Cue Kermit’s patented arm-flailing “Yaaaaaay!” Following their successful return to the pop culture spotlight with 2011’s The Muppets, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the rest of the gang are heading back to the big screen. The Muppets…Again!, currently shooting in London and due in theaters March 21, 2014, finds the Muppet repertory company enjoying a triumphant world tour, only to become tangled up with a criminal mastermind named Constantine, who is out to steal an enormous diamond—and who happens to be a dead ringer for Kermit. “I always loved those classic jewel-heist capers from the ’60s and ’70s, so I was very keen to do a movie that had elements of that [genre] featuring the Muppets and comedy and songs,” says returning director James Bobin, who co-wrote the script with Nicholas Stoller. Starring opposite the Muppets this time are Ricky Gervais (as Constantine’s villainous sidekick), Tina Fey (as a Russian prison guard), and Ty Burrell (as an Interpol agent). For more inside scoop on the project, we went straight to the source: Kermit the Frog himself.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The success of The Muppets put you guys back in the limelight for the first time in years. How did you celebrate?
Kermit the Frog: Well, we hadn’t done a big movie in a long, long time, so really just seeing the guys everyday was celebration enough. Because, you know, when we’re not working, we go and do our separate things. We don’t live in a big house or anything. I don’t really spend a lot of time in Hollywood. I go back to the swamp. Piggy usually won’t come to the swamp with me—she just goes off with my credit card and I don’t see her for months. It’s very strange.
You’re the ringleader. Did you need to convince any of the other Muppets to come back and do the sequel?
I think everyone was pretty happy to do it. But, you know, Fozzie has been hibernating—it’s been tough to bring him to London this time of year and keep him awake. And the Dr. Teeth Band had to cancel a couple of engagements. They were playing at this little bar in Hoboken and they let that go just to come to London to do the movie.
The Muppets obviously have a lot of history in London because that’s where you filmed The Muppet Show back in the day.
That’s true, we have lots of old friends here. I know plenty of frogs here. And I’ve met the queen. She doesn’t know I’m in town yet but I plan to go see her. I try to stay close to the royalty. There’s always that outside chance I could get turned into a prince, you see. Pretty important stuff for a frog.
I know you just started shooting, but what can you tell me at this point about the plot of the movie?
I can actually tell you quite a lot because I have a press release in front of me, which makes it very easy! The idea of this film is that our gang is on this global tour, and we’re selling out these grand theaters all over Europe—in Berlin, Madrid, London—but we sort of get into a little bit of trouble when we run across my doppleganger. He’s the world’s number one criminal, Constantine, and he happens to look an awful lot like me. I won’t tell you any more than that, but let’s just say mayhem ensues.
So are you playing both roles?
No. We talked about putting me in makeup and having me play both roles, but we decided Constantine needed to be a guy who could do a Russian accent. And, you know, I’m a pretty accomplished actor and all, but besides the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, I’ve only really ever played myself. The great thing is, I have like 3,000 relatives back in the swamp, so it was quite easy to find a frog who could play Constantine.
And you’ve got some pretty great human co-stars again.
Ricky Gervais is kind of like a Muppet, if you think about it. He fits right in. He’s about our size. I actually think when this film ends it’s going to be hard to get rid of him. He keeps following me back to my hotel in London, which is very strange, but we’re thrilled to have him. Then, of course, we have Tina Fey—and it’s hard to beat Tina. I know her because I was lucky enough to get asked to do a little spot on one of the last episodes of 30 Rock. She’s playing a feisty prison guard named Nadya, which should be fun. Then we have Ty Burrell, who’s playing a French Interpol agent. But personally, I’m not going to be going to France for the French scenes. It’s best if I don’t go there. It’s a frog thing.