“The Muppets” opens on November 23rd and this has been a labor of love for writer and star Jason Segel. We were lucky enough to get a chance to chat with him about his favorite episode of “The Muppet Show,” the challenges of getting tiny puppets in a scene with a 6’4″ actor and Frank Oz‘s comments on the film. Also, for the record, we love this film!
Segel, who told us he has 50 puppets at home, talked about what it meant to be doing this film. “It’s the coolest thing ever. You know, there’s the scary period of when you’ve finished filming and now you’re like, oh boy. Now we’re going to see if we did it. And you wait through editing and all that. But then I saw the movie and I cried. I cried hard at the first screening. It’s just so lovely. I really am proud of it. I’m so excited.”
He told us his favorite episode of “The Muppet Show” was the one with Peter Sellers. “The opening monologue … I did not understand it at all as a kid. And no kid at all would understand. Scooter is like, “Five minutes to curtain Mr. Sellers.” Peter Sellers is there in a Viking helmet and he says, “Well, what should I do out there, Scooter?” And Scooter is like, “All you have to do is be yourself, sir.” And Peter Sellers is like, “But who is Peter Sellers? I lost the real Peter Sellers some time ago, dwelling in one of my parts and he never quite returned.” He literally launches into an existential crisis that, as a huge Peter Sellers fan when I got older, when I re-watched it, was true! He was talking to a psychiatrist on ‘The Muppet Show’ on television, surrounded by Muppets.”
We asked if he’d like to reboot the television show. “I’d love that,” he said. “I would love it. I think the Muppets belong on the big screen, but “The Muppet Show” was so good. I think it would do great now if they rebooted it.”.
He talked about the first moment he was on set with all the Muppets. “It was unbelievable,” he said, “and also we realized how daunting it was going to be logistically, because I’m huge. I’m 6’4″ and these Muppets are tiny. And when we were looking at the logistics of it, I realized I was going to have to sit a lot. I was going to have to be in the background of shots a lot, for forced perspective. So it wasn’t like, in every frame, my head is cut off … but it was so exciting. We made almost an exact replica of the “The Muppet Show” theater. Even the puppeteers got chocked up when they walked out, because a lot of them had worked on the show.”
So, are Miss Piggy and Kermit star crossed lovers? (Try not to picture that. Too late? Sorry.) Segel said, “They are together off screen. There’s no scandal there. They’re just playing characters. Off screen they’re a proper couple. I mean, it’s tumultuous, but they’re together.”
He also commented about Frank Oz’s negative comments about the film, which he had yet to see. “I saw his comments, which made me sad. But he hadn’t seen the movie yet. I just have no doubt that when he sees the movie, he’ll be really proud of all of us. I’m not particularly worried about it. I wish he had seen the movie before he made his comments, but I understand being nervous about some new blood coming in that you don’t know and kind of taking over something that you created. But I think he’s going to be really proud of this movie.” Jason, we do too.