The best part of covering a muppet movie is knowing that you’re going to get free comedy when you talk to the cast and crew, and Muppets Most Wanted is no different. Here Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell were seated next to Kermit the Frog, Sam Eagle, Constantine and Miss Piggy, who — as always — was fashionably late.
Yes, for Kermit. I was wondering – nothing against you Constantine – but I was wondering why Kermit you didn’t want to play both parts because it would have really enhanced your acting credits. And where’s Miss Piggy?
Kermit the Frog: Boy, that’s two very different questions, I’ll tell you. You know it didn’t make sense for me to play Constantine ‘cause we do have a few scenes together and I don’t really work on green screen so we couldn’t really make that work. But plus, listen Constantine is actually a—a distant cousin, from Russia.
Kermit the Frog: Also with roots in the Colorado area I understand.
Constantine: This is true.
Kermit the Frog: Yeah, yeah. They like to lick toads there but anyway. So—so it was better to get him to do it. He has the voice you know.
Sam Eagle: He is actually from Russia?
Kermit the Frog: Well, I’m afraid so Sam. I’m afraid so.
Sam Eagle: Thanks goodness you’re sitting between the two of us. That’s all I can say.
Constantine: But what is weird thing is I cannot speak any Russian words.
Tina Fey: You were born in the Russian airport.
Kermit the Frog: Oh, and I should, to answer the second part of your question, well, I’m just gonna give it away. Miss Piggy is actually around but she—she insisted upon being fashionably late. So, I don’t know when she’s gonna show up but she is here.
I wanted to ask the humans amongst the group here, about the singing and was it, were you nervous at all about being in a musical, how did you approach it and will there be more musicals in your future?
Ricky Gervais: Well, I was okay with singing. I’m a failed pop star. I always sneak a song into everything I do, whether it’s David Brent or The Simpsons, but my dancing is a little awkward. A little embarrassed about that. I don’t move well. But I was with a frog.
Kermit the Frog: Yes.
Ricky Gervais: So it doesn’t matter. I’ll do anything with a frog. That’s—that’s my motto.
Constantine: That is nothing.
Ricky Gervais: And he was a, he’s a great tap dancer —well, more a flap dancer …
Constantine: I did flap dancing.
Ricky Gervais: Yeah, flap dancing on my head. So, yeah no one’s gonna be looking at me when—when we’re doing that dance. They’re gonna say there’s a frog dancing. So, yeah I got away with it.
Tina Fey: You know you have a good voice. And my singing sounds like if you’ve ever seen the version of Oliver when the little boy sings and you can hear the hiss of how loud they had to turn up the microphone , it’s—my singing sounds like that.
Kermit the Frog: No, no that’s not true. You were great, you were great.
Tina Fey: But I think you know, Bret wrote really really good songs that make us seem good.
Sam Eagle: America and the world were spared my singing voice except for two notes. I don’t know if you noticed that. I think it was by design. I spoke, I spoke my song but I was thrilled to do it. I am huge fan of Bret McKenzie.
Kermit the Frog: Well, you are selling yourself short. You’re a great singer, a great actor and a great American.
In your Nadya persona, can you tell us why you, not Miss Piggy, are the right woman for Kermit? She’ll stab you in the back later but just tell us now why you’re the right woman?
Tina Fey: Nadya is less work than Piggy. You can give Nadya bag of hot rocks for Valentine’s day she will not care. “Is a cheap date.”
Constantine: Well, this is good question. I am actually thinking about doing new Netflix original programming. I will call it House of Toads. I will executive produce and show run. So let’s take meeting yes?
Ricky Gervais: I love this guy. He’s cold blooded – he’s an amphibian. But he’s got it all, I think I’ve melted his heart a little bit. You see he had a bad upbringing. He was born in a Russian pond, weren’t you?
Ricky Gervais: One of 800 siblings. Many of ‘em dead.
Constantine: Eaten by fish.
Ricky Gervais: And he came over here and we met and we bonded didn’t we? We bonded over our mutual hatred of most of the other Muppets.
Constantine: Well, of particular pig.
Ricky Gervais: Oh, yeah don’t get me started.
Sam Eagle: Yeah, good thing she’s not here.
