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March 20th, 2019

Tina Fey, Kermit & Miss Piggy Interview, Muppets most Wanted

Miss Piggy and TWO Kermits take over the big screen in Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” opening in theaters on March 21st. The entire Muppets gang embarks on a global tour that sells out Europe’s finest theaters in Berlin, Madrid, Dublin and London. But overseas, they unwittingly get entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine — the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog — and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two (Ricky Gervais). The film also stars Tina Fey as Nadya, a feisty Russian Gulag prison guard, and Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon.

At the film’s hilarious Los Angeles press conference, Kermit, Constantine, Miss Piggy (who arrived fashionably late), Gervais, Fey and Burrell talked about their recent Muppet misadventures, why Kermit couldn’t play both parts, why Gervais will do anything with a frog but how one whiney, high maintenance Muppet really annoys him, the competition between Nadya and Miss Piggy over Kermit, why Nadya feels she’s the right woman for the frog, Kermit’s “closed set” licking scene with Nadya, Constantine’s plans to leave the criminal life behind, how they’ve turned a very strange psychological disorder into a lucrative career, the half-life for a pig-frog marriage, and why adults and children alike will enjoy the movie.

Here’s what they had to say:

QUESTION: Kermit, I was wondering – nothing against you Constantine – but I was wondering why you didn’t want to play both parts because it would have really enhanced your acting credits? And where’s Miss Piggy? (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Boy, that’s two very different questions (Laughter) I’ll tell you. (Laughter) Well, you know it didn’t make sense for me to play Constantine ‘cause we do have a few scenes together and I don’t really work on green screen (Laughter) so we couldn’t really make that work. But plus, listen, Constantine is actually a—a distant cousin, from Russia.


KERMIT THE FROG: Also with roots in the Colorado area I understand.

CONSTANTINE: This is true.

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah. They like to lick toads there but anyway (Laughter). So—so it was better to get him to do it. He has the voice you know.

SAM EAGLE: He is actually from Russia?

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, I’m afraid so Sam. I’m afraid so.

SAM EAGLE: My goodness you’re sitting between the two of us. That’s all I can say.

CONSTANTINE: But what is weird thing is I cannot speak any Russian words.

RICKY GERVAIS: Just—just …

CONSTANTINE: Just an accent …

RICKY GERVAIS: Any place with a Russian accent?


KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah. (Laughter)

TY BURRELL: Two dogs (Laughter).


KERMIT THE FROG: That is very weird.

TY BURRELL: That’s a weird part of Russia that’s all English and …

CONSTANTINE: That is correct.

TINA FEY: You were born in the Russian airport.


TY BURRELL: (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Oh, and I should, to answer the second part of your question, well, I’m just gonna give it away. Miss Piggy is actually around but she—she insisted upon being fashionably late.


KERMIT THE FROG: So, I don’t know when she’s gonna show up but she is here.

CONSTANTINE: Who cares? (Laughter)


Q: I wanted to ask the humans amongst the group here about the singing. Were you nervous at all about being in a movie musical and singing? How did you approach it and will there be more musicals in your future?

RICKY GERVAIS: Well, I was okay with singing. I’m a failed pop star. I always sneak a song into everything I do, whether it’s David Brent or The Simpson’s, but my dancing is
a little awkward. I’m a little embarrassed about that. I don’t move well. But I was with a frog.


RICKY GERVAIS: So it doesn’t matter.

KERMIT THE FROG: You’re a very good friend.

RICKY GERVAIS: I’ll do anything with a frog. That’s my motto. (Laughter)

CONSTANTINE: That is nothing.

RICKY GERVAIS: And he’s a great tap dancer—well, more a flap dancer …

CONSTANTINE: I did flap dancing. (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: Yeah, flap dancing on my head. So yeah, no one’s gonna be looking at me when we’re doing that dance. (Laugher) They’re gonna say there’s a frog dancing. That’s what’s gonna be happening. So, yeah I got away with it.

TINA FEY: Yeah, you know you have a good voice. And my singing sounds like if you’ve ever seen the version of Oliver when the little boy sings and you can hear the hiss of how loud they had to turn up the microphone (Laughter). My singing sounds like that.

KERMIT THE FROG: No, no that’s not true. You were great (Laughter), you were great.

TINA FEY: But I think you know, Bret (McKenzie) wrote really, really good songs.


TINA FEY: That make us seem good.

RICKY GERVAIS: Pretty amazing.


SAM EAGLE: America and the world were spared my singing voice except for two notes. I don’t know if you noticed that. I think it was by design. (Laughter) I spoke my song but I was thrilled to do it. I’m a huge fan of Bret McKenzie.

