With the highly anticipated Forgetting Sarah Marshall and his regular gig on How I Met Your Mother, Jason Segel is gearing up for his dream project. He is writing a new Muppet movie to bring back the Jim Henson puppets to their former glory. His simple story about the gang putting on a show to save the studio will utilize the classic characters and fully developed human characters.
“It’s like the early ’80s Muppets movies,” said Segel. “Bringing it back to the Muppets putting on a show and working together, there’s such a sense of hope that comes from the old Muppet movies. I just remember watching and thinking I could do anything. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be writing a Muppet movie. Maybe it’s a particularity for me, but Kermit is the man. Kermit’s the original Jimmy Stewart, the original Tom Hanks. He’s like the everyman when you’re 10 years old. ”
A Muppet geek, Segel knows where the recent films like Muppets from Space went wrong. “Well, I don’t want to point any fingers, but a new approach has been taken that the Muppets were some sort of novelty act,” said Segel. “The original movies, the Muppets are all treated like they’re actors in the movie. The movie was written as though they were proper characters and they were also filled with these brilliant performances. Charles Grodin in The Great Muppet Caper is unbelievable. Nowadays it’s just someone walking through going, ‘Hey, was that Tom Selleck?’ That doesn’t interest me.”
He connected with The Henson Company when they made puppets for a scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but had to pitch Disney, who now owns the Muppet rights. “They haven’t really been doing much with the Muppets. So I went to Disney and I took this meeting. ‘So, what’s this all about, kid?’ That’s how executives talk. ‘I would like to write the new Muppet movie.’ And there is a weird spattering of laughter and then uncomfortable silence, like, ‘Really? That’s why you’re here?’ And I gave them the pitch and they really loved it. They bought it in the room and brought [Nick] Stoller on to write it with me because he’s just the best creative partner you hope for.”