So in the movie there’s a scene where Kermit, you try to mimic Constantine in that mirror. So I was wondering for all of you in your own personal lives have you ever tried to be someone and mimic someone that isn’t true to who you really are?
Kermit the Frog: I think that’s what we do for a living isn’t it?
Ty Burrell: Yeah, yeah. We turn that very strange psychological disorder into a—a lucrative career.
There’s a line in the movie that, over here that suggests that there may have been some rivalry behind the scenes over how much screen time Walter got in the last movie. Would Kermit and Sam care to comment on that? Any sort of behind the scenes politicking?
Kermit the Frog: Sam, you’re good at behind the scenes politicking.
Sam Eagle: I will just say that I am happy with how this movie turned out and all the screen time that everyone here …
Kermit the Frog: Sam, Sam you didn’t answer the question.
Sam Eagle: Exactly Kermit. That was the point.
My question is for Ricky Gervais. I was curious if you were to do another season of An Idiot Abroad and pair Karl with any one of the Muppets, which Muppet would you pair him with to annoy him the most and where would you send them around the world?
Ricky Gervais: I reckon, wow, Piggy I reckon, It can’t stand anything high maintenance and whiney so that—that would be good. That would, that would really, I mean, that would finish him off I think. Or Bunsen, that would be good as well. Because they look so alike. That would confuse him. He wouldn’t know which one he was by the end of the show so that would be easy.
What do you guys think that kids will like most about this movie?
Tina Fey: I think they’re gonna like how funny the movie is because, you know, I think there’s a lot of jokes in the movie and kids who are like 8, 9, 10 years old they take a lot of pride in getting the jokes.
Ricky Gervais: I remember when I was a kid watching the Muppets. I had older brothers and sisters and they were laughing and I—I sort of knew that it was cool as well, you know, good—good for me so I think kids relate to that. They like things that adults like as well.
Kermit the Frog: I for one do not get any of the jokes in this movie. I just want to say.
Ty Burrell: I have an IQ of a seven-year-old and I loved this movie so much. I also love juice.
Kermit, what are you most proud of?
Kermit the Frog: Well, you—you may be surprised to hear this but I’m actually stretching myself quite a lot as a dramatic actor in this thing. I did many, many scenes with Tina. One particular scene stands out to me. It was a closed set. It was the scene where she licks me. I just wanna clear it up right here with the press that Tina is happily married. Jeff was there during the shooting.
Tina Fey: He was—he was, my husband was there. He was being very kind of controlling and creepy.
Kermit the Frog: Yes, but supportive, supportive.
Tina Fey: Kind of a Star 80 thing but I had never done a scene like that before either. I mean I’d filmed a lot of weird stuff at home but …To have a whole crew there, I was nervous and Kermit really put me at my ease.
Sam Eagle: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to leave now . I’m—I’m doing double duty here both promoting this film and also working in hotel security.
Kermit the Frog: Oh, thanks thanks.
Ricky Gervais: Oh. Oh, yes because I’m pretending to be a sort of sleazy LA agent, not that there are any sleazy LA agents to infiltrate the Muppets. Yeah, it was, it’s quite nice playing a slime ball, a villain. I like that. I’ve liked playing flawed characters, it’s fun. It’s sort of an exorcism. You’re saying I’m not really like that myself. The Muppets do what I tried to do in Extras of many years before. Taking famous people and making them make fools of themselves. Being on the flip side of it like doing stuff like this and Curb Enthusiasm, you enjoy it and you wanna be worse ‘cause you’re saying “I can’t be like that” or I’ve loved the Muppets for 35 years and, I love frogs. He (Kermit) was my favorite until I met this guy but I’m sorry to say this but I think Constantine might be my best buddy.
Kermit the Frog: No, you know what I totally understand. You guys worked closely together …
Constantine: I have no comment on this.
Miss Piggy: The show’s not over it’s just begun. Ha ha. Hello Kermit.
Kermit the Frog: Well, hi there hi there …
Miss Piggy: … hello Kermit. Whoa, whoa, wait.
Constantine: Yeah, hello pig.
Tina Fey: Hi, hi Miss Piggy. I, we haven’t actually met.
Miss Piggy: I know. We have, we didn’t really do much together on the movie.
