An Interview With The Director of Muppets Most Wanted James Bobin! #MuppetsMostWantedEvent

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Hey All!

On my recent Media trip for Disney I had the fantastic opportunity to chat with the Director of Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted James Bobin. If you’re not familiar with him you may recognize his work from the last Muppets Movie and Flight of The Conchords. He was very gracious to spend a few minutes from his busy schedule to chat with us.

I started out the interview as I had to know 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 honestly, they’re all a total joy to work with.  I’m a huge fan of the Muppets. I grew up watching the Muppets as a kid, so working with them for me is like working with my heroes, so I can’t say any of them are necessarily difficult to work with.

Really? I would think Constantine might be a little difficult to work with?

JAMES BOBIN:

Yeah, He has his moments, but still at heart he is not all bad Constantine, you know? 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. It’s like working with Luke Skywalker, it’s crazy. Like little Kermit is like my hero growing up so meeting him and getting to work with him and even write lines for him is just amazing.

Well, that could lead to the next one…

JAMES BOBIN:   

Yeah, there you go, just a mash up of Star Wars and Muppets.

A Star Wars and Muppets Movie would be the best movie ever!

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So what is the difference between shooting the first movie and then the second movie?

JAMES BOBIN:  

Oh, for me obviously it was the slightly more difficult on the first movie. I’d never worked puppets before, so it was a very big experiential learning curve of how to frame shots, how to make this world feel realistic, that these puppets were live breathing people who are interacting with humans and the world’s just the world we live in. The recognizable world we live in happened to have puppets in it. That idea I love, and that’s a very important part of it.

And that was quite different. The training of the first movie was just getting the movie made. I think just getting to that level for me was an achievement. I could make a movie that like worked on that level. And so for this one I just wanted to push that a bit further. Because the last movie is kinda set in the theater for a lot of the final act. I thought this time we should just get out and about a bit more and just do some slightly more adventurous, bigger stuff. And, obviously, the fact that the movie’s kind of a caper movie with some criminal stuff in it, feels like you can do bigger action sequences.

When writing this film did you take any inspiration from your funny show Flight Of The Conchords? Do you think that adult humor and childrens’ humor are closer than we think?

JAMES BOBIN:

Good questions. I’ll do them in the reverse order. Adult humor and child humor, yeah they are kind of different but they can be the same. I mean, we’re all big kids, really, I am, I know for sure. And so often I find things like, things falling over, I will find that funny forever. Like Tom and Jerry makes me laugh as much as my kids might laugh. And that’s always gonna be the way. But sometimes it’s useful to have a thing that works on two levels, that they like it for some reason and we like it for a different reason.

And often that’s because we’re putting clever words into the mouths of puppets and so they see a blue thing with a funny nose and white hair, which is funny, but we hear them say smart words. And I love it! That idea works for both adults and children. Fom Conchord’s, yeah of course! I think whenever you make anything you can’t help but put an imprint of yourself in it to a degree. So when you do like a show like Conchords and move into Muppets you can’t help but bring a bit of that, your personality, with you.

Especially when you have half of the Conchords working on the movie with you, of course. Brett writes the songs and so Brett and I worked together for a good number of years now. Be it set out on the streets of New York and Conchords or set on the streets of London and Muppets, there’s some of it’s Brett in many ways.

This film had, obviously, a very international flavor. Is there any thought ever to stopping in Sweden for the Swedish Chef?

JAMES BOBIN:

No because then you’d tell he’s not Swedish. What he speaks is not Swedish it’s some weird amalgam of Jim’s kind of rubbishy Swedish, like made-up Swedish so obviously they had him talking real Swedish, and then someone actually speaking real Swedish, they’d go, “Hang on a minute that’s not the same thing,” so no we’re very particular to avoid Sweden.  The locations were largely chosen because I’m a fan of those kind of old-style caper movies and they’re always in a place like Monte Carlo and Berlin and Madrid, it’s a very international feel. Those places had felt to me like of interest and, you know, I like the idea of Muppets going global. That to me is interesting. That it’s not just about U.S. and the U.K., But they have a global interest. And that’s really a fun thing to me.

After the interview James was kind enough to take a group shot with us in the room.

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This movie is fantastic and so is the music. Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted is in theaters now! I highly recommend you run out and see it!

I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

Photos courtesy of Momstart.com and Disney.

I was provided an all expense paid trip to attend this interview by Disney. All opinions are my own.

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