Interview: ‘The Muppets’ press conference

The anticipation was palpable as people gathered at London’s Mayfair Hotel for a chance to see the small green superstar Kermit the Frog, accompanied by the glamorous Miss Piggy and director James Bobin. The Muppets (2012), which was released last year in the States, has gone down a storm with UK critics, giving old fans a chance to relive their youth and introduce a whole new generation to the host of lovable characters.

Kermit was welcomed onto the stage for the press conference to loud applause, but we would have to wait for Miss Piggy – who was reportedly last seen at the bar. Bobin made comment that she was “a delight to work with,” to which Kermit jumped in commenting “Wow you’re good at this. You have a beautiful wife James, but I expect you dated a pig in the past”. Setting the jovial tone of the conference the questions started coming thick and fast:

It’s been a long time since [the Muppets] put on a film. Did you still get along with all of your old friends, and James, have you made any new ones?

James Bobin: I grew up watching The Muppet Show those guys felt like friends even then, so now to have met them they are actual real friends.

Kermit: We all made new friends on this film and that is the best thing about being with the Muppets. It is always wonderful to get back together with all the gang, all the different personalities, strange quirks, I love it.

Jack Black was a fantastic guest star in the movie. Is there anyone else from past or present that you would love to work with and why?

JB: I always liked the idea of the Muppets and Radiohead performing together, one day that will happen I promise you.

K: That is a tough question I have worked with a lot of people. Some real legends, some people who aren’t with us anymore. I got to work with Jason Segel, Amy [Adams] and of course James, who are all wonderful people, I am just going to be happy with who I have worked with.

Why do you think that over all the decades you have been working, the Muppets have retained such popularity?

K: That’s a great question, if we knew the secret to that we would have been back before twelve years. I think it is probably a lot to do with the fact that we’ve stayed true to who we are, yet also evolved with the times. We have never been interested in becoming background guys who turn into CGI; we always wanted to be real, in a real world. Let me give you an example, if you were talking to me and I were, say, Woody from Toy Story this would be your interview…(silence). It’s nice that we can actually be here.

JB: I think it is because they are not very good at what they do, they are the underdogs. But they try very hard and that is lovable.

There is a lot of talk that Uggie the canine performer from The Artist should be nominated for awards. Do you think that it is time other species are nominated and do you have any favourites for this year’s Oscar’s race? 

Miss Piggy: Thank you for bringing that issue up, the fact that the Academy doesn’t recognise any species other than humans as actors, performers, as talent!

K: You have the Emmys, the day time Emmys, The Oscars, all these different awards. If you don’t go for the big one it doesn’t really matter.

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the comments by Fox News that the film is pushing “a dangerous liberal agenda”. 

K: Oh it’s so dangerous. You know it’s a funny thing they were concerned about us have prejudice against oil companies, I can tell you that is categorically not true. Besides if we had a problem with oil companies why would we spend the entire film driving around in a gas-guzzling Rolls-Royce?

James, lets talk about the songs in the movie and the Oscar nomination for Brad Mackenzie. 

JB: I very much wanted this to be a comedy musical and I have a good friend who is very good at comedy and very good at musicals. I wanted it to be a tribute to the heritage of the Muppets but also feel very contemporary. So something like ‘Man or a Muppet’ ticks both those boxes, so I am really thrilled for him.

In the film you are very inspiring Kermit. What is the most inspiring advice that you have been given? 

K: Never listen to your own PR. Other than that, try to find a way of doing what you enjoy doing and surviving. If you can’t, try to find a way of surviving but enjoy it. It’s not funny but it’s true.

On those wise words, the conference drew to a close. The Muppets opens in UK cinemas nationwide this Friday. You can read our review here.

Joe Walsh