‘Muppets Now’: What Walter Has Learned From Working With Kermit and the Gang

     July 30, 2020


The world can never have too much of The Muppets in it, and it’s a welcome sight to see the gang back together for Muppets Now, their first unscripted original series for Disney+. With Scooter always rushing to make the deadlines that the Muppets never seem to be able to meet in the most timely of manners, the chaos, silliness and fun that comes with widely varied personalities of all the Muppet characters, big and small, is definitely present, whether it’s in the lifestyle tips from the diva herself Miss Piggy, the zany experiments with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, a game show hosted by Pepe the Prawn, cooking tips from the Swedish Chef, or the calming balance of Kermit the Frog.

To promote this new series, Walter, who was first introduced in the 2011 feature film The Muppets, took time out to chat 1-on-1 with Collider. During the interview, which you can either watch on video or read below, he talked about how Muppets Now is the triple crown of firsts, why the series should just be renamed Muppets Always, what he loves most about being a Muppet, being a big Muppet fan who also gets to peak behind the curtain, what he’s learned from Kermit the Frog, whether he’s seen Gary and Mary since making The Muppets with them, and the possible next step in his career.

Butland-MuppetsNow-Lifestyle with Miss Piggy

Image via Disney

Collider: Hi, Walter!

WALTER: Hi, Christina! How’s it going?

It’s goin’ pretty well.

WALTER: That’s swell.

Congratulations on your first Disney+ TV series! <?b>

WALTER: Oh, my gosh, thank you so much! You know, it’s a triple first? It’s our first unscripted series, it’s our first series for a streaming service, and it’s our first Disney+ original. It’s the triple crown of firsts.

Why was now the right time to get into the streaming business and to do something unscripted? What made now the right time to make Muppets Now?

WALTER: Let me ask you a question, when is it not the right time to make something with the Muppets?

I agree.

WALTER: I mean, seriously! We’ve been waiting a while for this, you know? Muppets Now? How about Muppets Always?

I fully agree.

WALTER: Ah, a kindred spirit. I love that.

What do you love most about being a Muppet?

WALTER: It’s just where I fit. You know, Christina, when you go through your life, it’s really just finding the right place for you. Growing up, I didn’t know where I fit in, really. I couldn’t find my tribe, so to speak. But with these guys, I just feel at home. It’s like breathing.

Since you’re also clearly a Muppet fan, what’s it like to get to peak behind the curtain and get to not only see how they all work, but how different they are from each other?

WALTER: These guys are incredible. That actually has been one of the most incredible things for me. Everybody knows Dr. Teeth, for instance, is really cool, mellow and laid-back, but I learned that he’s also a beekeeper. I’ve been learning these little extra details that, just as a fan on the outside, you don’t really get to see. That’s been most meaningful to me, that I get to know the heart of these fellas.

Gilbey-MuppetsNow-Mup Close and Personal

Image via Disney

What do you feel like you’ve learned from working with Kermit and having his friendship?

WALTER: Oh, wow! Humility. I’ve learned patience. And I’ve learned to stay the heck out of Miss Piggy’s way.

That sounds like good advice!

WALTER: It’s good advice for anyone. And I definitely learned that from Kermit.

In this show, you learn how to photo bomb from Kermit, too, who’s clearly a master at it.

WALTER: Clearly.

What impresses you about Kermit’s photobombing skills, and what are the keys to pulling off a great photobomb?

WALTER: Well, that he can get away with it. He’s so stealthy. I didn’t know that about frogs, but frogs are stealthy. They’re quite stealthy, and slimy. There’s something about the timing of it, and being able to sneak up and somebody and just be in the background. It’s not a gift I yet possess, but I’m working on it.

Have you gotten to see your human friends, Gary and Mary? <

WALTER: No. Those guys got pretty busy. There were some Academy Awards involved somewhere. Speaking of The Muppets, the 2011 film, did you know that I won an Academy Award for “Man or Muppet”? Did you know that?

Well, you should!

WALTER: Well, I did! It won Best Song that year, “Man or Muppet.” Of course, they spelled my name wrong. They spelled it Bret McKenzie.

It’s a fantastic song, so you should fully get credit for that.

WALTER: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

Now that you’ve done this show for Disney+, what’s the next step, in your career? Do you have plans and dreams? What’s the goal for Walter?

WALTER: The goal for me? Gee, you know what? Just more. Just more, more, more. More Muppets. I love these guys. Actually, we do have some things in development like . . . Oh, Joe from Legal said I’m not allowed to talk about that stuff. There’s great things coming, but right now, there’s great things now, and that is Muppets Now.

Which I will be watching. Thank you, Walter! I appreciate you talking to me.

WALTER: Sure!

Muppets Now is available to stream on Disney+ on July 31st.

Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.

Television