James Bobin, the director of the Muppets took the time to sit down with us for an interview about The Muppets and his journey with bringing them back to the big screen. Just in case you don’t know who James Bobin is, he’s a British director and producer and one of the most inventive comedic writers in television. He created, wrote and executive produced the hit series “Flight of the Conchords” for HBO and played a key role in making it one of “Time” magazine’s top five new television series in 2007. The show garnered seven Emmy® nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series. For his work on “Flight of the Conchords,” Bobin received back-to-back nominations for Outstanding Directing and Writing as well as a Writers Guild Award nomination. Bobin currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Francesca, daughter Madelaine and son Jack.
Way back in January I was on the movie set of The Muppets and I saw a lot of the secrets in making the movie. Making a movie with puppets and puppeteers is quite complicated and takes twice as long as filming a regular movie because they have to cut holes in the set, and film twice as many times. Bobin knew going into this that it would take a very long time filming, but he said,
I knew, coming into this that that was what it would involve ’cause, you know, the moment you start using puppets and you don’t have legs, then the world gets a lot harder for you. So I knew it coming into it.
We also asked him if there was a different in directing Muppets verses people. He said it was the same:
I say none because you are directing them to act in a certain way and humans deal with their emotional things with their face and with puppeteers it is with their hands. But the direction you give is the same.
If you read my review you know that I found The Muppet movie to be great for my generation but it was also a movie to introduce a new generation to The Muppets. So we asked Bobin “What did you do to make the Muppets fresh for this generation?” He said the secret to that was just letting The Muppets be true to themselves and Miss Piggy, well all of them I thought were very true to who they always have been.
But each character would then have their own moment to show the thing they do, so it could make sense if you had no idea who they are.
An interesting fact that I learned was that The Muppets were filmed in England for 5 years.
It was written by Americans and performed by Americans, but the director and the technical staff were all English. And the actual Muppet Theater itself is an old musical theater, which is a London thing rather than a New York thing. So it felt very English in a weird way. But also I think the tone of it, the sense of the, sense of humor is really quite English.
We also asked him what he thought of working with Jason Segel and he said it was quite easy. It turns out that they had the same vision and wanted the same thing for the movie so they got along great.
I mean, you can’t ask for more than that because I mean he really cares about it and so really always gives extra a hundred and ten percent which is fantastic. So as a director I couldn’t ask for more.
The Muppets is now in theaters and you should go see it. It’s a fantastic generational movie.
Disney/Dreamworks paid for my travel and expenses for the press junket.