A Web Exclusive with Kermit and Co.

The Muppets are back after a long break from the big screen, to stage the mother of all comebacks in Jason Segel's passion project, The Muppets.  To talk about the ins and outs of working with everyone's favourite felt-covered friends, director James Bobin, Kermit the Frog and the infamous queen diva, Miss Piggy, joined STUDIO for a press conference.  Miss Piggy was, of course, late.


Kermit was his usual delightful self and was full of enthusiasm for the online campaign for the Muppets to host the Oscars, while James revealed his delight at the Oscar nomination the film received for Best Original Song.


The panel is moderated by Chris Hewitt.


Kermit, it's been a long time since you've made a film, did you still get along with all your old friends? And James, have you made any new ones?

Bobin: "Well I hope so.  I grew up watching The Muppet Show, when I was younger, and those guys felt like friends even then.  Now to have actually met them I really hope we are actual real friends."


Kermit: "Of course we are.  That's wonderful.  We all made new friends on this film, and that's always the best part of being with The Muppets.  It is always wonderful to get back together with all the gang, all the different personalities, their little quirks.  I love it."



Jack Black was a fantastic guest star in the movie, is there anyone else – past or present – you would love to work with, and why?

Bobin: "I've always liked the idea of The Muppets and Radiohead working together.  One day that will happen, I promise you."


Kermit: "Wow, that is a tough question.  I've worked with a lot of people...."


Bobin: "You've worked with absolute legends in your time."


Kermit: "They were legends, yeah.  Unfortunately many of them are not with us anymore.  But I suppose, you know what I'm going to say I'm fine with who I work with because I got to work with Jason Segel and Amy Adams and of course James, and Chris Cooper, and some wonderful, wonderful performers. I'm just going to be happy with who I have there."


Kermit, why do you think The Muppets have retained such immense popularity over the decades that you've worked here?

Kermit: "You know, that's a great question.  If we knew the secret of that we'd have been back before 12 years.   I think it's probably, and James can elaborate on this too, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we stayed true to who we are, and yet we tried to evolve with the times.  We've never been interested in becoming background guys who would turn into CG, we've always wanted to be real, in a real world.  Let me give you an example.   If you were talking to me and I was, say, Woody from Toy Story, this would be your interview [Kermit ducks out of sight].   So it's nice that we can be here."


Bobin: "For me, and Kermit cover your ears here..."


Kermit: "I don't have any, but okay."


Bobin: "Plug the holes.  I think it's because they're not very good at what they do.  You've got to really root for them because of that.  They're the perennial underdogs.  But they really try very hard and that's very lovely."


James, as a Muppet fan how did you get to the position of directing them, and how thrilling was it to work with them for the first time?

Bobin: "It was amazing, obviously.  I grew up watching them here in England, and I remember watching them aged four in front of my grandma's TV, a big old wooden box TV, so to actually not only meet them but maybe write lines and have Kermit and Piggy say lines you wrote is just incredible.  But the story of how I got here is very prosaic; I literally got an e-mail from my agent asking if I liked The Muppets.  And I sent an e-mail back saying 'Yes of course, who doesn't like The Muppets?'.  So it was very straightforward, but I'm thrilled to be here."


Kermit: "I've just realised that someone has arrived."



Enter Miss Piggy to rapturous applause...



So how difficult is it for all of you to work with The Swedish Chef?  Are there any language barriers?

Bobin: "I've actually no idea what he's doing at all times.  He's fine."


Kermit: "There are a number of The Muppets that you sort of just have to let them do whatever it is they do and hope it fits in...."


Miss Piggy: "I don't mind working with the Swedish Chef, I just don't want to eat any of his food."


There's been quite a lot of talk that Uggy, the canine performer from The Artist, should be nominated for awards.  Do you think it's about time other species were nominated, and do you have any favourites for this year's Oscar race?

Kermit: "Well abso-blooming-lutely."


Miss Piggy: "Thank-you for bringing that issue up."


Kermit: "It's very important to us."


Miss Piggy: "For some reason the Academy does not recognise other species than humans as actors, as artists, as talent."


Kermit: "They're very species-ist.  Anyway, thank-you, if you have any pull with them please put our names in the pot."


Who's naughtier, Animal or Jack Black?

Miss Piggy: "I am!"


Kermit: "They're naughty in different ways.  Jack Black is Jack Black.   Animal is not so much naughty as sort of ADD.  As James will attest, if you can get him to stay on his mark you're fine."


Miss Piggy: "Animal's not really trying to get into trouble, he just does.


Kermit, having begun your career as a roving reporter for Sesame Street News, do you miss journalism?

Kermit: "Well I do, I still have my trench coat in a bag with mothballs all around it.  I'd love to get back into that, maybe in connection with the [London] Olympics.  I could cover leapfrog.  I'd love to cover the next presidential election because boy, that's going to be a doozy.  So we'll see what happens.


Kermit, the film has been warmly received, but how did you feel when someone on Fox News accused it of pushing a dangerous liberal agenda, and trying to brainwash children?

