Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
“I interviewed Kermit the Frog.” That’s a sentence I’ll probably be bragging to my kids about when I’m old and gray. On the occasion of the Muppets latest film, Muppets Most Wanted, I sat down with the frog, myth and legend to discuss the sequel. We talked about his isolated role in the story, the incredible spot on casting of his doppelgänger Constantine as well as his co-stars including Ty Burrell, Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais.
But this is Kermit the effing Frog. A Hollywood icon. I also talked to him about his movie going habits, his thoughts on the current state of cinema and if he feels blockbusters will cripple the system. We talked about the on demand generation, his favorite films of 2013 as well as director James Bobin‘s next film, Alice in Wonderland 2.
We also talked about other roles Kermit has been up for, including potential roles as the Hulk or Rocket Raccoon in the Marvel Universe and if he contacted J.J. Abrams about Star Wars Episode VII. It was an eclectic, 9 minute discussion which you can not only read, but listen to, in its entirety, below.
Here’s the audio of my interview with Kermit the Frog, laid in over some images of Muppets Most Wanted, which opens Friday.
And here’s the full transcript.
/Film: Hello, Kermit, how are you?
Kermit the Frog: I’m doing very well, how are you?
What’s your name?
Hi, Germain, nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too. Now you have a lot of solo work in this film. You don’t spend a lot of time with your cast, what was that like?
Well it was different. I am normally right in the center of all the craziness with the Muppets, you know. And this time I was shooting most of my scenes in a whole separate place. I mean, the good part was I got to work with Tina Fey and Ray Liotta, you know, pretty intimidating fellow. Danny Trejo and all those guys.
Yeah. Are you a GoodFellas fan? Did you talk to Liotta at all about that?
Well, you know, the problem with bringing that up is that Ray immediately goes into character. But he did give me a few, you know, I had to, you may have seen the one scene where I have to be very tough with the prisoners. And Ray was a great source of help on that. He showed me faces to make like… You know, frowny faces.
Now there’s a lot of things Muppets fans probably thought they’d never see in this movie. You don’t wanna spoil it for the audience, but a lot of the in the flash forwards I wanna say. Were you hesitant when you read the script that this movie was gonna go to those places? We were gonna see those kind of things?
You mean like the Piggy song?
The Piggy song, yeah. [Note: It's called "Something so Right."]
Where we, yeah, you see us a bit older and stuff?
Yes, that kind of thing.
Well I think it was actually fun. I have to say, we used prosthetics for that. I had wrinkles put under my eyes and stuff like that. I enjoyed it. I think it’s fun.
And the good part is that it will sustain her for a while. To have seen a buggy full of small froggy pigs. So I’m under less pressure right now. Yeah.
Okay. There you go. Now Constantine is a new addition to the Muppet team. What was your first reaction when meeting him? Did you think it was actually just like really good casting or were you aware that he was out there?
No, I actually brought him in for the casting. You know, they came to me, they said, “Kermit, we need frogs, a frog who looks exactly like you. Almost.” Now that’s hard for me because I don’t quite see the resemblance myself. But I just brought in a bunch of frogs and did a lineup and waiting for Miss Piggy not to recognize me. And as soon as that happened, we were all set.
Nice. Now you’re one of the most recognizable stars in the world, yet you’ve been mostly in Muppet movies, have you ever gone out for other films?
I have a couple times. But I will tell you that it’s very hard for a short, green actor who is not human to get parts in Hollywood. Most of the kind of roles I feel I could play would go to, you know, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, George Clooney.
Well it’s funny you say that because Disney, which runs the Muppets now runs Lucasfilm. Did you talk to J.J. Abrams about Star Wars Episode VII?
I did, I did, I thought maybe I could play Yoda. But, you know, I don’t really have the ears for it. I got the color, not the ears. I also, you know, we’re also, we also are with Marvel, their half sister.
I was gonna do the Hulk. But, you know, right color again, no muscles.
Rocket Raccoon in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie is a talking animal.
Well maybe. Maybe I could play a raccoon. Wear a fur suit.
Yeah. Now a movie like this is a family film, but it’s a big budget studio movie. You’re looking at a world where Disney and other studios are making these huge, huge blockbusters.
As somebody who’s been in the business for so long is Hollywood getting crippled by these blockbusters? What do you think about the sort of the state of the industry right now?
You know, I have to say I don’t know that we’ve, I mean, we’ve done some films that did very well. I don’t know whether you’d call them blockbusters or not. I mean, I’ve always truly done this just because I like doing it. So it might make it harder with the emphasis on blockbusters to do these kinds of things just ’cause you love it, you know? ‘Cause somebody’s gotta pay for it.
