The Muppets are headed to Europe for their new film, Muppets Most Wanted, but while the audience in the big D23 live action presentation were treated to a video link-up with Miss Piggy, none of the felt-covered folk gave interviews. Instead, they sent Ty Burrell – who plays Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon – to face the throngs.
Burrell admitted to being a massive Muppet fan, and said that he agreed pretty much on the spot to take the role, before his agent asked him to go through the usual deal-making process. “It was such a warm part of the week in my household when I was young, so when this came along, I was extremely excited and had a hard time believing it. Let’s face it, it’s tough to find someone who isn’t a Muppet fan, something I’m learning more and more. Everyone seems really excited about there being another movie.”
Given that he’s playing a French law enforcement officer, was the actor tempted to go full Clouseau with his accent? “It was very hard to resist the Clouseau, I must admit," he laughed. "You always want the running joke about no-one being able to understand him, but luckily we didn’t just completely rip off that character.” Still, he got plenty of banter with Sam the Eagle, here tracking a frog criminal menace known as Constantine who switches places with Kermit on the Muppets’ world tour. “Sam is a very stubborn Eagle!” said Burrell. “He’s uber-American and my character, Jean Pierre is the European side, so it’s us basically us bad-mouthing each other.”
This sequel promises more music, written once more by Oscar-winning Muppets man Bret McKenzie. And Burrell didn’t miss out on the musical action. “I have a song, written by Bret. Mine is more of a patter song, but really fun and funny. I’ve done a couple of musicals in my life, but they were back in college, so this was truly fun.” For all his nerves, however, he’ll need more preparation as he gets set to voice a whale named Bailey in Finding Dory, which was briefly talked up yesterday. “I’m excited to get started on it. I’m a huge fan of Pixar. I’m going to put on 1100 pounds to play him...”
Producer Todd Lieberman, who also worked on the first film, addressed the question of how much Most Wanted would channel The Great Muppet Caper. “I think there was probably some subconscious element going on there", he revealed, "[although it's] more of an honouring than anything else. But the feeling of the first movie leant on nostalgia and emotion, and on setting up the characters, and this one takes advantage of that. Expect "madcap mayhem and crazy fun humour", said Lieberman, who promised that that Muppety heart wouldn't be sacrificed along the way.
And despite the setting, London doesn’t suffer as much this time, despite potential trouble from the demolition-happy Crazy Eddie. “We shot inside the walls of the Tower Of London, which was a massive undertaking and a massive deal, but the name Kermit opens a lot of doors. Plus, we don't blow it up...”
Muppets Most Wanted will travel to UK cinemas on March 28 next year.