Follow Us on Twitter

The Muppets - A round table with Kermit & Miss Piggy

The Muppets

Interview by Rob Carnevale

INDIELONDON’S Rob Carnevale was fortune enough to attend an intimate round table gathering with Muppet icons Kermit and Miss Piggy, as well as director James Bobin.

In the ensuing interview they discussed their comeback and new movie, reflected on their past and commented on some of the parodies – both fun and naughty – that have appeared featuring them over the years.

Q. Kermit and Miss Piggy, this film really began with Jason Segel so how much did you know?
Kermit: That’s true, that’s true. Well, I don’t remember the exact timeframe. I do know that I received a script and on page one, on the cover, was ‘The Muppets’, so I thought ‘well that sounds good’. And then I started thumbing through and on about page 20 it said ‘Kermit the frog enters here’ and I knew that I didn’t have to audition. So, I loved it.

Miss Piggy: Well, I think really the movie truly began when I stepped on the set. Yes. I did not read the script beforehand… I don’t really do that with any of my movies. I just walk on and say whatever I feel like. I find that’s the best way to play moi. Nobody can truly capture the essence of moi like moi.

Q. James, is that difficult to work with as a director?
James Bobin: Well, what do you think? Miss Piggy, fortunately, is playing a character in this movie who is not the sort of person she might be in real life because she’s a successful editor of a fashion magazine. Generally, it’s just a question of having a sense of where the scene was heading and after that I just crossed my fingers, frankly.

Q. The story of the movie has some element of truth in that The Muppets are down on their luck and this is their chance to get back into the big time. Was there any sensitivity in portraying The Muppets as…
Kermit: As absolute bottom of the barrel losers?

Miss Piggy: Well, there are moments when that’s the truth. And always will be.

Kermit: There is a certain element of truth. We’ve done a lot of stuff over the years but it has been a really long time since we did a really big film. So, it’s the kind of project that puts you back on the map, you know? It’s not exactly a reboot. We’re still who we are.

Q. How long has it been since the old gang had been together?
Miss Piggy: Not long enough!

Kermit: That’s true, not long enough for Piggy. We work together a lot actually. It’s just we haven’t done anything big enough for you to see probably. We’ve done a bunch of Internet videos and viral videos as well as some TV movies. The Internet stuff is quite good. It’s very reminiscent of sketches on the old Muppet Show.

Q. Miss Piggy, you were an early and prominent feminist icon. Do you feel the movement has lost its way?
Miss Piggy: Oh I don’t know. I’ve never really seen myself as a leader in the feminist movement. I will leave that to others to lead. I really care mostly about myself and promoting my own agenda, not the agenda of any group of people. But I’m certainly flattered…

Q. Kermit, the not easy being green thing you’ve gone through all your life… being green is now incredibly fashionable in politics. Have you thought about representing the green party and moving forward into politics?
Kermit: Well, listen, I love the fact that there is a Green Party. But I don’t think I could actually associate myself with a particular party. I’m kind of a flipper-tarian myself. We believe in taking care of the swamp and more amphibian Americans. That’s us.

Miss Piggy: You’d associate yourself with my party if I had a party, right?

Kermit: Ahh, yeah…

Q. James, do you think it was essential that Rainbow Connection was in the film?
James Bobin: I thought if The Muppets were going to do a live stage show they would always end with Rainbow Connection as their big closing finale. And so it feels perfect for that part of the movie. I’ve always loved that song because for me it sums up a lot of the Muppet philosophy.

Q. And Kermit, what was it like to be joined by a lot of other people for the Rainbow Connection number?
Miss Piggy: It’s a beautiful song and Kermit sings it so wonderfully in the original Muppet movie. But I have to say it’s better now, with my voice. It’s nice as a solo but as a duet I think it’s even more magical.

Kermit: I will say though that classically on The Muppet Show we generally did a lot of closing big numbers with lots of characters and people and singing and guest stars. So, it was sort of a nice way to do it and end the movie.