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, you are selling yourself short. You’re a great singer, a great actor and a great American. (Laughter)

SAM EAGLE: So—so confusing. (Laughter)

Q: Hi Tina.


Q: In your Nadya persona …


Q: Can you tell us why you, not Miss Piggy, are the right woman for Kermit? She’ll stab you in the back later but just tell us now why you’re the right woman?

TINA FEY: Nadya is less work than Piggy. (Laughter) You can give Nadya bag of hot rocks for Valentine’s Day. She will not care. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: That’s true, that’s true. (Laughter)

Q: Perfect date.

TINA FEY: Or is a cheap date. (Laughter)

Q: Constantine, after this movie and singing and dancing, did you ever plan to leave behind the criminal life and join the Muppets family?

CONSTANTINE: Well, this is good question. I am actually thinking about doing new Netflix original programming (Laughter). I will call it House of Toads. (Laughter) I will executive produce and show run. (Laughter) So let’s take meeting, yes? (Laughter) (To Ricky Gervais) What you think?

RICKY GERVAIS: It’s amazing. (Laughter) You’re the best.


RICKY GERVAIS: I love this guy. He looks like, you know, he’s got a cold… always literally like a cold exterior. He’s cold blooded. He’s an amphibian.


RICKY GERVAIS: But he’s got it all. I think I’ve melted his heart a little bit. You see he had a bad upbringing. He was born in a Russian pond, weren’t you?


KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah.

RICKY GERVAIS: One of 800 siblings.


RICKY GERVAIS: Many of ‘em dead.


CONSTANTINE: Eaten by fish. (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: And he came over here, and we met, and we bonded, didn’t we?


RICKY GERVAIS: We bonded over our mutual hatred of most of the other Muppets. (Laughter)

CONSTANTINE: Well, of particular pig.

RICKY GERVAIS: Oh yeah, don’t get me started.


SAM EAGLE: Yeah, good thing she’s not here.


Q: In the movie, there’s a scene where Kermit, you try to mimic Constantine in that mirror. I was wondering for all of you, in your own personal lives, have you ever tried to be someone and mimic someone that isn’t true to who you really are?

KERMIT THE FROG: I think that’s what we do for a living, isn’t it? (Laughter)

TY BURRELL: Yeah, yeah. (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: Five days a week.

TY BURRELL: We turn that very strange psychological disorder into a lucrative career. (Laughter)

CONSTANTINE: You nailed the answer Kermit. That was good.


Q: There’s a line in the movie that suggests that there may have been some rivalry behind the scenes over how much screen time Walter got in the last movie. Would Kermit and Sam care to comment on that? Was there any sort of behind the scenes politicking?

KERMIT THE FROG: Sam, you’re good at behind the scenes politicking.

SAM EAGLE: Well, yes, yes, I’m also very good at diplomacy so …


SAM EAGLE: I will just say that I am happy with how this movie turned out (Laughter) and all the screen time that …

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, wait, wait, whoa …

SAM EAGLE: … everyone here …

KERMIT THE FROG: Sam, you didn’t answer the question.

SAM EAGLE: Exactly Kermit. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Oh. (Laughter)

SAM EAGLE: That was the point. (Laughter)

Q: Ricky, I’m a huge fan of your work with the podcast and the travel shows with Mr. Karl Pilkington.


Q: I was curious if you were to do another season of An Idiot Abroad and pair Karl with any one of the Muppets, which Muppet would you pair him with to annoy him the most and where would you send them around the world?

RICKY GERVAIS: I reckon, wow, Piggy I reckon, (Laughter). It can’t stand anything high maintenance and whiney so that would be good. That would, that would really, I mean, that would finish him off, I think. (Laughter) Or Bunsen, that would be good as well.


RICKY GERVAIS: Because they look so alike. (Laughter) That would confuse him. He wouldn’t know which one he was by the end of the show so that would be easy.

Q: What do you guys think that kids will like most about this movie?

TINA FEY: I think… I have kids. So I will answer.

KERMIT THE FROG: You think you do or you know you do? (Laughter)

TINA FEY: I had some. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: I did—I did get her attention.

TINA FEY: I had some. As of this morning I had two. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Okay, good, good.

TINA FEY: I think they’re gonna like how funny the movie is because there’s a lot of jokes in the movie, and kids who are like 8, 9, 10 years old they take a lot of pride in getting the jokes.


TINA FEY: It makes them feel big.

RICKY GERVAIS: Yeah, it doesn’t patronize kids.


RICKY GERVAIS: It doesn’t aim an audience.


