning as Kermit the Frog, a part that I was born to play. And what’s cool about it though this time is that I actually, at the end of the film, I am sort of like an action hero. You will see me do things you haven’t seen me do before. Quite seriously, I am kind of like a cross between James Bond and oh, something Bruce Willis would do.
Q: Did you have to train for that?
Kermit: Well, a little bit, a little bit. I had to train to be more serious. It’s a whole different kind of acting when you’re playing those kind of, you know, action hero roles, like hanging on the bottom of helicopters and fun stuff like that.
Q: When, this movie you have, the villain is Constantine, he looks exactly like you, did you ever consider playing a dual role and playing both parts?
Kermit: We talked about it, we talked about it but I have to admit that I am not great at doing the accent that Constantine has. Constantine kind of has a European, Russian sort of accent and, by the way, Constantine is just one of my cousins from the swamp, so he just happens to have the right facial features for the role.
Q: Now will you talk about working with Tina Fey, because I understand she gets kind of the hots for Kermit.
Kermit: Well, yes, yes. I don’t want to embarrass Tina, I love her and we had a great time together. I think that’s only on camera. I mean she’s a married woman. Besides, Miss Piggy might read this and you never know what could happen, so….
Q: Speaking of Miss Piggy-
Q: I hear it’s heating up a bit between the two of you in this movie, is that-?
Kermit: Heating up? Well, I don’t want to give the whole story away. You know, there is a lot of heat when Miss Piggy and I are on screen. Yeah, I’m not going to tell you too much about that because it turns out that it is kind of a mistake that happens in the movie, a little bit of a tomfoolery, I will say.
Q: Besides (that), can you talk about working with Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais, (and) Ty Burrell?
Kermit: Well, I can, I can. Ricky is wonderful and I think he will probably become an honorary Muppet, he’s kind of our size and very funny and great playing opposite all us guys, we tend to be very broad actors. Ricky is very economical in his comedy. Tina was fantastic, I can’t imagine anybody else having played the role of sort of the mistress of a gulag. As Tina put it, her character Nadia loves prison, so it’s a little strange. She does a number that very much reminds me of the Rocky Horror picture show. And Ty, Ty is wonderful. Ty is sort of, he’s insane actually, he’s very conservatively insane. So we love him, I mean we loved working with all those guys, and all the other guys who worked with us as well.
Q: What has been your favorite location?
Kermit: Upper Heyford. Yes, yes. Upper Heyford. It was 10 below zero in the wind chill and we were outside all night and I am a semi-naked frog. So yeah, it was quite an experience, like the polar plunge.
Q: You mentioned your cousin as the swamp king cast in the movie, any chance we will see Robin? How is he doing?
Kermit: Well, Robin has a cameo in the movie. Robin is now going to school. He hasn’t aged in the last 43 years, he’s still 5. And so he wasn’t really available while we were shooting but he does have a small cameo I think I see a moment of him. Yeah, yeah.
Q: As we see in the last film, like, you guys have really found your popularity resurgence. How has that been in the time since?
Kermit: Well I hope that’s true. I, you know, it’s a funny thing. We have to do these poems, you know, we like people to sit in the theater seats, but we sure have a lot of fun when we do them. And this one, I think it’s even more fun than the last one, for me, and I hope that translates onto the screen. I guess if it does, maybe we will do a third one. You know, we will see what happens.
Q: Do people stop you on the street and say, “You’re Kermit the Frog! You played Kermit the Frog”?
Kermit: No, they say “Hey little short guy, get out of the way.” I am often confused for a green fire hydrant, I have to be very careful. No, you know it’s great being an 18 to 24 inch tall celebrity. You can just slip through the crowds and people leave you alone.
Q: Can you talk about the musical numbers in this film and do you have a special one you like the best?
Kermit: Well, I do have to say I sort of, (loud speakers go off) That lady’s been here all day, I don’t know who she is. We did a number called “The Big House”, which is actually Tina Fey’s big number, and she sings this song where she’s welcoming me to prison. And I have to say, I was meant to act as though I am kind of depressed about that, but it was hard to do because it’s such a fun song, and I think people will see a side of Tina they haven’t seen before; she’s really wonderful.
Q: Welcome to the big house, is that what you said?
Kermit: The song is called “The Big House”.
Q: “The Big House”?
Kermit: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Q: And you said, Miss Piggy wasn’t in the scene that you guys were just filming. Is she kind of a diva on set, is that why she’s not here for the scene?
Kermit: Well, yes, sort of, sort of. I guess I could tell you guys this, we had a little trouble getting out of her trailer this morning, she didn’t want to come out. It was raining, and she thought she might melt or something, I don’t know, I don’t know. But no, I don’t think she’s here today, I don’t think she’s actually a part of – we shot her half of the scene back at a place called Blue Bell. Blue Bell in England, so she didn’t have to show up, so she’s probably sleeping in her trailer. Yeah.
