The newest addition to the Muppet family offers insight into his life and fame as The Muppets enters its third weekend of release
The Muppets has reigned as the number one comedy in America for the past two weeks, bested only by those pesky vampires and werewolves of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 at the top of the charts. As we come into the movie's third weekend of release, we decided to catch up with the newest addition toThe Muppets family, Walter, who plays Jason Segel's brother on the big screen.
We chatted with Walter about his new found fame, his outlook on the future, and how working with a Pig and a Frog have, in no way, changed his eating habits. For a fun and insightful interview with hot Muppet of the moment Walter, check out our conversation below.
You've been doing a lot of press and hitting a lot of parties these past few weeks. How do you stay out of the tabloids and off of TMZ?
Walter: It's not for lack of trying. I can't get arrested. I've been trying everything. I've shoplifted. I've gone to crazy parties, where I've stayed out too late. I'm not sure why TMZ isn't following me around. (Laughs) I'm teasing. Jason Segel says I'm not supposed to do that stuff, so I don't. The other thing is, I don't know how any one has time for that. I have been so busy trying to get people to go out and see The Muppets. By myself, I have seen the movie 67 times at this point.
Wait! You've seen the movie 67 times? Its good, but it ain't that good! That's crazy!
Walter: Heck, yeah! I think Disney and I can call it even now. Between the money they paid me to make the film, and the money I've paid to see the film...That's okay. I'm good with that...
Coming into the third weekend of release, and having seen the movie so many times, does your idea about which scene is your favorite change from one viewing to the next?
Walter: Oh, yeah. I am constantly catching new things. That's the fun of seeing it multiple times. The first or second time you see it, you are going to be watching where the main action is. But then you will start seeing things in the background. There are all of these different Muppet characters that are sprinkled throughout the film in the background of scenes. Its so much fun picking them out. You have Wayne and Wanda, who haven't been seen since season one of the show. Thog, who is hard to miss. He is a big, blue monster. Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphone. Bobby Benson and his Baby Band. Each time I see it, I find someone new that I didn't notice before.
Did you get a chance to chat with all of these guys? I mean, some of these Muppets haven't worked in ages.
Walter: Well, yes and no. I didn't have time to talk to everybody. In the Muppet ensemble, there are, I don't know how many guys. I did hang out a good bit with Fozzie Bear. As far as some of these guys not working for a while, its true...The conceit of the film is that these guys haven't been together for thirty years. Of course, in real life, they have. It's been twelve years since their last feature film. But they have done a bunch of TV movies, and viral videos. You must have seen the Bohemian Rhapsody...
Yes, I've seen that one. In terms of not working, though, I am talking about some of these old timers, like Wayne and Wanda, who you said retired from Show business after the first season of the show. They haven't been there for a lot of the history of this ensemble. So they must have an interesting take on the history they were involved with...
Walter: Oh, yeah...Some of them haven't worked. Honestly, I didn't get a chance to speak with Wayne and Wanda about their time on the show. I wish I had. That's one of my regrets about the movie. I didn't get to talk to everyone I would have liked.
Working so closely with a Pig and a Frog, do you have a different set of eyes when you walk into a Chinese Buffet, and see the deep fried frog legs and the pork ribs?
Walter: (Laughs) A different set of eyes! I am allergic to MSG, so I don't do too many types of those buffets. (Laughs) That's a funny question. No, doing the film has not changed my eating habits. I am a little mystified about one thing. I don't have anything against Sparkly vampires, but the love between a Frog and a Pig? That's even more provocative!
Are you a little bit jealous of Jacob and Edward? Or do you realize that down the road, these girls who are drooling over them now are going to forgot about this silly school girl crush and see that you're the type of guy girls really want to be with?
Walter: Oh, (Laughs)! Look, I have nothing against those guys. I'm not even sure who they are. I'm glad that the girls like them. Good for them. More power to them, right? I don't bare a grudge against them at all. I am just excited for people to go see The Muppets!
I know you are a huge Muppet fan. I spent Thanksgiving weekend watching all of the many Muppet Christmas movies and specials. Do you have a favorite Muppet Christmas DVD?
Walter: I love, love, love John Denver and The Muppets Christmas, together. The Muppet Family Christmas is really cool, because all of the Sesame Street characters are there as well. Everybody's there. It's the one where they all come sliding in on ice when they come sliding in the door. I think it takes place at Fozzie's Mom's house. Muppets keep showing up. Every time they go through the door, they slip on the ice.
When you're out doing as much press as you've been doing these last few months, you're bound to run into kids. I remember meeting Rosie O'Donnell for the first time when I was young, and I was shocked to see that she had this personal assistant with her everywhere she'd go, helping her with pretty much everything she did. Now that you're the star of your first movie, you have an assistant as well. What advice do you give to parents in explaining to their children who your personal assistant is?
Walter: I don't really get a personal assistant. Miss Piggy is the only one who gets a personal assistant. I'm not even sure that person is real. There is this guy that follows me around. His name is Peter Linz. He's not such a bad guy. If parents want to ask about him, go ahead. It's a free country. I'm happy to answer any questions.
I just noticed at the recent junket that some of the children who met you in the hall were a little concerned about Linz. I spoke with them afterwards, and they were a little confused about why the guy was hanging around all the time. I guess they thought Hollywood had gone to your head. They were concerned about you more than anything.
Walter: He's just a harmless guy. Whenever I am out in public, both kids and adults...They always look at me. I think people are really respectful. They look directly into my eyes, and they don't pay too much attention to Peter. Have you ever met any of the other guys in person?
Sure, I've hung out a bit with Fozzie. I've seen him perform at the Comedy Car Hole. Kermit, too. He's a nice guy.
Walter: I bet you're as attentive and look right at them as well.