Kermit: "It's so dangerous.  It's a funny thing, they were concerned about us having some prejudice against oil companies and I can tell you that's categorically not true.  And besides if we had a problem with oil companies why would we have spent the entire film driving around in a gas guzzling Rolls Royce?


Miss Piggy: "It's almost as laughable as accusing Fox News of being, you know, News.


What are the secrets to a good relationship, such as yours?

Kermit: "Compliance. I find that works very well."


Miss Piggy: "It works for me."


And also Miss Piggy, you are Plus Size editor for Paris Vogue....

Miss Piggy: "No, no, no, no, no, no.  Moi is not plus size, the editor is not plus size, the department she edits is plus size.  But go ahead, what is your question?


What trends do you think will be coming up that the plus size girls will be wearing?

Miss Piggy: "I think everyone, next winter, will be wearing coats.  You heard it here first."


Kermit: "That is an edgy prediction."


Miss Piggy, how do you stay looking so youthful?

Miss Piggy: "Me, thank-you so much. I just decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to get any older. Ageing wasn't for me."


James, let's talk about the songs in the movie, and an Oscar nomination.

Bobin: "I wanted this film to be very much a comedy musical, and I had a good friend who was good at comedy and music so therefore it was a pretty obvious choice to ask him to write some songs. I felt the songs should be like the film is, a tribute to the heritage of The Muppets but also very contemporary in their feel.  So something like Man or Muppet ticks both those boxes.  I'm really pleased for him because he's a very humble, modest man and for him to have the potential to have an Oscar in his house.  And also he has a 50% chance of winning the Oscar, which is just unbelievable. I'm thrilled for him.


What are the unusual aspects of working with The Muppets? And was it difficult getting any human cast members to agree to be in it?

Bobin: "No, it was really a very pleasurable experience, asking people to do the film.  We asked Amy on a video, Jason and Kermit made a video where they say in chairs and talked to her about doing the movie.  I think once Kermit asks you to do something you can't say no, so she said yes.  And in terms of the difference, obviously there's a few differences because the Conchords are six foot tall and these guys can be a little smaller sometimes, so my life can be a little tricky.  Technically there are some complications because of the nature of the job."


Kermit and Miss Piggy, can you describe what it was like working with James?

Kermit: "It was wonderful.  James is a very merry soul."


Miss Piggy: "Yes, he took direction very well."


Kermit: "And we actually did The Muppet Show here, at Elstree, many, many years ago and one of the things that we slightly missed over the last few years was a British sensibility.  And it was nice to have that from James."


Who were your big idols growing up?

Miss Piggy: "Besides myself?"


Kermit: "When I was growing up I was in the swamp, where the culture there was a little different, it was more like a culture, you know, like in a Petri dish.  But the first time I went to the movies, one of the first films I ever saw was The Wizard Of Oz, which inspired me.   It sort of sent me down a Yellow Brick Road so to speak, on a path to rainbows."


Miss Piggy: "I really love the screen legends; Garbo, Marilyn and Dietrich.  I feel like I am a continuation of that legacy."


Bobin: "I always used to love the films of Woody Allen, I've always loved those.  They are something which stand the test of time.  I love them."


There are loads of great cameos in the film, were celebrities beating down the door to be in the film, or did you have specific people in mind? And Kermit and Miss Piggy did you have any favourites among them?

Bobin: "There's a great tradition in Muppet films of making cameos, and we had a very clear idea of who we wanted.  And it was that brilliant thing that pretty much everyone was asked said yes. Not only yes, but 'thank-you for asking us,' and 'can I bring my kids along as well please,'.  So it was really lovely, often on set there was a whole load of kids watching us work.  They'd meet Kermit and Piggy, and that's a lovely environment to work in."


Kermit: "Hard to pick a favourite, because they were all really wonderful and great to work with."


Miss Piggy: "For me it's hard to pick because I didn't really work with any of them. I did most of my scenes on green screen.  I work better that way."


Kermit and Piggy, there was an online campaign to get you to host the Oscars....

Miss Piggy: "Yes, which I started."


Is it something you'd consider for the future?

Kermit: "Well sure, we'd have to be asked of course, we can't just barge in.  Billy Crystal's doing it.  He's one of our best friends, and of course we didn't cut him out of the film until after he took the Oscar job.  It would be wonderful, but who knows.  With the song being nominated maybe we'll join in and help sing it or something."


Bobin: "They'd be brilliant hosts of course, but I think they'd rather be there picking them up [rather] than giving them out."


Miss Piggy: "I just don't right being a part of an institution that continues to ignore the contributions of pig actors."


You'd been going for 50 years; can you talk a little about the Muppets phenomenon?

Kermit: "Well we've been here for 20 minutes, that's as phenomenal as it gets."


Hewitt: "Did you say phenomenon?"


Audience: "Doo Doo Doo-Doo Doo."


Kermit: "Boy are we ready."



Words by Emily Moulder.


The Muppets opens in cinemas February 10th.

"We all made new friends on this film, and that’s always the best part of being with The Muppets. It is always wonderful to get back together with all the gang." - Kermit
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