RICKY GERVAIS: It aims higher and I remember when I was a kid watching the Muppets. I had older brothers and sisters, and they were laughing, and I sort of knew that it was cool as well, you know, good for me, so I think kids relate to that. They like things that adults like…


RICKY GERVAIS: …as well. So that …

KERMIT THE FROG: I for one do not get any of the jokes in this movie. (Laughter) I just want to say.

TY BURRELL: I have an IQ of a seven-year-old and I loved this movie so much. (Laughter)


TY BURRELL: I also love juice. (Laughter)

Q: You guys are all comedy giants, in different age ranges, of course.

TINA FEY: Yeah, only from behind.

Q: Okay, yes. (Laughter) For Tina, Ricky and Ty, when you guys got to work with each other on set, was there anything that inspired you from the Muppets? And for the Muppets, were you guys inspired by your human counterparts?

TY BURRELL: I was constantly inspired by the Muppets. I’ve never realized just how over rated I was until I went out (Laughter) and did a scene with somebody who’s doing eight things at once, while all I have to do is try to remember my words which I fail at miserably.

SAM EAGLE: No, no again, you sell yourself short, Ty. (Laughter) Alright? You could remember…

TY BURRELL: Oh, by the way, Sam…

SAM EAGLE: …most of those words …

TY BURRELL: … I’m—I’m …

SAM EAGLE: … most of the time.

TY BURRELL: I’m happy to report Sam became my life coach (Laughter) right after we finished filming.

SAM EAGLE: Yes, yes. Well it took a while though.


SAM EAGLE: For about half of the film, this man is such a great actor. He had me going. I literally thought he was a Frenchman. (Laughter) Yes, he was so convincing I think his portrayal of a Frenchman will go down in history as the most convincing portrayal of a Frenchman in film. (Laughter)

TY BURRELL: Wow! I think you and I finally really bonded when we realized we had the exact same eyebrows.

SAM EAGLE: Yes. It’s true. It’s true. You know, and yes one day when I showed up to sets without mine, he was kind enough to let me borrow his.

TY BURRELL: Yeah. (Laughter) I had a surplus.

Q: Ricky, we see you in the movie carrying these big bags of money for bribing the journalists and I didn’t get my share (Laughter). Where is my money and do you care about reviews at all?

RICKY GERVAIS: Well yeah. I mean, you like it when they get it. But, I mean, if you only believe the good ones and don’t believe the bad ones, then I think that’s a slippery slope. The best thing to do is celebrate the people that like the film and know that it was made for them. I don’t do anything for reviews or audience or awards or anything, you know. I do it for myself really if I’m being totally honest.


RICKY GERVAIS: And of course, you know, and like minded people. But it’s crazy. If you’re worried about pleasing everyone, you’re not gonna please anyone. And it’ll send you mad, you know.


RICKY GERVAIS: It’ll drive you mad. And now, everyone’s a journalist. Everyone’s a reviewer with Twitter and Facebook. It’s like glorified graffiti. If you care about that, you might as well go around every toilet wall in the world and get offended when they mention you. So you musn’t. But yeah, I’d love it to do, get good reviews, and I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But you really musn’t worry about it. You really musn’t.


RICKY GERVAIS: It will drive you crazy. But having said that, just say f****** nice things about it, please. (Laughter) This is not for me but for the kids. (Laughter)

Q: Hi. This question is for Kermit.


Q: Kermit, what are you most proud of?

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, you may be surprised to hear this, but I’m actually stretching myself quite a lot as a dramatic actor in this thing. I did many, many scenes with Tina.

TINA FEY: Mm-hmm.

KERMIT THE FROG: One particular scene stands out to me. It was a closed set. It was the scene where she licks me. (Laughter)


KERMIT THE FROG: We—we, but I—I just wanna clear it up right here with the press that Tina is happily married. Jeff was there during the shooting.


KERMIT THE FROG: On closed set.

TINA FEY: He was—he was. My husband was there. He was being very kind of …


TINA FEY: … controlling and creepy. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Yes, but supportive, supportive.

TINA FEY: Kind of a Star 80 thing but (Laughter) …

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah. (Laughter)

TINA FEY: And I had never done a scene like that before either.

KERMIT THE FROG: No, no. Me too.

TINA FEY: I mean I’d filmed a lot of weird stuff at home but (Laughter) …

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah.

TINA FEY: To have a whole crew there, I was nervous, and Kermit really put me at my ease.

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah.

TINA FEY: But I did hallucinate for three or four hours. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: A little bit. And that’s odd because I had blood tests before.

