Kermit & Miss Piggy interview: Muppets, Statham, Dudley
We talk to Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy about Muppets, the Midlands, and Jason Statham...
Arriving in UK cinemas on Friday is the eighth cinematically released Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted. And to celebrate, we got the rarest of honours: an audience with Miss Piggy and Kermit The Frog (there were other human beings in very close proximity to them, by the names of Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson, but you're not allowed to converse with them directly. Given the magnetic pull of the icons of their icons, that's an easy request to cede to).
Without further ado, here's how we got on...
For some reason, utterly unbeknownst to me, American movie goers haven't taken to your film in the numbers they should.
Piggy: Give them time...!
Kermit: We're working on it.
Well what I thought we could do was work out a few more future movie projects that might win them back over.
Kermit: Okay, okay.
So, for instance, a Miss Piggy origins movie is surely crying out to be done. They did it for Wolverine...
Kermit: Yeah, yeah.
Piggy: It's true, yes. That would be great.
But you are a lady of secrets. How much of your story are you willing to reveal on the big screen?
Piggy: Look, it's a movie. We can dress it up a little bit. We can make it up!
So The Pig Lebowski, something like that?
Kermit: I like that! The Pig Lebowski! I'm surprised I didn't think of that.
Well, you start the new movie off with pitches of possible movies. Which were the ones you didn't fit into that song?
Kermit: Now, let's see, what didn't we get in?
Piggy: Well, there was the disaster movie, where the world ends and we get married.
Kermit: Yeah, that's true, that's true.
Piggy: And live happily ever after.
Kermit: We have a post-apocalyptic marriage. Yes.
If you're going for your Oscar movie, you'd have the divorce and the coming back together, then the searing heart-breaking drama?
Kermit: That's a valid point. I suppose you couldn't do a divorce film unless you did a marriage film.
Piggy: Yes. Kermit! Let's get divorced!
Kermit: Yeah, let's skip straight to that.
Piggy: You see, if I get him to agree to divorce me...
Kermit: ... oh I see...
Piggy: Then we have to get married first!
Kermit: So I have to be put into a marriage situation first. I see, I see.
Do you have lots of riches Kermit, that Piggy can take in the divorce settlement?
Kermit: Nooooooo! It's just my little pad in the swamp. She won't get much.
Piggy: I don't even want half of that.
Obviously you've come back to England in this film. I'm from the Midlands, and if you're looking to go a bit grittier, why not try The Muppets Take Dudley? That would be far more convenient for me...
Kermit: Should we just do that? It could be a small independent film. Dudley? Like Dudley Moore?
Have you not been to Dudley?
Kermit: I have not.
Piggy: Would people like it if we took Dudley?
I think there would be significant cultural ramifications to you doing so.
Kermit: Are there moors in Dudley?
There's a zoo.
Kermit: A zoo?
But it's haunted. See: you've got a movie there...
Kermit: A haunted zoo? That sounds like a Muppet movie. Wow!
Horror is something you've not done. Fozziestein, something like that?
Kermit: That's true, that's true. We've talked about that for many, many years. Maybe doing some kind of Halloween thing. But we've never quite done it. I think it'd be great. We could get Alice Cooper to come back and work with us.
Piggy: The Muppets are pretty scary on their own.
Kermit: Some of them are.
What about Waldorf vs Statler? That'd be my dream horror movie...
Kermit: Yes! It's our horror movie every show!
So how do you go about auditioning your directors? You've allowed James Bobin back for a second time now.
Kermit: Well, he only had to audition for the first film.
Piggy: I didn't even know he was our director, until our premiere last night. I finally met him.
Kermit: You didn't spend that much time on the set.
Piggy: No, I spent most of my time in my dressing room.
With over 20 outfits, apparently. More than any Muppet in any Muppet film ever, apparently...
Kermit: Well she only wore 22 outfits, but she had, what, 350 in the room to choose from...
Piggy [nods]: Yes. Every time I came into the film, I wanted to make sure I was wearing something different.
Kermit: On screen, on set, morning, night...
Vivian Westwood has apparently said that she has one difficult customer a year, and that you were this year's...
Piggy: Well, I'm glad I made her list!
Were there any particular demands that you gave her that she couldn't meet?
Piggy: Well, I gave her some old plastic bottles and said here, you make a dress out of this, and I will wear it.
Kermit: And she did.
Piggy: She did. It was amazing.
Kermit: The wedding gown in the movie is all recycled plastic. It's true.
I take it you wrote the wedding scene into the film then Piggy?
Piggy: Oh no, no. I didn't write it. [Laughs] I merely demanded it.
So how was Celine Dion then? You've got a big number where she's graciously plays a supporting role alongside you...
Kermit: Well said.
She knows her place.
Piggy: We're very different, actually. It was a pleasure to have her join moi for my big number. And I hope it does something for her career, I really do.
Did you have to give her some extra singing coaching?
Piggy: No. I didn't want to embarrass her like that in front of so many people. So I just went into the studio later on and sang some of those high notes for her. The ones she couldn't hit.
There are a lot of small children who will meet you two for the first time off the back of Muppets Most Wanted. What would you want them to take from it?
Piggy: Our previous movie, The Muppets, was steeped in nostalgia. And it was fun for the whole family, but especially for those who had seen us when they were children. So I would like to do movies for children today. Like with this movie, so they will be nostalgic for us another 20 years from now. It's all about keeping our careers going.
Kermit: Another 20 years when I'll be 80, and you'll be 30, right?
Piggy: I'm not going to be 30! [Huffs]
Kermit: I hope they laugh a lot. I think it's good that they laugh.
When I took my children to see your film, we ended up having a long chat about Jim Henson.
Piggy: You knew him didn't you?
Kermit: I met him once, yes.
When you two come to a new film, how dear to your heart does he remain, and what are the lessons you take from working with someone like that?
Kermit: Doing this because you like it. Doing this because you're driven to do it. It's nice for it to be successful, that's always nice. It's nice for critics to like it. But really, the only reason to do this is it's so much fun, and it's what you're driven to do.
Piggy: Kermit has always said that he just wants to make people happy. And that's something that you told me Jim had the same feelings about.
Kermit [nods]: He did, he did. He enjoyed making people laugh, and he always said that he wanted to make the world a better place for having being here.
Piggy: I did not know him but he sounds like a wonderful person.
Given your British heritage, I hope you'll indulge a particular UK success story for us. We always feel honour bound to salute the work of action movie star Jason Statham, and we like to ask people what their favourite film of his is. So what's yours?
Kermit: I feel horrible. I don't want to say that I don't know who Jason is, but you've caught me off-guard.
[A list of The Statham's movies is presented, and Kermit and Piggy peruse it].
Piggy: I don't know him either, but I like that his name kind of rhymes. Jason Statham, Jason Statham. Is that his real name?
[Piggy keeps reading the list]
Kermit: Oh wait, The Expendables 2? He's in The Expendables 2?! Which one is he?
He plays Lee Christmas.
Kermit: Oh! That's it! I like The Expendables.
[Piggy murmurs as she continues reading down the list]
Were you approached about The Expendables films? After Muppets Most Wanted, you're an action star!
Kermit: Well, yes. We were. I didn't have the body for it. Maybe next time. Maybe Expendables 3?
Piggy: I have not seen any of these movies! You cannot call him a movie star if I have not seen him. [Huffs again]
Kermit and Miss Piggy, thank you very much...
Muppets Most Wanted is in UK cinemas from Friday March 28th.
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