During my week in Los Angeles, we had the opportunity to interview the Muppets Most Wanted director, James Bobin, before our interview with Kermit, Miss Piggy and Constantine. Bobin is a sweet guy with a cute accent, and eager to share inside information on directing a film that was about to hit theaters!
It was easy to pick up on Bobin’s love for the Muppets and the ideas Jim Henson created. Bobin’s smile lit up the room as we talked about the film.
In Muppets Most Wanted, James Bobin is both the writer and director, but on the previous film, he was just the director. Bobin adds how he feels this movie is more personal to him, as he was writing the material.
What is the difference between shooting the first movie and then the second movie?
James Bobin: With the first movie, I’d never worked with puppets before, so it was a very big experiential learning curve of how to frame shots… how to make this (muppet) world feel realistic – that these puppets were alive, breathing people who are just interacting with humans and the world we live in. The recognizable world we live in just happened to have puppets in it!
Who is the most difficult Muppet to work with?
James Bobin: I’ll let you guess who the most difficult Muppet is who I work with! None of them, they’re all a total joy to work with. I’m a huge fan, I grew up watching the Muppets as a kid, so working with them for me is like working with my hero! Every day I go to work and I’m so pleased just to be there. So it’s very hard for me to get cross with them ’cause they’re so loved, they’re, you know, it’s like working with Luke Skywalker, it’s crazy! Like little Kermit is like–– like my hero growing up so meeting him and getting to work with him and even write lines for him is just amazing.
And as we know from previous Muppet movies, there are always a rather long list of celebrity cameos. We questioned this during the interview, and found out sometimes the script is written with a specific person in mind, such as with Usher playing the usher in Muppets Most Wanted, but other times, the general roll is written and they fill the celebrities as they are available and see fit. In Muppets Most Wanted, we see Josh Groban, Christoph Waltz and Danny Trejo, to name a few.
What was the inspiration for Josh Groban in the box?
James Bobin: Josh in the box is because I love the idea that he had a very identifiable voice, and so I thought it’d be funny if we thought, “that voice is very familiar, who is that? It can’t be Josh Groban, there’s no way it’s gonna be Josh Groban,” then again, you see him again and again and again. And at the end, it is Josh Groban, and I thought it’d be a funny, that’s a funny reveal at the end that he comes out of the box, and, you know, Josh Groban’s a very innocent guy, he’s the last guy you’d expect to play at a top place, so it was a funny idea. But he did it, he is great, and he really sings very well.
Bobin adds that the toughest scene to shoot in a film is when a muppet is shown full body. As a director, he tries to avoid these types of scenes, but sometimes you can’t avoid them. The escape scene took two-and-a-half weeks to film, so that was a long time. Another hard scene to film? When Constantine was dancing on the rail because (again), it was a full body shot. During that shooting it is being manipulated by six guys on the set just to make him move. Bobin says you have to keep the puppetering magic alive and allow kids to love and hug on Kermit!
Make sure you check out my previous post on attending the Muppets Most Wanted red carpet world premiere. You can also check out the selection of Muppets Most Wanted fun accessories before visiting twitter and searching the #MuppetsMostWantedEvent to look at the entire experience!