Q. Will we ever see a return of you guys to regular TV anytime soon?
Kermit: I don’t know, it’s not entirely up to us. We are now a wholly owned subsidiary of a very large corporation. If I had my legs you’d see I’m copyrighted on the bottom of my foot! Of course, that would be wonderful. I really think if we were to bring back The Muppet Show, and this is my personal opinion, I could finally make use of those red curtains I’ve been carrying around for 30 years.

Miss Piggy: I would love to.

Q. James, are there any plans for the future?
James Bobin: Well yeah I hope so. I think the film ends with a half hour new Muppet Show, so it proved we can do it. So, I’d love to think we might get a chance to do that again at some point in the future.

Q. Would you direct?
James Bobin: Maybe…

Kermit: We don’t even know if we’d be starring in it yet!

James Bobin: Exactly! One thing at a time.

Q. Do you miss the old Hollywood when everything wasn’t a part of a corporation?
Kermit: Well, it’s different. Back in those days we were a very small group of folks and we had nobody to answer to like shareholders. I mean, look, I’m not naive. I am a frog in the world. I understand how this stuff works. But right now it’s working very well, so I’m not complaining. Thank goodness Disney has trusted us to do a film, trusted James to direct it, Jason to write it…

Miss Piggy: And listened to me!

Kermit: Yes, Piggy is a personal friend of Rich Ross, who is the head of the studio, so that’s helping a lot.

Q. Piggy, did you have any creative input into the film?
Miss Piggy: Oh, well, no. As I mentioned before, I made up most of my lines.

Kermit: It doesn’t get much more in-putty than that!

Miss Piggy: Yes! I blocked a lot of the scenes. I didn’t really want anyone between moi and the camera, so you’ll notice that usually everyone else is about 200ft behind me.

Q. Kermit and Miss Piggy, what’s the secret to a long-lasting relationship? And Miss Piggy, do you have any advice for single ladies in Ireland about getting a man?
Kermit: Wow, I’m going to let Piggy take that for now.

Miss Piggy: Let’s see… trapping a man! You don’t really want to use a bear trap in most cases. It worked with me and Kermit because he is very skinny and the trap, when it closes, it doesn’t harm the prey.

Kermit: I hope you have an ending for this that doesn’t involve blood!

Miss Piggy: Basically, what I’m saying is that what works for moi won’t necessarily work for everyone else.

Kermit: Well, there you have it… conversation stoppers! Everyone’s thinking.

Q. Miss Piggy, I have a feeling that some reviewers might call your performance hammy. Do you care about what critics think?
Miss Piggy: Yeah, you know what? Nobody’s ever said that!

Q. And the second part of the question is being icons for so long, there are a lot of parodies of The Muppets out there, so do you have any particular favourites?
Miss Piggy: Hmm, first of all, are you a critic?

Q. I guess so, yes…
Miss Piggy: Well, I don’t really care about what you think. Um, the second part of the question…

Kermit: Wow, wow, wow… there have been some parodies that I can’t comment on. It’s very interesting some of the words that they put in our mouths.

Q. How do you feel about that?
Kermit: Well, it’s very clever.

Miss Piggy: Like on the Internet, when they put words in my mouth and make me lip synch things that I never said? Oh, I don’t like that at all.

Kermit: But you know it’s a funny thing. We sort of have been away from the public eye for a little while, so I think in a funny sort of strange way it’s the fans’ way of bringing us back. So, maybe we’ve taken care of that now.

Miss Piggy: It’s true you know that when you’re producing big movies and such and you take the spotlight, it’s hard for other people to take the spotlight away from you with parodies.

Q. Miss Piggy, the diva reputation that you have… divas are usually known for the riders that they do when they have a concert. Do you have specific things on yours?
Miss Piggy: On the movie I did have a tray of cupcakes delivered to my trailer every day with Kermit’s face on them. But I couldn’t eat those. They had your face on them, I couldn’t eat your face. So, I would have another tray of cupcakes sent to my trailer… and those I ate. And then I had a third tray of cupcakes with Amy Adams’ face on them. And those I would chuck at the paparazzi if they got too close.