What do you think about Video On Demand, streaming, the sort of new technologies influencing the film industry? Where do you see that sort of affecting your career and the industry in general?
Well I, you know, I’m no expert. I’m no expert. But I can say I certainly that in the swamp. We don’t have a movie theater, so I get to see the shows. And it’s odd watching television in the swamp because electrical things are dangerous, you know?
So how do [watch movies now? On TV?] Do you get screeners, you must be part of the guilds?
Well I, yeah, I’m slightly less, I’m slightly less partial to On Demand, because it makes me think of Miss Piggy. That’s tough. Everything with her is on demand. Oh…
Oh speaking of Miss Piggy, what are you like on set? We don’t really get to see the behind the scenes of Kermit. We probably can assume what Miss Piggy’s like on set. Are you like the guy about town?
Well yeah, you’d probably get it right if you assumed what Miss Piggy was like. She’s rarely on set. She’s mostly in her trailer. She even had a blue screen installed in her trailer so she could shoot her scenes from there. Very, very picky. I don’t know, I like to mingle. I like to be on the set between scenes. I like to, I have my little chair, you know. But I invite people to come by and say “Hi”. I always try to greet the crew in the morning. Try to learn everybody’s name and what they do. Love the craft service table. It’s wonderful in England to have craft service table because the bugs are just there automatically. Yeah, it works out very well.
Were you a fan of your human counterparts in this? Have you seen 30 Rock, Modern Family?
You know, I actually had a cameo on 30 Rock.
Oh that’s right.
Yeah, and so I’ve known Tina for a long time. And we did Saturday Night Live when she was I think the head writer. She’s great. She’s great. I love her. And Ricky I knew from all kinds of things. You know, The Invention of Lying, I thought he was wonderful in that. And Ty of course is great. I think his French accent, well it’s actually frightening for a frog, you know?
Yes, ’cause the whole frog legs things.
Yeah, of course. I’m an appetizer in that country.
Did you, were you a little shy in this film? I guess, James, wanted to show a little bit more of your body. We get to see your legs, we get to see sort of a little bit more frog, what was that like?
I think it’s great. I think it shows a whole new dimension of my character. You know us frogs are famous for our legs. They’re very, very important to us. And it serves the cause, that whole frog leg thing. So maybe people will become a little more aware, you know?
Sure. Yeah. Now we talked a little bit about the movies in general, did you watch the Oscars this year?
I saw part of them. I saw part of them. I was doing so much P.R. for the film already, I got to bed early that night. But I figured I’d look up the results on Google, you know?
What were some of your favorite movies that you saw this year?
KWell I personally really liked Gravity. I like Sandra Bullock. She’s an old pal. We worked with her on Muppets Tonight. I think she was great. I liked George too. I’m sorry he floated off into space forever. You know, it’s kind of tough.
You did a space movie, you can relate.
I understand. Yeah, I didn’t actually go into space.
But yes. And Miss Piggy actually liked that movie too. We were watching the Oscars together. She sort of thinks that that movie as a possible weight loss program. She’s working on it. Yeah.
Now when the last movie came out, the reboot sort of, and Bret McKenzie won the Oscar for Man or Muppet, what did you guys do to celebrate with that?
Well I spent a lot of time with Bret. He’s a terrific guy and he’s actually invited me to come to New Zealand next year. And so we sort of postponed the celebration ’cause I’ve never been there. I’ve never been there and I understand it’s a beautiful place with lots of my relatives. So we’re gonna do that.
All right. And, you know, I’m kind of wrapping up here but it’s been great to talk to you.
What is James Bobin like on set? What is he as a Director? He’s been, I mean, he’s worked with, you know, Ali G and Conchords, he’s just such a great comedy background.
Well I think if once you’re done with Ali G, you’d sort of just show up to every other movie shell shocked. So I think it was refreshing to be able to calm down with us. None of us are quite that insane. Although Ricky’s a close second. But no, James is nice. James is a good guy.
And the last thing speaking of his next film is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland.
What have you heard about that? Are you, did you talk to him about that?
I have heard, I’ll tell you exactly what I’ve truly heard. I’ve heard he’s going to be locked in an edit room for like three years putting the whole thing together. It’s crazy, it’s all blue screen. But, you know, I mean, you get to work with Johnny Depp, that’s wonderful.
I haven’t even done that. I mean, at the red carpet once, but…
Well congratulations on this film, it was a great sequel and it was very nice to talk to you.
Yeah. Thank you, thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Muppets Most Wanted, starring Kermit the Frog, opens March 21.