» Film / Interviews / Jason Segel Talks ‘The Muppets’

Jason Segel Talks ‘The Muppets’

The star and co-writer of The Muppets describes the very different original draft of the script, what it's like doing publicity with real fictional characters and – of course – sequels.

 

The Muppets is putting everyone in a good mood, but Jason Segal is downright giddy about it. Segal fulfilled his dream by writing and starring in a movie with The Muppets, but he’d just spent the weekend doing a press junket with them so that must have made him loopy. It seemed like every time I interjected with a question, he cracked himself up with his answer.

 

CraveOnline: Did you ever dream of doing a press junket with The Muppets giving interviews with you?

Jason Segel: It’s pretty surreal. What’s a little weird is we’re also adults and when we get asked questions about the movie, I want to refer to the puppeteers’ amazing work and all that. But you can’t acknowledge those puppeteers when the puppets are also there. You have to decide what reality you’re going to choose and we’ve just gone with full out The Muppets are actors who are here doing the junket with us.

 

You did on camera interviews with Walter too, didn’t you?

I did. I’m going to do a few appearances with him. It’s been very surreal to be working with The Muppets.

 

What is the tone of your performance in this movie?

Awesome.

 

That’s a good way to put it. You’re sort of acting at a level I don’t think anyone’s allowed to do anymore.

[Laughs] That was very, very kindly put. Yeah, it’s really like a wide-eyed 1950s performance, but it was intentional. We had a line that was “This is going to be the bestest anniversary ever.” I’m like Gary’s not going to say bestest. Then I was like, “But I do have another joke.” Mary was reading Future Bride magazine because she kept intimating that she wanted to be married and there was a bride on the cover in a beautiful wedding dress. I said, “Why are you reading that? And by the way, she doesn’t look futuristic at all.” Future Bride magazine is funny.

 

What if kids see you on other DVD covers and go, “Oh, I like that guy. He’s in The Muppets” and end up watching ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall?’

Yikes, hopefully that won’t happen, because they shouldn’t be in the DVD store alone. I’m less worried about them watching Sarah Marshall than being kidnapped.

 

I know Jack Black is a friend, but could you have written any celebrity cameo and had stars begging to be a part of this?

We tried a lot of different versions of whether it should be a comedian. Once they get to the show, they get to be funny. Or it could’ve been something who you think would legitimately be angry, like Sean Penn. We tried all sorts of different versions but at the end of the day it came down to Jack just being the man.

 

What was the early version of the script with the ventriloquist act and how would that have led to getting The Muppets back together?

It was a very, very similar story. It’s just that at the beginning, I was a ventriloquist on the Venice boardwalk with my puppet Walter. The secret was that Walter was really alive and his dream had always been to become a Muppet. Then the story unfolds the same from there but it became increasingly clear that you really don’t want to pull threads in this world of this is a puppet and this is a frog or a pig. It’s too hard for a kid to distinguish. It’s just easier not to even mention the concept of puppets in this world. That was one of their rules. We also did have a great trick where at the end I wrote that Kermit is like, “And I’m so happy that you guys liked our telethon. As a matter of fact, we’re going to relaunch The Muppet Show starting this fall on ABC.” ABC was like, “What are you talking about? Take it easy, kid.”

 

Where do you go from here now that The Muppets are famous again and assuming there’s another movie in the next few years?

I don’t know, we haven’t really started thinking about a sequel yet. We’re just waiting to see how this goes. I wouldn’t mind bringing The Muppet Show back. I think that would be a great venue too. The Muppet Show was like Monty Python.

 

Not even a sequel, but another standalone movie.

I think that’s a little bit more Muppety, yeah. The Great Muppet Caper is so different from The Muppets Take Manhattan which is so different from The Muppet Movie. I agree with you. I think that’s the better approach.

 

You’ve done great music for Aldous Snow so how did you conceive of Muppet songs?

That was all Bret McKenzie. We basically wrote placeholders. We described pretty distinctly the opening scene. The song was just “They sing a song about things are going great.” Then Bret McKenzie came in and wrote the songs. “Man or Muppet” I think should be nominated for an Academy Award. I think it’s just brilliant. I don’t know if we’re allowed to print this yet, but it was just named by International Music Magazine [cracks here] the best song of all time. I made that joke in the last room and Nick [Stoller] went, “Really?” International Music Magazine?