Q. What does Kermit think about Woody Allen given that he’s such an icon of director James Bobin?
Kermit: I quite like Woody Allen. He sort of almost reminds me of me in a strange sort of way. And just as a side note, I think I knew Mia Farrow before he did. We did a special together. She did the original pilot for The Muppet Show called Sex & Violence.

Q. Your marketing campaign for your film was amazing and featured lots of parodies. Which was your favourite and was there anything you would have liked to have done and didn’t get to do?
Kermit: Well, I should say one of the wonderful things about that particular corporation is that they know how to do that stuff very well. But I quite like the Twilight one where I was the vampire, mostly because I don’t actually have teeth and in that case I got to have fangs.

Q. James, would you do one?
James Bobin: We can’t take credit for those parodies, they were totally brilliant and down to the Disney marketing department. But if I was to do one more, now The Artist has been so successful maybe a silent movie one would be very funny.

Miss Piggy: What? One where I didn’t talk?

Q. You’ve done A Christmas Carol and Treasure Island. Do you have any other big literary classics you’d like to revisit?
Kermit: Wow. Moby Dick would be fun. I’m not sure which part I would play and I’m not sure who’d play the whale. We’d probably open auditions.

Miss Piggy looks across…

Kermit: I didn’t say a word!

Miss Piggy: What? I loved those movies and loved playing the parts I did in them but I much prefer to play moi.

Kermit: I would love to say ‘there she blows’ though.

Q. Miss Piggy, how was your relationship with Amy Adams? You have a duet. Was there ever any conflict over billing or screen time?
Miss Piggy: Oh no, no, no. Moi and Amy did not share a duet. I had a solo. I think that’s what you’re referring to and she sang back-up. She has a wonderful voice for a back-up singer.

Q. What is the most romantic thing that Kermit has ever done for you?
Miss Piggy: Well…

Kermit: Me too… I’m wondering about that myself.

Miss Piggy: The most romantic thing he’s ever done for me? He doesn’t know this but he actually got me this string of pearls.

Kermit: What!?? How do you figure?

Miss Piggy: Well, it was his credit card.

Kermit: It probably was.

Miss Piggy: It was so romantic of you… thank you Kermit.

Kermit: Sign on the line… sure [clears throat].

Q. Were you ever asked to consider making the film in 3D?
Kermit: Well, you know I figure I’m in 3D right now and I’m in 3D every day, so I figure I don’t want the audience to have to work too hard. Plus, those glasses give me such a headache.

Miss Piggy: It is kind of a unique thing for us to be in 2D because we’re in 3D all the time.

James Bobin: There was never really a question. It never came up. We always thought it should be 2D.

Q. One of the main characters in the film, Walter, is a new addition. How difficult was it to integrate a new character into your repertoire? But also, there’s some famous Muppets missing such as Big Bird and Elmo, so what was the reason for that?
James Bobin: Well, Big Bird and Elmo were in Sesame Street.

Kermit: They are wholly owned by someone else! That’s part of it.

Q. And Walter?
Kermit: Well, Elmo wasn’t available so…

James Bobin: Walter is someone who is a fan of the Muppets, so if you didn’t know who The Muppets were you could have Walter introduce you to them. If you were a huge fan of The Muppets, then you actually are Walter in many ways. You feel the way he does about them. And he’s a very sweet guy and he got on very well with Kermit and company.

Miss Piggy: He never messed up my coffee order.

Q. It must be intimidating for a new Muppet to join the ranks?
James Bobin: Yeah, he faints a lot. Have you seen the film? He’s very nervous all the time.

Miss Piggy: Unfortunately, we aren’t that exclusive. I wish we were! More so… but it’s pretty much open arms… anybody who wants to join us….

Read our review of The Muppets

Read what The Muppets had to say at their UK press conference