Inside the 'Muppets Most Wanted' Premiere: Tina Fey and Her Accent, James Bobin on Shooting in the Tower of London
The Muppets took Hollywood on Tuesday with Disney’s premiere of Muppets Most Wanted, the sequel to Disney’s reboot of The Muppets.
Throngs of fans yelled for Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey as well as guests such as Terry Crews, while Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy did a shtick at one end of the red carpet. Gervais even tried to show a selfie of himself and Kermit.
The movie, changing gears from the wistful and nostalgic tone of the first one, is a nominal homage to the Great Muppet Caper, the sequel to 1979's The Muppets Movie. The new movie sees the gang touring Europe -- unbeknownst to them, Kermit has been replaced by the world’s number-one criminal, who also happens to look a lot like Kermit; the real Kermit is in a Siberian gulag.
“In the history of the Muppets films, every movie is its own story so it’s in the lexicon of the Muppets to have a wholesale new idea,” said producer Todd Lieberman to The Hollywood Reporter, about the movie's change of pace, at the afterparty held at Hollywood & Highland’s Annex.
By upping the wackiness quotient, director James Bobin was able to attract more comedians and more cameos
“There’s a weird love of Muppets in the comedy community,” he said. “A lot of people who work in comedy, one of their first laughing experiences was while watching The Muppets in the 1970s. So it’s this bond we all share. And when you ask people to take part in the movie, they normally say yes.”
In fact, the worldwide popularity of the Muppets is how the production was able to shoot the movie’s climax in and around the Tower of London, according to Bobin. In his time working in London, Bobin says he’s never seen anyone given permission to shoot on the royal grounds.
“They turned down Bond but they let Muppets film there,” he said. “So someone in the Crown Estates is a Muppets fan, which I totally love.”
One person making her entrance into the Muppet world was Fey, playing the head of the gulag. She said she based her Russian accent on Natasha, the TV character from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. And as far as the singing and dancing?
“I just went for it. Bret McKenzie (the movie’s songwriter) let us do hundreds and hundreds of takes until we got it. I imagine there’s a lot of scrapped vocal takes on the floor.”