Tina Fey: No, you refused to meet me.
Miss Piggy: Hello Tina.
Tina Fey: I, nice, you look so pretty.
Miss Piggy: Aw, thank you. Thank you. Yes, I think you look pretty too.
Tina Fey: Oh, thank you.
Miss Piggy: So—so you’re so far away. I’m sure you look pretty.
What did it do for your street cred to be able to tell everybody that you were working with the Muppets? Becoming close personal friends with the Muppets? Were your kids particularly impressed by you?
Ty Burrell: My kids are still so unimpressed by me. I’m banking this one. I’m gonna, I’ve learned this already from other, any other kids project that it’s if I wanna save my ego I’m gonna bank this. I’m gonna put it out in five years or something. But so far, it’s one minute of—of why is daddy on screen and—and 90 minutes of I’m hungry.
Ricky Gervais: I haven’t got children but when I found out I was doing this film I just went and hung around schools telling ‘em. Just at play time. I said hey kids, you don’t know who I am yet but do you know the Muppets? Oh, yeah you wait, you’re going to be impressed.
Tina Fey: I have four children now. And they’re very excited to see the movie, but as far as me being in it, it’s mostly like “you’re in the poster now, you be Queen Elsa.” They just want me to be either Queen Elsa or Mistress Me.
For—for Tina and Ricky because in the past when you’ve been in this particular hotel it’s been hosting the Golden Globes, are you suppressing an itch right now to make fun of anyone and Tina, since—since Kermit brought it up: The licking scene. On your list of things you want to lick before you die how high was Kermit on that list?
Ricky Gervais: You still do that list?
Tina Fey: Yeah. And I’ve done a bunch of them. I do them, so they still might have the silver, the third rail of the New York subway. Anderson Cooper’s neck is still on the list. To lick Kermit that was pretty high up there on the …
Miss Piggy: Yeah, that’s—that’s the last thing you’re gonna lick sister.
Ricky Gervais: Yes, I have to curb the desire to make fun of celebrities. Yeah, I have about 12 in my head now but I’m being nice. So, yeah I’ll keep it to myself.
Tina Fey: I have so many 12 Years a Slave jokes in my head right now. I can’t believe it. There were so many extra ‘cause it’s so fun to write jokes about that.
I was wondering if you could speak to the musicals and like how it was filming with the musicals compared to the regular dialogue, and Miss Piggy how was it working with Celine Dion?
Miss Piggy: Well, working with Celine Dion it was a pleasure. It was a joy for her naturally. Yes, I’m—I’m only too happy to let her ride my coat tails up to the Oscar stage. Yes, it was a joy. We only spent a little time together but—but it was very meaningful to her.
Miss Piggy: Yes, yes. Vivvy, she made moi a beautiful gown. Yes, made out of recycled plastic bottles. Took a little while to get over that but you know, as they say something, something old, something new, something recycled, something or other.
Kermit the Frog: Well, lucky for me she didn’t get to keep the wardrobe.
Miss Piggy: Well, I could call Viv I’ve got her on Speed Dial …
Kermit the Frog: No, that’s okay. I think it’s probably disintegrated by now. Yeah.
Miss Piggy: I don’t think so. I think the half life for plastic is pretty long. I …
Kermit the Frog: Yeah, what about the half life for a pig frog marriage? I’m not sure about that? I mean come on people.
Miss Piggy: Forever!
Kermit the Frog: I don’t even think it’s legal.
Ricky Gervais: When in the movies, you get married and have children, they’re either pigs or frogs?
Kermit the Frog: Yeah.
Ricky Gervais: Why is there no sort of, you know …
Tina Fey: abomination?
Kermit the Frog: Well, you know we’ve—we’ve never …
Ricky Gervais: … well, yeah . Just like yeah, no. Some sort of a fat green sort of sworkling hoppy greedy pig? Haven’t you worked that out yet?
Miss Piggy: I don’t know …
Kermit the Frog: we haven’t actually consummated the experiment , so, we don’t really know. You know? Yeah, yeah.
Miss Piggy: It was—it was just that was the filmmaker’s visualization alright?
Ricky Gervais: It’s a house of cards.
Muppets Most Wanted Opens March 21.