Q : So this is the second movie with Walter, can you talk about working with him again? Does he have a smaller role in this?
Kermit: Well, no, actually it’s kind of cool. Well I guess he’s not quite the center of attention, but he sort of joins the group, you know. Which is what tends to happen to Muppets who make a debut, they either stick around or we put them in a drawer, you know. And Walter was such a big hit and everybody loved him and so we wanted him to be a part of everything. He’s sort of sharing, he sort of plays the same sort of spot in the Muppets as Scooter. So we have to find certain things for him to do so they’re not the same guy, yeah.
Q: Since Jason Segel and Amy Adams aren’t in this one, how is their absence addressed?
Kermit: Well, they, it’s not actually addressed. It’s just, we’re moving on from where we left off in the last movie. So Gary and Mary, that they play, just sort of aren’t a part of this particular story. It will all come clean in, come clear in the first scene. You will immediately know. So yeah.
Q: You mentioned you can sneak through a crowd, but when you’re filming out in public like this, what’s the reaction like from fans? Are they very excited to see you guys filming?
Kermit: I think so, I think so. They tend to, like here on this train platform I see people on the other side snapping pictures like crazy. There’s no telling what you will see. Kind of already security in the public like that. But no, I think so. It’s great to meet our fans. We don’t often get the chance to do it because we work in a studio, you know? So people come up to us all the time and they usually like our work, (but) some people don’t.
Q: I’m sorry, what’s your worst fan experience?
Kermit: Oh, wow. Worst fan experience. I don’t think I’ve had any really bad ones. No, I can make a big pun joke out of that. Truthfully, we love our fans and I’m always happy to see them around.
Q: Curious if we are going to be seeing the Muppet Theater in the sequel.
Kermit: You are, are you going to see that? Let me think back, let me think back, let me think back. You’re going to see other theaters where the Muppets are playing their show, but not actually the Muppet Theater. We sort of, as I say, we start this movie right where the last one left off, and it moves on from there. So no, actually, you don’t see the Muppet Theater, we move on.
Q: I see a bunch of Muppets being carried by humans to this black contraption over here, what’s going on inside that black-
Kermit: The black?
Q: Looks like a closet
Kermit: Oh yes. Yes, that is a- that’s sort of like on Star Trek when they put you inside that thing and they zap you back to Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s a one way ticket but it saves FedEx, you know.
Q: Might we see any recreations of some old famous Muppet sketches this time? Obviously the first time you got to do a pretty good amount of that but might we see…
Kermit: We did. I think there actually is probably a little less of that this time. This is less about sort of reminding people who we were in the past and moving us forward again, which is very cool. This is more, and not, you know it’s easy to call it a caper but not like the (Great) Muppet Caper. It’s actually just a more wacky story where the Muppets are trying to stay out of trouble. And there is quite a lot of trouble that we find that we are getting into, so it’s really more of a narrative kind of story.
Q: You’ve worked with this group for so many years, they are still kind of a rambunctious group.
Kermit: They are, they are.
Q: I mean, obviously you guys are like family, but how do you keep that connection going between all of you?
Kermit: Well, you know, some of us see each other when we are not working. Many of us kind of go our separate ways. I always go back to the swamp, Piggy goes to, like, Rodeo Drive for a holiday. It’s interesting, you know — with the Muppets, I sort of have to take care of things, you know, make sure we get where we are going, all that stuff. Rambunctious is a good word. Just the interstate permits alone to carry livestock, imagine taking Sweetums and Thog to London, you know. It’s like a quarantine thing, so there is quite a lot of coordination.
Q: Do you have to cater The Muppet Show to the different international audiences or is it the same show everywhere?
Kermit: Well, I mean, frankly we try to have catering wherever we go. We are quite late on lunch today I think, but I always cater- I’m all in favor of catering, yes, yes.
Q: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Kermit: Thank you all for hanging out, it was good to talk to you.
Q: What are you most excited for fans to be seeing?
Piggy: Well, moi, naturally! I’m very excited to be giving the world more of moi. The last movie was so successful and that was largely, in part, due to moi, so we are, of course, doing the sequel which will feature even more of moi, I’m happy to say. I actually get a solo in this movie that I do not have to sing with somebody else. The last one, I had to do a solo with Amy Adams. This one, I do not have to share the stage with anyone.
Q: Lots of romance in this movie?
Piggy: Oh yeah! You betcha. If you want romance, this is the movie for you.
Q: We’ve heard that there is going to be a wedding this season that may involve a pig. Is that going to be with you?
Piggy: Let’s see. How much do I want to say? I do have a beautiful while dress that has a veil and a very long train in this movie. I’m not going to say what it’s used for, but I do get to wear it and you’ll get to see me in it.
