The fact is, Kermit has every reason to be standoffish. After all, he’s been famous around the world since the 1970s, and no matter where he goes, people want to talk to him. And while that kind of popularity might make some of his colleagues difficult to be around (Miss Piggy), the thing about Kermit is no matter who you are or what you do, he treats you with the same respect and is always willing to talk. It’s one of the reasons why Kermit is one of my favorite actors in any medium.
During a break in filming The Muppets sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, I got to participate in a group interview with Kermit at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. He talked about becoming an action hero, Miss Piggy’s diva antics, how the sequel compares to previous Muppet adventures, whether they ever considered having him play the role of Constantine (the villain of the sequel that happens to look a lot like Kermit), what it was like working with Tina Fey, the new musical numbers, and so much more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
KERMIT: We’re on the set of the sequel. Uh, but you already said that. Well, here we are at Union Station. This is the second half of a scene that we shot the other half in England, and it’s great to be doing a kind of a sequel. Of course, it’s hard to call it a sequel since we’ve like nine films over the years, but it’s kind of a sequel to the last one. We’re having a great time.
What’s different about this Muppet film compared to the ones before?
KERMIT: There are many differences. One particular one — may I talk about my own role? I am once again returning as Kermit the Frog, a part that I was born to play, and what’s cool about it though this time is I actually at the end of the film, I’m sort of like an action hero. You will see me do things you haven’t seen me do before. Quite seriously. I’m kind of like a cross between James Bond and something Bruce Willis would do.
Did you have to train for that?
KERMIT: A little bit, a little bit. I had to train to be more serious. It’s whole different kind of acting when you’re playing those different kinds of action hero roles, like hanging on the bottom of helicopters and fun stuff like that.
This movie, the villain is Constantine, who happens to look exactly like you. Did you ever consider playing a dual role and playing both parts?
KERMIT: We talked about it, but I have to admit I’m not great at doing the accent that Constantine does. Constantine kind of has a European, Russian sort of accent, and by the way, Constantine is just one of my cousins from the swamp. So he just happens to have the right facial features for the role.
What can you tell us about working with Tina Fey, because I understand that she gets kinda the hots for Kermit?
KERMIT: Yes. I don’t want to embarrass Tina — I love her, and we had a great time together — I think that’s only on camera. You know, she’s married woman. Besides, Ms. Piggy might read this, and you never know what could happen.
Speaking of Miss Piggy, I hear that it’s heating up a little between the two of you in this movie. Is that true?
KERMIT: Heating up — well, I don’t want to give the whole story away. There’s a lot of heat whenever Miss Piggy and I are on screen. I’m not gonna tell you too much about that, because it turns out that it’s kind of a mistake that happens in the movie. I little bit of a tomfoolery I will say.
Can you talk about working with Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell?
KERMIT: Well, I can. Ricky is wonderful. I think he will probably become an honorary Muppet. He’s kind of our size and very funny and greta playing opposite all us guys. We tend to be very broad actors. Ricky is very economical in his comedy. Tina was fantastic. I can’t imagine anybody else having played the role of sort of the mistress of the Gulag. As Tina put it, her character Nadya loves prison, so it’s a little strange. She does a number that reminds very much me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And Ty — Ty’s wonderful. He’s insane, actually. He’s very conservatively insane. So we loved it. And we loved working with those guys, and all the other guys who worked with us as well.
What’s been your favorite location?
KERMIT: Upper Heyford. Yes, yes, Upper Heyford. It was ten below zero in the windchill, and we were outside all night. And I am a semi-naked frog, so yeah, it was quite an experience, like the Polar Plunge.
You mentioned your cousin from the swamp’s been cast in this movie. Any chance will see Robin, and how’s he doing?
KERMIT: Robin has a cameo in the movie. Robin is now going to school. He hasn’t aged in the last forty-three years, he’s still five, so he wasn’t really available while we were shooting, and he does have a small cameo. I think you might see a moment of him.
KERMIT: I hope that’s true. It’s a funny thing; we have to do these films, you know, we like people to sit in the theater seats, but we sure have a lot of fun when we do them. And this one, I think it’s even more fun than the last one, for me, and I hope that that translates onto the screen. I guess if it does, maybe we’ll do a third one. We’ll see what happens.
Do people stop you in the street and say, “You’re Kermit the Frog! You played Kermit the Frog!”
KERMIT: No, they say, “Hey, little short guy, get out of the way!” I’m often confused for a green fire hydrant. I have to be very careful. No, it’s great being an eighteen to twenty-four inch tall celebrity. You can just slip through the crowds and people leave you alone.
Can you talk about the musical numbers in this new film, and do you have a special one you like the best?