Of course. But they've been out of the Hollywood scene for a hot minute. I don't recall them having a personal assistant. Not Fozzie, anyway.
Walter: See, its kind of a non-issue.
I'm just asking for the kids who want to believe that there are no personal assistants. And that Hollywood celebrities are just like you and me. They do everything on their own.
Walter: I think, even if they do see Peter Linz, they still think that.
The Muppets is the number one comedy in the country two weeks running. This had to be a tough transition for you. To suddenly be heaped with praise and glory on your very first movie...Do you think this attention has changed you at all?
Walter: Oh, definitely. Yes. I can't walk down the street without someone running up to me saying, "Thank you, thank you, so much, Jason, for making his movie!" It's a little embarrassing, because I have to say, "I'm not actually Jason Segel. I'm Walter." But I do pass the sentiment onto Jason when I see him.
It must be hard. You and Jason look so much alike. Its easy to see why they chose you to play his brother. I've heard the story about how your were discovered while you were swimming in a hotel pool. But the reason you are in this movie must go much deeper than that...
Don't you see the resembelance? You have to admit, you and Jason look so much alike.
Walter: You know what? We do. We do. The first time I met Jason, he showed me the script. I had to be calmed down. I freaked out a little bit. It was as though he had set up cameras. He had captured my entire life. I felt like he'd been following me around. Because, he basically used my life's story. There were a few moments that he took creative license with. But for the most part, he really captured me. I was a little paranoid about that.
Like Kermit the Frog, you are kind of getting this reputation as being a nice guy.
Walter: Oh, thank you!
Tom Hanks is the king of nice guys in Hollywood. Have you had a chance to meet him yet? Maybe get a few pointers on how to retain your perspective, and always carry that Jimmy Stewart Swagger?
Walter: You know what? I have not had a chance to meet Tom Hanks. But in Kermit the Frog, we do have a short, green Tom Hanks. I have not met the actual man. Look, Kermit leads by example. He's been doing this for fifty some years, and he could be a complete jerk. But he's not. He's the nicest frog. I think that is inspiring. That is a great person to be. No matter what happens after this movie going forward. That's my goal. To just be myself.
There have been a couple of murmurs that The Muppet Show could come back to TV. Have you heard these rumors? Is there any truth to this?
Walter: Ahhhh! ....Sorry, man....I've got to sit down...Really?
I've heard the notion tossed about here and there. I thought maybe you had some inside scoop on the situation?
Walter: The only rumors I've heard are the ones I've helped to start. Yeah, of course that would be incredible. I am just excited to share the Muppets with everyboy. If I were on The Muppet Show, I'd be the guy who'd bring celebrities in just to meet them. Or arrange for them to go to different places, and do different gigs. I just want to help them share the third greatest gift everywhere.
There was this campaign to get all of you guys to host The Oscars. Billy Crystal didn't want that to happen. He took it over. He shut you guys down like a bank on a Sunday. Is there still a change that you guys might announce a winner, or appear in some capacity, at The Oscars?
Walter: Man, that would be such a thrill. That would be great. But going back to Billy Crystal. He is a great friend of the Muppets. He's done a lot of stuff with them. Actually, you might not know this, but he was in the film. His scene, unfortunately, didn't make the final edit. Bu he was wonderful. He's been a long time friend of the Muppets. As far as being at The Oscars, and maybe even performing? Gosh, I would love that. I would love to see Kermit the Frog get nominated for best leading man in a film. And Bret McKenzie's music? I think he has a real shot at getting an Oscar for his work on this movie.
That almost goes without saying. I can't think of any other original music in a movie this year that even holds a torch to his contributions to The Muppets.
Walter: Right! Exactly. I think it would be a blast for me and Jason Segel to perform Man or Muppet. All of the Muppets should get up and sing Rainbow Connection. That would be so cool.
You'd have to include Billy in that musical number.
Walter: Definitely. I'd be happy too! Am I man, or am I Muppet, or am I Billy Crystal? That would be funny. I think we could do a version like that.
Maybe you aught to be writing The Oscars...
Walter: Oh...No, no! I dabble...
What happens next for you? Are you going to branch out? Maybe take on an action adventure movie?
Walter: My place is with The Muppets. I have found my home. As far as what comes next...We have been so busy promoting this film, there hasn't been a lot of talk about what comes next. Although, I had a couple of ideas. I think it would be cool for all of us to do an action-adventure sequel to The Bourne Identity. We could call it Bourne Yesterday. Or we could do a biopic, like how Jason and I got together for the first time. I would call it How I Met My Jason Segel.
Sylvester Stallone is still bringing in late stragglers to The Expendables 2. I can't see why they wouldn't want you to be part of that cast...
Walter: Oh, yeah, definitely. And I bet he'd love to work with Kermit the Frog and the gang.
Do you think you could hold your own in the action genre?
Walter: I'd certainly like to give it a try. I did my own stunts in this movie. How different could it be?
Before we go, what are your Holiday plans? And what do you hope to get this season?
Walter: I've gotten more than I could ask for. Its tough. What does a person ask for when all of their dreams have come true? As far as Christmas plans, I am planning on being invited over to Amy Adams' house. She cooks a great Christmas dinner. I want to hang out with her, and her husband, and her sweet little girl. Hopefully I will get to do a whole lot more with the Muppets. We are going to go caroling. Jason Segel and I like to do Karaoke on Tuesday nights. We'll try to do that here soon. And I plan on seeing The Muppets a couple more times.
I hear that Rashida Jones is a little upset that you snubbed her Christmas invite over Amy's...
Walter: What? No! You know what...I think her and Kermit had a little...Hmm...I don't want to start anything...But there was a little tension on set between Kermit, and Piggy, and Rashida. Did you hear about that? I think TMZ did a piece on that. Look, I really shouldn't be talking about this...