Q: When we saw you in the last film, you were in Paris. We know The Muppets get to go to Europe in this one. Do we get to see any of your friends from Europe?
Piggy: Any of my European friends in this movie? Yes, in fact, we do have a few of them. Let’s see, some that come to mind are Ricky Gervais. What does he play in this movie? I don’t know. He’s somewhere in the background. He did that show Extras which I saw and I thought he would be perfect to be an extra in my movie (laughter).
Q: What kinds of fabulous fashions are you going to be wearing in this film, besides the white one? Do you have a favorite?
Piggy: Besides the white one which [a certain designer] made for moi, [they] made a couple of other outfits that I wear in the movie as well. I’m very excited to be wearing those. I’ve got so many outfits in this movie. I can’t even tell you how many. There are some scenes where I start in one costume and change into another costume by the end of the scene. Sometimes, in the same shot.
Q: You aren’t changing on camera, are you?
Piggy: Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.
Q: The scene we are watching today, the Muppets are going on a train. Where are you going?
Piggy: I don’t know. That way (she points down the train track). Every time the train moves, it seems to be going that way. This is where we’re getting on a train to go to Europe. I love Europe. It’s a wonderful country.
Q: You’re taking the train from Los Angeles to Europe.
Piggy: Yes! Duh. How else would you go? I mean, really.
Q: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey are in this movie. What are they like to work with?
Piggy: They’re absolutely wonderful. Which ones are they again?
Q: The extras.
Piggy: The extras, yes. They truly are very funny, very talented, and as long as they don’t get between moi and the camera, they are also very healthy, yes.
Q: Amy Adams and Jason Segel aren’t in this film. Are their characters going to be addressed?
Piggy: I don’t know. If you want to write them a post card and address it to them, you may. I really don’t see the point of it myself. This is a Muppet movie you know. Nobody really cares about the humans.
Q: This is the second time you’ve worked with director James Bobin. This time around, does he know to just stay out of your way and let you be you?
Piggy: I’m sorry. Who did you say the director was? (laughter)
Q: Piggy, the Muppets have become so successful again since the last movie. Has your relationship with Kermie changed?
Piggy: No. We’ve always been steadfast loves. In the movies, we may sometimes have our squabbles and it may be difficult but in real life, we are always truly, madly and deeply in love with one another.
Q: We know that there is a Kermit impersonator in this movie. If Piggy loves Kermit so much, would she be able to tell the difference?
Piggy: A Kermit impersonator? Where did you hear such a foolish thing? There can only be one Kermit. I have no idea what you’re talking about but I will say that, some days, Kermit seemed more like himself than others. Some days he would come along and be the very soft-spoken, gentle and handsome frog that I’ve always known. Then, some days he would come to work and just be barking out orders and in a foul mood and not paying any attention to me. I wonder what that was?
Q: Piggy, you look great. What is your fitness regimen and what kind of diet do you do?
Piggy: (She laughs). Oh, I don’t do any of that myself. I have people who do that for me. If you are a celebrity in Hollywood, you have people who do things for you like work out for you. I only hire the best.
Q: Are any of your older Muppet friends in this movie who might not have been in the last movie?
Piggy: How old are you talkin’ about?
Q: Like from the original TV show?
Piggy: I don’t really pay attention to people’s ages, especially mine! The cast is replete with Muppets both old and new (she starts listing them to herself). Just trying to think. Uh, no!
Q: Any new ones we haven’t met yet?
Piggy: Well, I still consider Walter new. He keeps messing up my coffee order. Until he gets that right, we’re going to keep calling him “the new guy.” Really, who needs anybody new when you have moi?
Q: I heard you might have a dance with Christoph Waltz in Europe when you were filming. The Waltz was waltzing.
Piggy: You mean, did we go out clubbing? Is that what you’re asking?
Q: Maybe, but a more formal dance?
Piggy: In the movie, no. I will say, in the movie, no. (laughter)
Q: The first film won an Oscar for best song, and it wasn’t your solo, and I’m convinced it was because Amy Adams sort of took that away from you. Is there any hostility there?
Piggy: We’ll just see if she’s in the new movie, won’t we? We’ll just see if it was in somebody’s contract that she was not allowed back in the sequel to the successful first film that was so successful because of me.
Q: What is your solo in this film going to be about?
Piggy: Well, it’s right before a very big event in my life where I’m wearing the white dress.
Q: (Noting a huge diamond sparkler on her finger) Is that a special ring on a special finger?
Piggy: This? This, I got out of a box of Crackerjacks. You want it?
Q: Talk a little bit what it’s like to be embraced by the Muppets community.
