I get to meet a lot of cool people for my job, but interviewing Muppets is the best. At first, I may have been trying to stump the Muppets, but their answers to my wildest questions are so good, now I’m only encouraged to keep trying more. For the latest movie, Muppets Most Wanted, I got to speak with Kermit the Frog himself. Picking up right where 2012’s The Muppets left off, literally on the streets
of Hollywood after the finale, Kermit takes The Muppets on a world tour. In Europe, criminal mastermind Constantine switches places with Kermit, sending Kermit into the Gulag while Constantine takes over the Muppets. I got to the bottom of Muppets Most Wanted and other Muppet mysteries when I spoke with Kermit this time.
Kermit: “Hi Ho, Fred.”
Kermit: “Well, hello there. How are you?”
I’m a little nervous because even though this is our fourth interview, you’re the biggest celebrity I’ve ever interviewed.
Kermit: “We have talked before and that’s very sweet of you to say. You know, I have to say that sometimes I’m nervous too but I’ve done about 1700 interviews today, so I am not at all nervous. I’m drinking coffee trying to stay awake. Did you know frogs drink coffee?”
I did not. That’s very informative.
Kermit: “The stronger the better.”
You look so much like Constantine, did you ever consider playing both parts like Eddie Murphy in Norbit?
Kermit: “Yes, it was talked about that I
might play both roles, but there’s a couple reasons. One is that I don’t do a great Russian accent and they would have had to dub my voice. The other is that I have scenes with Constantine and I don’t work well against green screen so we never could’ve made it work.
Do you love sequels as much as I do? Because they call me ‘Franchise Fred’.
Kermit: “Well, this is like our eighth sequel to our first movie. We’ve done so many sequels over the years it’s amazing, and I do love them. I do love them. I have to say that while this obviously is a sequel, it’s just like a continuation of everything we’ve always done with the Muppets. It’s a totally different kind of story. Even though it takes up where the last film we did left off, it’s really a whole new kind of thing.
How did you find the perfect replicas of Amy Adams and Jason Segel’s backs for that first scene?
Kermit: “Well, it’s not easy. It’s not easy. You do back casting. You go out and you line people up in a lineup and you turn them around. Then if they look like the person you’re looking for like Jason and Amy, you have your cast.”
Was the opening song written for the original title of the movie, which was The Muppets Again?
Kermit: “Yes, and that’s why it says that. That’s a little piece of trivia that lots of people won’t know. It was just too much trouble to go dub the movie. We thought, why change the lyrics? It said Muppets Again and The Muppets Again, we thought, ‘Sure, let’s leave it.'”
You have so many great celebrity cameos in all of your movies, but why have you never had Samuel L. Jackson in one?
Kermit: “I don’t know why. We actually toyed with the idea, in an early draft of a script like for the last film, of having Samuel L. Jackson work with us, and I think he would. I think he would fit in well with the Muppets. Funny you should bring him up. Do you know him?”
I wanted to ask, is it because he’s had it with these Motherfuppets?
Kermit: [Laughs] “It’s very possible. That could easily be it. That’s a good question. No, I’d love to work with him. I think he’s amazing.”
I know he has some issues with snakes. I don’t know how he feels about amphibians.
Kermit: “I think he’s okay with frogs. I think he’s okay. I think it’s the poison that’s the issue and I don’t actually secrete any toxins so it would be all right.”
Whatever happened to the Moopets?
Kermit: “Well, they tried to break off and do their own HBO special but it didn’t work out. They just didn’t quite pull it together. Plus, Miss Poogy ended up in jail, so they lost one of their main stars.
Do you ever hold auditions for new Muppets? Because I’m thinking in case this journalism thing doesn’t work out, I might want to try out for you.
Kermit: “Listen, if Walter can do it, you can do it. I’m quite certain if you would like to audition to be one of The Muppets, I will keep you posted. Personally, I will keep you posted. I will let you know when we’re going to hold auditions and you can come and try. I suggest a couple things. You need to learn to walk without bending your knees, and you need to maybe try a big red nose and a couple of floppy ears. I’m sure you’ll nail it.
Good, I have some homework to do now.
Kermit: “Yeah, you can make the ears out of anything. Construction paper…”
I’ve been reading the biography of Jim Henson, who I know you’ve worked with. What did you think of that book?
Kermit: “I have to tell you the honest truth, I have not read the book yet. I do have a copy of it and I’ll have to get back to you on that, but I’m sure it’s going to be filled with things about our past. It’s probably a bit like a yearbook to me.”
Were you ever offered a role in Labyrinth?