KERMIT: We did a number called “The Big House,” which is actually Tina Fey’s big number, and she sings this song where she’s welcoming me to prison. And I have to say, I was meant to act as though I’m kinda depressed about that, but it was hard to do because it’s such a fun song. And I think people will see a side of Tina they haven’t seen before. She’s really wonderful.
I noticed that Miss Piggy wasn’t in the scene that you guys were just filming. Is she kinda a diva on set? Is that why she’s not here for the scene?
KERMIT: Yeah, sort of. I guess I could tell you guys this: we had a little trouble getting her out of her trailer this morning. She didn’t wanna come out, it was raining, and she thought she might melt or something, I don’t know. I don’t think she’s here today. We shot her half of the scene back at a place called Blue Bell in England, so she didn’t have to show up. So she’s probably sleeping in her trailer.
This is the second movie with Walter. Can you talk about working with him again, and does he have a smaller role in this?
KERMIT: No, actually, it’s kinda cool. I guess he’s not quite the center of attention, but he’s sort of joins the group, which tends to happen to Muppets who make a debut. They either stick around or we put them in a drawer. And Walter was such a big hit, and everybody loved him, and so we wanted him to be a part of everything. He plays the same sort of spot in the Muppets as Scooter, so we have to find certain things for him to do so they’re not the same guy.
KERMIT: It’s not actually addressed. We’re moving on from where we left off in the last movie, so Gary and Mary — that they played — just aren’t a part of this particular story. It’ll all come clear in the first scene. You’ll immediately know.
You mentioned you can sneak through a crowd, but when you’re filming out in public like this, what’s the reaction like from fans? Are they very excited to see you guys filming?
KERMIT: I think so. Like here on this train platform, I see people on the other side snapping pictures like crazy. There’s no telling what you’ll see. It’s kind of hard to have security in the public like that, but I think so. It’s great to meet our fans. We don’t often get the chance to do it, ‘cause we work at a studio, you know? People come up to us all the time, and they usually like our work. Some people don’t.
What’s your worst fan experience?
KERMIT: Oh, wow. Worst fan experience. I don’t think I’ve had any really bad ones. No, I could make a big pun joke out of that, but truthfully, we love our fans, and I’m always happy to see them around.
I’m curious if we’re going to be seeing the Muppet Theater in the sequel.
KERMIT: Are you gonna see that? Let me think back, let me think back, let me think back. You’re gonna see other theaters where the Muppets are playing their show, but not actually the Muppet Theater. As I say, we start this movie right where the last one left off, and it moves on from there. So no, actually, you don’t see the Muppet Theater. We move on.
I see a bunch of the Muppets being carried by humans to this black contraption over here. What’s going on inside the black contraption? It looks like a closet.
KERMIT: Yes, that’s sort of like on Star Trek, where they put you inside that thing and they zap you back to Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s a one way ticket, but it saves the Fed Ex, you know?
KERMIT: We did. I think there is probably actually a little less of that this time. This is less about reminding people who we were in the past, and moving us forward again, which is very cool. It’s easy to call it a caper, but not like the Muppet Caper. It’s actually just a more wacky story where the Muppets are trying to stay out of trouble. There’s a quite a lot of trouble that we find we’re getting into, so it’s really more of a narrative kind of story.
You’ve worked with this group for so many years, and they still are kind of a rambunctious group. Obviously you guys are like family, but how do you keep this connection going between all of you?
KERMIT: Some of us see each other when we’re not working. Many of us go our separate ways. I always go back to the swamp, Piggy goes to Rodeo Drive for holiday. It’s interesting. With the Muppets, I sort of have to take care of things — make sure we get where we’re going, all that stuff. Rambunctious is a good word. Just the interstate permits alone to carry livestock. Imagine taking Sweetums and Thog to London — it’s like a quarantine thing. It’s quite a lot of coordination.
Do you have to cater The Muppet Show to different international audiences, or is it the same show everywhere?
KERMIT: I mean, frankly, we try to have catering wherever we go. It’s very important. We’re quite late on lunch today I think, but I’m all in favor of catering.
Here’s more from my Muppets Most Wanted set visit:
- 14 New Behind-the-Scenes Image from MUPPETS MOST WANTED
- 30 Things to Know About MUPPETS MOST WANTED From Our Set Visit
- Miss Piggy Talks Romance, Working with “Extras” Like Tina Fey and Ricky Gervais, Her Solo, and More on the Set of MUPPETS MOST WANTED
- Walter Talks His Role in the Sequel, His Kermit Watch, Working with Ricky Gervais, and More on the Set of MUPPETS MOST WANTED
- Producer Todd Lieberman Talks Casting Ricky Gervais, the Sequel’s Connection to the First Film, the Music, and More on the Set of MUPPETS MOST WANTED