Opening this weekend in limited release is director Jerusha Hess’ comedy Austenland. The film stars Keri Russell as a woman in her 30s who is so obsessed with the Pride and Prejudice character Mr. Darcy that no real-life man can compare, and her love life pays the toll. She decides to spend her life savings on a trip to a Jane Austen-themed resort in England. Once there, she quickly realizes that finding the perfect Regency-era gentleman may be much more of a challenge than she ever could have imagined. The film also stars Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, Rupert Vansittart, James Callis, and Bret McKenzie as the male love interest.
At the recent Los Angeles press day, I landed an extended video interview with McKenzie. During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about making Austenland, his Sundance experience, how it feels to be an Oscar winner (he won for writing a song for The Muppets movie), the upcoming Flight of the Conchords tour with Dave Chappelle, The Hobbit movies, what he collects, and more. In addition, McKenzie talked about Muppets Most Wanted, the songs, if he has seen a rough cut, his relationship with Disney, and future projects – revealing he’s writing a fairy tale comedy musical similar to Labyrinth. Hit the jump to watch.
- How it feels to be an Oscar-winner and how it affects him while writing the Muppets sequel soundtrack.
- 2:00 – Talks about the Sundance experience for Austenland.
- 2:50 – Talks about how he got involved with the project.
- 4:00 – Not much changed from script to screen, but Jennifer Coolidge improvised a lot.
- 6:30 – Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords is the actor best able to make McKenzie on set.
- 7:50 – Plans for the comedy tour with Dave Chappelle.
- 10:50 – McKenzie’s character is not in the Hobbit sequels.
- 11:50 – He’s seen a rough cut of Muppets Most Wanted. They’ll finish the songs after he returns from the tour.
- 12:50 – There are about six or seven songs in the sequel.
- 13:15 – Miss Piggy does a ballad. Ricky Gervais does a song with Kermit.
- 15:00 – There was more educational time on the first movie to learn the history of the Muppets and how they work. The first one was more nostalgic. The second is more of a caper.
- 15:55 – McKenzie didn’t get to spend much time on set.
- 16:30 – Estimates he has “half a dozen song ideas” that didn’t get used for The Muppets.
- 17:10 – Talks about how a Muppets song comes together.
- 18:20 – Talks about his relationship with Disney now.
- 19:30 – McKenzie collects old keyboards. The oldest is from the 1970s.
- 20:55 – The Muppets post-production comes after the tour. He’s also writing a fairy tale comedy musical similar to Labyrinth.