There are few actors in the history of cinema as iconic as Kermit the Frog, the leading man of the new comedy The Muppets. his name stirs emotions – Kermit is the sort of performer who puts a lump in your throat, and brings out a childlike glee. He was joined by Miss Piggy (who arrived fashionably late to the interview) and the newest Muppet Walter to talk about their collaboration with Jason Segel and what he and the rest of the gang had been up to before their return to the big screen, and the shooting process. Check it out…
How are you guys?
Kermit the Frog: We are tired, but we’re happy to talk about our movie. That’s kind of fun.
Walter: I’m just so excited and happy to be here, and just great.
Kermit: You are so enthusiastic. That’s what I like about you.
Walter: Aw, thank you, Kermit.
Kermit, is what was going on in the movie what’s really been going on in your life, since we last saw you?
Kermit: No. It’s not exactly a documentary. It’s not reality. It was just a story.
What were you doing, during that time?
Kermit: Over the course of the last 20 years, we’ve done lots of stuff. We did some other TV shows and TV movies, and some work for the internet. We did “Bohemian Rhapsody” about a year ago. So, we’ve been together, but it made for a better story, if we had been separated for 20 years. We took a little artistic license.
Did you have script approval?
Kermit: I did not, and that’s fine. All I had to do was open to page 30 and it said, “Kermit the Frog enters here,” and I did. What am I going to do? It said, “Kermit the Frog.” Who else is going to play it, right? Justin Bieber wasn’t available.
Walter: The casting was a no-brainer, for that one.
Walter, how was the audition process?
Walter: It was actually really, really cool.
Miss Piggy: There was no audition process for moi! Are you kidding?!
Walter: The question was asked of me. It was an all-time classic Hollywood story. I was swimming laps at the hotel, and this talent scout came up and said, “Whoa, I think you’re perfect for the film.” They had been scouring the country for 18-inch tall guys to play this role, who also happen to be big Muppets fans. Jason (Segel) said it came down to me and another guy, and the other guy wasn’t available.
Miss Piggy: Fascinating! Let’s talk about me, shall we?
Missy Piggy, who designed your wardrobe for the film?
Missy Piggy: I did have a pair of Louboutin shoes made for moi, as well as an outfit by Zac Posen. This was a very highly regarded fashion assignment. I had a whole wonderful wardrobe. I think I had 738 costume changes in the movie. I had five costume changes in one shot. I think that’s a record.
Kermit: That’s true. I had almost none. I was mostly naked, for the whole film.
Walter: Well, it was a Jason Segel film, so somebody had to be.
Kermit: That’s right. Better me than Jason.
Were you guys fans of Forgetting Sarah Marshall?
Kermit: Well, that whole opening scene was inspired by my nudity, so yeah.
Walter: I actually had not heard of Jason Segel before this film. After meeting him, we’ve become friends. I have watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I watched it on an airplane so I wouldn’t have to see his bumpy bits.
Miss Piggy: I actually still haven’t heard of Jason Segel. Who is this guy?
Kermit: He’s that tall guy who was on set every day.
Walter: He’s the one whose name was on the script.
Miss Piggy: Oh, I didn’t read the script.
Kermit, some performers get tired of singing the same song, over and over again. Do you get tired of signing “Rainbow Connection,” or is it always good to go back to it?
Kermit: I think it’s nice to sing it again. The last time I did it in a movie was 34 years ago. I hope that “Rainbow Connection” still has some relevance. I think it’s a pretty song. I think it does.
Miss Piggy: I think it does, especially with my voice added to it.
Kermit: And we did add Piggy’s voice, and all the other guys too, so that was nice.
Kermit, was there ever any consideration about you directing the film?
Kermit: No, I just want to perform. I really wasn’t looking to direct. It’s too much responsibility. You’ve gotta think in everyone’s mind, instead of just your own. And, while I am a talking from and relatively sentient, I don’t think I’ve got quite that much brain power going.
Miss Piggy: Aw, you sell yourself short, Kermit.
Kermit: Yeah, well, I am short.
Do you guys pull any pranks on set?
Kermit: All the time. We are famous for it. We like to scare each other. We like to hide behind doors and jump out, and stuff like that.
Miss Piggy: I don’t like that. I don’t like that, at all!
Kermit: Some of the things that might pass as prinks on other sets are actually accidents on ours, like explosions and the Swedish Chef’s food.
Walter: Jason Segel sitting on me, during our scene in the mansion.
Kermit: Yeah, we had a sofa crush.
Walter: That was the most pressure I felt, during this entire experience.
Walter, did you have any special time that you got to spend with Jason Segel?
Walter: Oh, yeah, for sure, totally. It was part of getting into the role of being brothers and best friends. We hung out a lot. We went to Johnny Rockets, we did karaoke, we went bowling together.
Would you say that you’re a method actor?
Walter: I wouldn’t say that at all, no. Although I did draw from my own experience, and my own emotional, well to perform the role of Walter. It’s just a happy coincidence that my name happens to be Walter.
Kermit: What a coincidence! And, my name happens to be Kermit the Frog. Talk about weird!
Walter: And, he was cast as Kermit the Frog.
Kermit: Same with Piggy.
Walter: I suppose you’d call all of us method actors, then.
Kermit: These were the roles we were born to play.
Walter: I felt like I was made for this role.
Kermit, you and Miss Piggy have both had quite a bit of experience with adoring fans. Did you give Walter any advice, in how he can deal with the adoring public?
Kermit: I’ve tried to be there for Walter, when he asks questions.
