I was worried I wasn’t going to get to interview the Muppets this time around, since the press junket for Muppets Most Wanted conflicted with South by Southwest. Luckily, our sources at Walt Disney Studios were able to put me on the phone with both Muppets head honcho Kermit the Frog and the newest Muppet, Constantine.
As we learn in Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine is a master criminal who switches
places with Kermit the Frog. Constantine does martial arts, and it seems every time he walks away from a scene something exploded. His English is still a tad broken, so I wanted you to enjoy exactly what it’s like talking to Constantine in this interview. Any grammar mistakes are completely intentional.
Does everything you walk away from explode?
Constantine: “Only the things that I have wired to do so. Not everything. Telephones, walls, sometimes a chicken. Whatever I’m feeling should be blown up.”
Which martial arts do you practice?
Constantine: “I practice Kung Fu and Kung Pao Chicken and also just Tai Chi, just a little gentle Tai Chi just to calm myself and keep myself centered.”
Is that what they mean when they refer to mixed martial arts?
Constantine: “Yes, that is correct.”
Was this a really competitive audition for the role in Muppets Most Wanted?
Constantine: “Well, you know, Fred, I didn’t have to audition for this role. The call went out they were looking for evil Russian frog named
Constantine and I said, ‘Hey, I am evil Russian frog named Constantine.’ So I answered the call, met Kermit the Frog and director James Bobin. He said, ‘Hey, you two look alike.’ I said I didn’t see resemblance. He said, ‘Read these lines.’ I did. He said, ‘Can you sound like Kermit Frog?’ I said, ‘Yes, I sound exactly like Kermit Frog.’ He said, ‘Let me hear.’ I did my imitation and I got the job.”
What was your first meeting with Kermit like?
Constantine: “It was very nice. We sat down for little fly appetizer with a tea. We just talk about the role. He say, ‘You can be bad guy?’ I said yes. He said, ‘You can pretend not to like pig?’ I said, ‘That is easy. I do not like pig.’ And that was it. We had nice, good working relationship.”
Well, we’ve never seen you before so where did you train?
Constantine: “I get all of my training in Gulag. There is acting class that we have on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. It is Danny Trejo. He is the instructor for the acting class and I am his top pupil.”
Danny Trejo is very prolific. That’s what he does on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?
Constantine: “Yes, I do not know how he fits it into his schedule.”
We know that Kermit lives in a swamp and also has a nice mansion. Where do Russian frogs live?
Constantine: “I cannot tell you, Fred, where I live because I am on run from authorities. I have lived in many different places. I come from pond in Moscow but that is only where I begin. I have stayed in back alleys. I have stayed from back alleys to the nicest hotel. I am sitting right now in lovely hotel room that I am thinking about stealing and staying here overnight or for as long as I can before they kick me out. I cannot say where I come from exactly. I cannot tell you my address. The authorities would be all over that, Fred.”
When you leave this hotel room, do you think you might blow it up?
Constantine: “No, I would not do that. I cannot do that. Not here. There would be no purpose to do that. I must always have a reason to blow something out. It is usually because I do not want to have my flipper prints to be traced. So if I pick up a pay phone and I make phone call with a nefarious plan with Number Two, then perhaps I kaboom. For example, after this phone call, kaboom. This phone is gone.”
I’m honored you would blow up the phone from our interview.
Constantine: “They will bring another phone in right away because they expect this from me. It’s the seventh I have blown up today and they’re just kind of used to it now. We have a thing.”
Have you gotten the showbiz bug now that you’ve worked with the Muppets?
Constantine: “I had a showbiz bug yesterday for lunch. It was delicious. I probably will have it again this week. Is that what you mean? You mean the little luncheon thing that you get when you go to the restaurants?”
Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
Constantine: “Oh good, I didn’t want to misinterpret you.”
As a follow up question, what is your future with the Muppets?
Constantine: “I do not know. Whatever Kermit tell me to do I will do. He kind of runs the show. As much as I like to say that I am number one, Kermit Frog, he is the big boss. He is the big guy. He is the top dog. He is the one that says, ‘You got to go do this now.’ If I am not busy evilly plotting, then I am happy to do whatever he needs me to do. If it is YouTube video, fine. If he wants me to go and intimidate someone, I would be happy to do this for Kermit.”
What are you going to wear to the premiere of Muppets Most Wanted?
Constantine: “Just what I usually wear which is my smug little face. That is it. A snarl, little ugly, very frowny looking face probably, and a mole. I do not have a designer tuxedo if that is what you’re asking. Maybe we can get the word out there and then I will wear whatever. You’ve given me good idea, Fred. I will hold you responsible as my accomplice for this.”
I would love to. If we can get the word out, who are some designers you would like to hook you up for the premiere?
Constantine: “I like Target. That’s pretty much it because I like this design.”
I should tell you, in America it’s pronounced Tar-Jay.
Constantine: “Oh, I figured that but I didn’t want to seem too international.”
What do you think is going to happen to Number Two now?
Constantine: “You mean Ricky Gervais? I think he will make a good successful career out of whatever it is that he does. I hear that he has done other things in past. He has told me many, many, many, many times that he does a lot of things and he’s a big deal.”
Is this your first time in Los Angeles?
Constantine: “Yes, I believe this is first time I’ve been here officially. I did hop on an airplane once when I was in my younger years, just to see what it was like inside the belly of airplane. It is very cold, but I am okay with this.”
We’ll only talk about your official experience. What are your impressions of Los Angeles this time?
Constantine: “Well, to be honest, Fred, all I have seen is inside of hotel room, but I am hoping to go out to do a little tour to see where all of the big Hollywood stars live. That sounds like what you’re supposed to do when you come to Hollywood, right? Then I’m going to take in the premiere and then I’m going to try to steal something but I don’t know what it is. Maybe I will steal a couple of shows, a couple of sitcoms. You know, I will go on, make guest appearance, steal the show from the Modern Families or the Mike & Mollys or any other shows, 60 Minutes. I could go on there.”
Did you have any musical training? How did you like singing the duet?
Constantine: “I have no musical training. I am all natural. I work with Bret McKenzie and he said, ‘I don’t need anything to do with you. You are wonderful on your own, Constantine.’ And I said yes and then I let go of his arm because I was twisting it to make him say nice things about me. But he was good, and then to sing the Number One/Number Two song with Ricky Gervais was one of most wonderful thing I have ever done in my long illegal career.”
Well, Constantine, I hope we see a lot more of you and thank you for talking with me. Say goodbye to this phone for me because I know it’s gone.
Constantine: “Thank you. It is now time to blow it up. Goodbye, Fred. Three, two, one…”