TINA FEY: Right.

KERMIT THE FROG: I thought the toxins were low but…

TINA FEY: No, it was …

KERMIT THE FROG: … pretty strange.

TINA FEY: It was pretty trippy.


SAM EAGLE: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m going to have to leave now (Laughter). I’m—I’m doing double duty here both promoting this film and also working in hotel security.

KERMIT THE FROG: Oh, thanks, thanks.

SAM EAGLE: And there’s been a bit of a ruckus in the lobby. I—I have to go I—I—I apologize sir.

TINA FEY: Thanks.

SAM EAGLE: Got the m and m.

Q: Ricky, I know that you have been a manager for rock bands.


Q: And now you’re portraying a rock band manager. How was that experience for you? What did you draw on for the role in the movie?

RICKY GERVAIS: Oh. Oh, yes because I’m pretending to be a sort of sleazy LA agent, not that there are any sleazy LA agents. (Laughter)


RICKY GERVAIS: To yeah, infiltrate the Muppets. Yeah, it’s quite nice playing a slime ball, a villain. I like that. I’ve liked playing flawed characters, you know, it’s fun. It’s sort of an exorcism. You’re sort of saying, “See I’m not really like that myself.” (Laughter) And I think that’s what I was just thinking about. The Muppets did what I tried to do in extras of many years before. Taking sort of famous people and making them make fools of themselves and it must have sunk in. And being on the flip side of it, like doing stuff like this and Curb Your Enthusiasm, you enjoy it and you wanna be worse ‘cause you are sort of saying, “Look, I can’t be like that or I wouldn’t be joking about it” and I think that’s why they wanna do it in a way. So it was great fun for me and I bonded with this guy immediately. I’ve loved the Muppets for 35 years and I love you guy—I love you. I love your nephew, Robin. He’s got no neck.

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah. (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: It was like I love …

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah.

RICKY GERVAIS: … I love frogs. He was my favorite until I met this guy (referring to Constantine). I’m sorry to say this but …

KERMIT THE FROG: Okay, yeah …

RICKY GERVAIS: I think Constantine might be my best buddy.

KERMIT THE FROG: No, you know what, I totally understand. You guys worked closely together.


KERMIT THE FROG: I understand. I accept that.


KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah.

CONSTANTINE: I have no comment on this. (Laughter)


TY BURRELL: Hello, Miss Piggy.

MISS PIGGY: The show’s not over. It’s just begun. Ha ha. Hello, Kermit.

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, hi there. Hi there.

MISS PIGGY: Hello, Kermit. Whoa, whoa, wait.

CONSTANTINE: Yeah, hello pig. (Laughter)

MISS PIGGY: Wait a minute, what? Which one is which? (Laughter) Hi all.

CONSTANTINE: No, I’m just kidding. I got with the, oh, ha ha ha.

MISS PIGGY: Oh, okay okay. Whew.

KERMIT THE FROG: And this was all during the entire shoot she confused us.


KERMIT THE FROG: But it kinda took some of the pressure off me.

MISS PIGGY: Maybe—maybe a little bit at the beginning.

KERMIT THE FROG: No, listen you still don’t know who we are.

MISS PIGGY: Ah, (Laughter) alright, alright, alright.

KERMIT THE FROG: She just sees green. It’s wonderful.


MISS PIGGY: You know it’s actually not bad.

TINA FEY: Hi, Miss Piggy.

MISS PIGGY: Oh, yes.

TINA FEY: We haven’t actually met.

MISS PIGGY: I know. We have, but we didn’t really do much together on the movie.

TINA FEY: No, you refused to meet me.

MISS PIGGY: Hello Tina. (Laughter)

TINA FEY: Hi, this is nice. You look so pretty.

MISS PIGGY: Aw, thank you. Thank you. Yes, I think you look pretty too.

TINA FEY: Oh, thank you. (Laughter)

MISS PIGGY: (peering at Tina) You’re so far away. (Laughter) I’m sure you look pretty.

CONSTANTINE: Oh, I forgot there were questions. (Laughter)

TINA FEY: It’s a wonderful play that we’re doing.

CONSTANTINE: I thought we were just having a dinner party. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Where is the food?

Q: For the non-Muppet performers, what does it do for your street cred to be able to tell everybody that you were working with the Muppets and becoming close personal friends with them? Were your kids impressed?