Walter: You have been. I think the best advice you gave me, Kermit, was, “Always find a chair or a box to stand on, if you want to reach the brownies on the craft service table.”
Kermit: That’s a very valuable piece of advice.
Walter: Believe me, it’s come in really handy.
Miss Piggy: Is that what happened to all the brownies? You know, those were for moi? Those were in my contract. That’s why they were there.
Walter: I didn’t realize, Piggy. I thought you had your own brownies in your dressing room. I didn’t think you had to go to the common craft service table with everyone else. Clearly, I’m mistaken. I’m sorry!
I hope you didn’t put on the craft service 10 pounds.
Walter: You have to watch out for that!
Kermit: Yes, you do, especially at my age.
Kermit, you’re naked, so at least the wardrobe doesn’t have to change.
Kermit: That’s right.
Walter: Jason did talk about leading man shape that you have to stay in.
Kermit: Yeah, he’s so svelte, after all.
Kermit and Miss Piggy, you’ve been in the spotlight for years and you’re being introduced to a new generation now. Are you excited to have new potential fans see this movie?
Miss Piggy: I am so excited, but I am not nearly as excited as the rest of the world is, obviously, that moi is gracing the silver screen once again. This is really a love letter, both to moi’s existing fans, and all of my new ones.
Kermit: It is wonderful. I hear from so many folks, who now have kids, who grew up with us back in those Muppet Show days. It’s great to have the chance to think that we might be able to let them introduce us to their kids. I hope that works.
Walter, what’s it like to officially be a part of the Muppet canon?
Walter: For me, it’s a huge honor. You talk about the Muppet canon, but actually Gonzo offered to shoot me out of the Muppet cannon.
Kermit: Yes, there is an actual Muppet cannon.
Walter: There is! That’s not just a rumor. But, I did all my own stunts in the film, like the electrocution and getting the cake dropped on me.
Kermit: I think people probably thought that electrocution scene was a special effect. But, we actually wired him up.
Walter: No, that was not a special effect! They totally wired me up, and there were sparks and smoke. Apparently, when you become one of the Muppets, you’re doing your own stunts.
Kermit: Authenticity is the name of the game.
Walter: But, they’re really authentic, which is something that you’ve got to respect. It’s a huge honor and it’s humbling, really, to be with these guys. How else could it be?
Kermit: Well, it could be awful.
Walter: It could be a terrible, horrible experience. But, you asked about what Kermit taught me. Kermit has been doing this a long time, and yet, he’s the same, humble, real frog he’s always been. He always sees the best in people. I think that the old fans and new ones alike will really appreciate that and relate to it.
Kermit: I hope so.
Throughout the years, have you learned how to interpret the Swedish Chef?
Kermit: We’re all wondering about the Swedish Chef. We’re not sure. But I’m not sure we want to know what he’s saying. It may be better that we don’t know.
Do you like his food? Do you think he’s a good chef?
Kermit: I like Swedish food. Whether or not I like the Swedish Chef’s food is a day-by-day, judgmental thing.
Kermit and Piggy, do you want to address the rumors of sexual tension on the set, during filming?
Kermit: Well, there were rumors.
Miss Piggy: It could have been the good kind of tension.
Kermit: Listen, Piggy and I have been together for a long time.
Miss Piggy: They’re all true. All the rumors between moi and Kermie are true. The more scandalous, the more true they are.
Kermit: I think the secret to our relationship is that Piggy can flirt with whoever she likes, and I better not.
Miss Piggy, did you flirt with Jason Segel on set?
Miss Piggy: That is a rumor that is not true! That’s one that Jason has started, evidently.
Kermit: Now you know how it feels.
Miss Piggy: He’s a very funny man, yes, but he’s not my type. My type is more short, green and handsome.
Miss Piggy, what was the hardest acting challenge for you?
Miss Piggy: Well, I think it was playing the editor of this fashion magazine because I had to be this boss. To be a boss, you have to be really bossy, and that is not like me at all, in real life.
Kermit: No, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Absolutely no type-casting there.
Walter, do you have any advice for anybody who wants to make it in the business?
Walter: Oh, gosh, that’s tough. Just like the Muppets teach you, just believe in yourself. If there’s something different about you that maybe doesn’t quite let you fit in with other people, that’s probably the truest thing and the best thing about yourself, so be in touch with that and love that. Just believe in yourself and dreams can come true. That sounds really cliche.
Miss Piggy: Oh, my gosh, that is pathetic! Believe in yourself and your dreams will come true?
Walter: That’s totally cliche, but I was trying to say that the things that make you special and make you different from other people are often what’s best about you.
Kermit: Walter, that’s completely okay, unless you’re an axe murderer, and then perhaps you might want to make a few changes before you believe too strongly.
Walter: Or, if your leg eczema is the special thing about you. That’s a good point.
Kermit: Never believe your own PR. That’s my advice. That’s very important.
Miss Piggy: Unless your own PR is something that you, yourself, wrote.
The Moopets are kind of the villains in the film. How were they behind the scenes?
Kermit: To play a role like that, you have to be kind of rough. But, I’d say they were actually okay, behind the scenes. They’re just hard-working actors and actresses in Hollywood.
Miss Piggy: That we got from the chain gang.
Kermit: That’s right. And, like so many of them, they’ve had their ups and downs. But, The Moopets are okay.
With that I told Kermit that I had been a fan all my life and he said thank you, and then I took a picture with him as miss Piggy. The Muppets opens November 23. Check it out.