Walter: Oh, gosh. To be so embraced… it’s a life changing event. It’s really wild being back here in Los Angeles where my whole journey began in the first film. It’s humbling. It’s a bit like a homecoming here. Yeah, being back in L.A. is like comin’ home. Being embraced by the Muppets, what can I say? It’s a dream come true over and over. Every day I have to keep pinching myself. I’m covered in bruises, which is why I wear long sleeves.
Q: Is it all smooth sailing for Walter now that he’s living his dream?
Walter: Are there still challenges? Certainly there are still challenges, yeah. I don’t want to give too much away. Are you asking about the film or just my life in general?
Q: In the film.
Walter: In the film! Oh yes, right. It’s certainly not smooth-sailing as it were. I get seasick quite easily… we don’t do anything on boats… (laughs) sorry, terrible joke. I continue to do my own stunts in this film, and that’s always a lot of fun. Very painful, but good.
Q: Who have you most bonded with?
Walter: Of all the guys? Oh, my gosh… who have I most bonded with? I’m close with all the fellas… I suppose Fozzie and I have a close connection. It’s so weird to be friends with somebody I was a fan of first. It’s kind of amazing. Every now and then I have to step outside of myself and say “Oh my gosh, I’M FRIENDS WITH FOZZIE BEAR! Okay, be cool, Walter, be cool.” It’s a fine line.
Q: Who was the biggest personality surprise, who maybe wasn’t exactly like you thought they’d be?
Walter: Rowlf the Dog, surprisingly enough. It’s right there in his name, “the dog.” Rowlf will sometimes come up to me and look at me like he’s never seen me before. Then he sniffs me and he goes, “Walter!” (laughs) I was not ready for that.
Q: In the last film we learned you have quite a talent for whistling. Is that something that comes back in this film as well?
Q: (Everybody laughs)
Walter: Actually, I do whistle one time in the film. I understand that sometimes the way movies work, sometimes things can get cut and it’s possible I won’t whistle at all, but in the making of the film I did whistle once. Quite well. At least, I will once the guy who does my whistling puts it in in post because I’m a hack. (laughs) I’m just teasing.
Q: How are you doing without your brother, played by Jason [Segel] in the last movie? He’s not with you this time, are you independent now?
Walter: Yeah, kinda. I’ve grown up and moved on. I miss him, though. I will always have a special place in my heart for Jason Segel, my movie star brother, but I think he’s doing great. We’re both doing great.
Q: You’re still wearing the watch.
Walter: Yeah, do you guys see that? (holds up his arm) Ask me what time it is.
Q: (all) What time is it?
Walter: Oh, it’s about Kermit time! He talks to me sometimes, too. (holds wrist up to his ear) What’s that Kermit? Ooooh, yes, I think I’m doing okay. I haven’t messed up any of the answers yet. What’s that? Agh! I hate it when he goes, “Yaaaaaaaay” in my ear.
Q: How is it working with Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell on this film?
Walter: That’s three very different questions! Let me start with Ricky. Ricky is a great guy. He’s really funny and he’s a huge fan, too. He’s kind of like a human Walter. He’s got this great laugh, too. Have you guys ever heard Ricky’s laugh? It’s like “hahahahaha” and it’s like that from the moment we get on set to about three or four o’clock. Then the laughter dies. I think he gets a little tired. No, he’s great.
Tina… my gosh, is there no end to that woman’s talents? Her singing and dancing in this film is really something.
Ty Burrell, I love him in Modern Family. He plays a very different character in our movie. He’s very versatile and very, very tall. I got a little crick in my neck looking up at the man. He’s unbelievably tall. He’s a giant in the industry.
(We get the wrap up signal)
You guys don’t have to wrap it up, we’re having fun!
Q: In this movie you have a little bit of a smaller role than in the other one…
Walter: Well, sure. Yeah.
Q: So what is your role in this film?
Walter: Ah! Well, I play the character of Walter, who is new to the Muppets… (laughs) Actually, I discover a secret in this film. I discover something that is very, very wrong, and I enlist the help of Fozzie, and Animal comes along and we make it right. It’s actually a pretty dramatic turning point in the movie. I’m very happy with my role in the film. Heck, if they just let me bring water to the guys on the set, I’d be happy. Are you kidding?!?
Q: Miss Piggy did criticize your coffee-bringing skills. She said you need to work a little harder on that.
Walter: Yeah, she still thinks I’m the coffee boy. She’s another one who doesn’t remember me, but it doesn’t seem to help if I ask her to smell me. (laughter) It’s not quite the same. I should probably end on that. That was pretty funny. Quit while I’m ahead!
Q: Who do you hang out with after shooting is over?
Walter: After shooting is over? I hang out in a box. That part I was also not expecting.
Now, we hope, you have a little bit of an idea of what to expect from Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted, which opens in theaters March 21, 2014.
Are you excited for the film? Let us know in the comments below!