TY BURRELL: My kids are still so unimpressed by me. I’m banking this one. I’m gonna. I’ve learned this already from other kid’s project that if I wanna save my ego, I’m gonna bank this. I’m gonna put it out in five years or something. But so far, it’s one minute of “Why is daddy on screen?” and 90 minutes of “I’m hungry.” (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: I haven’t got children but when I found out I was doing this film, I just went and hung around schools telling ‘em. (Laughter) Just at play time. (Laughter) I said, “Hey kids, you don’t know who I am yet, but do you know the Muppets? Oh, yeah, you wait, you’re going to be impressed. (Laughter)

TY BURRELL: Let’s wait right here.

RICKY GERVAIS: Yeah, that’s right. The whole day.

TY BURRELL: Yeah, you wanna leave soon.

RICKY GERVAIS: Yeah. (Laughter)

TINA FEY: I have four children now (Laughter).


TY BURRELL: Oh, wow.


TINA FEY: And they’re very excited to see the movie. But as far as me being in it, it’s mostly like, “Oh, you’re in the poster now. You be Queen Elsa.” (Laughter) They just want me to be either Queen Elsa or Mistress Me. (Laughter)

Q: Tina, since Kermit brought it up the licking scene …


Q: On your list of things, and I presume there is one, that you want to lick before you die, how high was Kermit on that list?

TINA FEY: It was …

RICKY GERVAIS: Do you still do that list?

TINA FEY: That list? Yeah. And I’ve done a bunch of them. I do them, so they still might have the silver, the third rail of the New York subway. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah, yeah (Laughter) …

TINA FEY: Anderson Cooper’s neck is still on the list.

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah, (Laughter)

TINA FEY: It’s pretty high up there. Yeah. To lick Kermit, that was …


TINA FEY: … pretty high up there on the …

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah. It was great for me.

MISS PIGGY: Yeah, that’s the last thing you’re gonna lick, sister. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah. (Laughter)

Q: Miss Piggy, I was wondering how was it working with Celine Dion?

MISS PIGGY: Well, working with Celine Dion was a pleasure. It was a joy for her, naturally. (Laughter) Yes, I’m only too happy to let her ride my coat tails up to the Oscar stage. Yes, it was a joy. We only spent a little time together but, it was very meaningful to her. (Laughter)

Q: I have a question for Miss Piggy.


Q: First of all, who are you wearing today ‘cause you look fabulous.

MISS PIGGY: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Q: And also, how did you like Vivienne Westwood’s wedding gown?

MISS PIGGY: Oh, well first of all, this is an original Stefano from Hoboken. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MISS PIGGY: And then, what was the other question? A Vivienne Westwood question?

Q: Did you like her wedding gown?

MISS PIGGY: Yes, yes. Vivvy, she made moi a beautiful gown. Yes, made out of recycled plastic bottles. (Laughter) It took a little while to get over that, but you know, as they say, something gold, something new, something recycled, something …


MISS PIGGY: … something or other. (Laughter)

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, lucky for me.

MISS PIGGY: And so …

KERMIT THE FROG: Lucky for me she didn’t get to keep the wardrobe.

MISS PIGGY: Well, I could call Viv. I’ve got her on speed dial.

KERMIT THE FROG: No, no that’s okay. I think it’s probably disintegrated by now. Yeah. (Laughter)

MISS PIGGY: I don’t think so. I think the half-life for plastic is pretty long.

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, what about the half-life for a pig-frog marriage? I’m not sure about that? I mean come on people.

MISS PIGGY: For—forever!

KERMIT THE FROG: I don’t even think it’s legal.

RICKY GERVAIS: When in the movies, right …


RICKY GERVAIS: When you get married and …


RICKY GERVAIS: …and you have children …


RICKY GERVAIS: They’re either pigs or frogs?


RICKY GERVAIS: Why is there no sort of, you know …

TINA FEY: … abomination?

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, you know we’ve—we’ve never …

RICKY GERVAIS: Well, yeah (Laughter). Just like yeah, no. (Laughter) Some sort of a fat, green, snorkling, hoppy, greedy pig?

KERMIT THE FROG: Yeah, snorting, snorkling pig.

RICKY GERVAIS: You know, I mean, why? Haven’t you worked that out yet?

MISS PIGGY: I don’t know.

KERMIT THE FROG: Well, we haven’t actually consummated the experiment, so we don’t really know. (Laughter) You know? Yeah, yeah.

MISS PIGGY: It was just that was the filmmaker’s visualization, alright?

RICKY GERVAIS: It’s a house of cards that’s…

KERMIT THE FROG: What are we doing? What are we doing? (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: I don’t know.

KERMIT THE FROG: Holy Cow! (Laughter)

RICKY GERVAIS: I’m just thinking… (Laughter)

MISS PIGGY: Oh, there he goes again!


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