Kermit: “No, I wasn’t and it’s a bit of a sticky situation. I was offered the role of Jen in Dark Crystal though. I turned it down because I just felt it needed to be somebody with hair. I could have stuck a wig on, but why?”
What are some of your favorite movies as a frog?
Kermit: “There are so many. My goodness. I love action-adventure movies of all kinds, just because I have an aspiration to be an action movie star. Miss Piggy is kind of trying to prevent me from doing that. She’s afraid I’ll get hurt, but any action movie. Any action movie, I will watch. It can be the silliest, tackiest one. I will still watch it.
Wasn’t there talk of you doing The Kerminator at one point?
Kermit: “There certainly was, there certainly was and I think I could have done it. It was very hard to interest a studio in that film. They said it reminded them too much of some other film done by some guy who’s a politician.”
Did you suggested the song “Together Again Again?”
Kermit: “I think it sort of just fell into place. As we’ve already discussed, there was another movie title. That was also leftover from that.”
But it’s also your great song “Together Again” from The Muppets Take Manhattan.
Kermit: “Well, you know, the best thing about doing songs from movies we did 20 years ago is that I already know the song. It’s not more homework I have to do. I can just walk in and sing the thing. Like last movie, we did sort of a revival of ‘Rainbow Connection.’ It was very, very easy for me.”
I thought Christoph Waltz doing the Waltz was brilliant. What did you think when you heard that idea?
Kermit: “I think it’s great. I think it would’ve been stupid for him to do the Watusi. I mean, his name is Waltz. Waltz. I mean, Chris Watusi makes no sense at all.”
Was it exciting to give Sam Eagle a bigger role?
Kermit: “I am excited about that and because Sam has typically been on the periphery of the Muppets in a way. He hasn’t actually been in there performing with us. He’s always had other roles. Frankly, one of those roles has been to criticize everything we do. It kind of gives us a little bit of negotiating room there when he actually plays a role.”
You actually have at least four stories in this movie and subplots within those stories. Is that the most plot you’ve juggled in a movie?
Kermit: “Well, you know, I’m going to have to do the math. I’m just going to have to sit down and do the math. It’s very high math to figure all that out, but yes. I think that’s very possible and I actually quite like them. I think Ty Burrell is amazing in this film. I love the fact that I got to work so closely with Tina Fey in sort of a separate part of the film. She’s wonderful, and of course Ricky Gervais is also truly amazing with the rest of the Muppets. I think it’s a really wonderful use of our stars.”
Did being back in England bring back any Great Muppet Caper memories?
Kermit: “It did, it did. Being back in England brought back many, many memories. I saw lots of old friends. It’s fair to say that the food hasn’t changed at all. It’s just as yucky as it was back then, and in many cases I really feel that it was not only the same craft service at the table, I think it was the same food. I don’t think they ever changed it out. It’s hard to tell the difference.”
I could really relate to the theme of what happens when Constantine takes over the show, because in my work as a journalist, I still have an editor making the ultimate decisions. Is it important for people in showbiz to not always get every idea they pitch?
Kermit: “Yeah, I think some ideas just shouldn’t be made. I think many of them get made that maybe shouldn’t get made. It’s like in this movie, Gonzo wants to do his stunts and the band wants to play a three hour jam session and stuff like that. You have to have somebody objective to let you know when it’s time to pull back. It’s like when we were trying to cast Constantine, I had no clue. I couldn’t own that decision because I think there’s no resemblance between us at all. I had to get very objective and ask other people’s opinion. We ended up doing like a police line-up with frogs and eventually we brought in enough frogs that Miss Piggy could not recognize me, and we knew we had the right guy.”
It’s called suspension of disbelief. There’s no special effect powerful enough to really make you look like Constantine.
Kermit: “No, it’s not possible, plus I don’t work on green screen. It would never work out.”
Was part of Walter’s journey from the last movie to really blend into the supporting cast this time?
Kermit: “I think so, I think so and Walter is a wonderful whistler. I do not want to take that away from him, but how long can you last if you can only whistle. So I am looking for another job for Walter. I want to find something for him to do within the Muppets that just gives him a unique role. I hate to do this to you. I am actually being called away. I am calling you from The Beverly Hilton where I have a small room and Miss Piggy is in the shower. I hear her squealing, and while that may sound like something she would do, I think I better go check.”
Okay, I’ll let you go. Kermit, I hope we can keep doing this for the next movie and maybe for the DVD release.
Kermit: “Me too. Absolutely, you do the deep hard hitting questions.”
I do my research.
Kermit: “Yes, you do. Thank you, very much. I hope you enjoyed the movie.”
Of course I did. I’m Franchise Fred!
Kermit: “Of course you do.”