Writers Jason Segel and Nick Stoller Talk About The Muppets
For co-writers Jason Segel and Nick Stoller, who worked together on the script for The Muppets Movie, inspiration struck in the most humorous of ways.
“We had a meeting on Sarah Marshall. We had a meeting with various puppet companies…of course we ended up going with Henson company but we had our meeting with the Henson company and they passed out puppets to everyone in the meeting. The business meeting. They’re just doing as like a little goof, right? So Jason’s in the meeting. I’m in the meeting. The producers are in the meeting. And they had out puppets. Everyone’s like ha, puts them down. The entire meeting Jason has his hand in the puppet…we’re trying to have a meeting about the puppets and he’s like– like pretending.” Nick Stoller said, giving us a bit of back story.
“So after, after that movie we had a little bit of writing juice. The movie did well and we’re trying to figure out what the next thing was. And I went to Nick and I told him I would like to make a Muppet movie and Nick helped me think of the plot.” Jason Segel continued.
Both Jason and Nick are lifelong fans of the Muppets; Jason’s favorite Muppets movie is Muppets Take Manhattan, and Nick’s favorite Muppets movie is The Great Muppets Caper. “Kids are just watching a goofy guy sing a song with a bunch of puppets and it’s fun. And adults are experiencing it on a whole different level and I think there’s something neat about the whole family walking away having enjoyed something together, having a shared experience.” Segel said of why he believes the Muppets have such appeal to such a wide range of ages.
Luckily for both Jason and Nick, Disney Studios was very receptive to them writing a script. “Disney understood the tone that we wanted to do…It was a very cool and creatively liberating experience,” Stoller said.
“I must say our executive at Disney… she loves the Muppets as much as we do… every image you have of like a studio executive who doesn’t quite get what you’re doing, she was the opposite,” Jason Segel said. The executive’s office is filled with Disney and Muppets paraphernalia.
Working with the Muppets is a lifelong dream come true for Jason Segel. His first encounter with Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog at a table read in New York was very emotional. “They surprised us and brought the puppets out for the table read. And when Kermit first spoke line that we had written I literally cried at the table read and they had to stop the table read for a second while I pulled it together.”
“Shameful,” teased Nick Stoller.
The Muppets also introduces a brand new muppet named Walter. “Walter is like the eyes and the ears of where we hope our new audience will be,” Segel said.
When asked if they had any plans of writing a follow-up film, Segel said, “I’m superstitious and so we’re trying not to think of it until this comes out. But we’re starting to think of ideas. I think my main goal is just to try to get the Muppets back to where they belong and you know the forefront of comedy. And to have, to have our generation get to experience what they had when they were young. And share that with like their kids. I just think it would be great.”
*Disney/DreamWorks provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to meet with the cast and talent of The Muppets. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*