Posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
Last May, I was lucky enough to visit the set of Muppets Most Wanted, and alongside a group of other journalists, interviewed the stars of the film on Platform 11 of Union Station. No human actors were on set the day of our visit, but I’m fine with that as it means I got to chat with two of my childhood heroes: Kermit, Miss Piggy and their newest Walter . After the jump you can read the transcripts of these three roundtable interviews.
First up is Miss Piggy. You can play the audio in your browser, or read the transcript below.
Q: We’re on the set of your sequel, “The Muppets….Again”. 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 [redacted] made for moi, she 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? (how scandalous)
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 Segal 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 regime 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.
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?
You can play the audio in your browser, or read the transcript below.
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?
Kermt: 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 can you talk about working with Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais, 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 popular, 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 screen 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)*
Kermit: 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 pipe ?(form)? 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, 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-?
(note: the reporter is talking about the black closet that the Muppet puppets are stored in after they are done filming)
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 on 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 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.
You can play the audio in your browser, or read the transcript below.
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 LA 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 Fozzy 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 FOZZY 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 answer 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 Fozzy 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.
Q: (everybody laughs)
Walter: 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.