Kermit the frog

Muppet, cuckold?

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[Ed's note: This interview has been expanded with online bonus content.]

You seem as popular as ever, to the point where you had to reschedule this very interview a few times. To what do you owe your decades-spanning popularity?
Well, it’s interesting. I think not a lot of competition is one thing. There aren’t that many other singing, dancing frogs in show business, and most of them don’t talk much either. I think that has something to do with it. There aren’t that many short green stars in Hollywood outside of Yoda and that gecko lizard guy. He’s great. In fact, we know each other; we correspond. But I think that has something to do with it. I like to think I entertain people too, but I think a lot of it is mostly lack of competition.

When do you think we’ll finally see a frog President?
Gee, I don’t know. Actually, the truth of the matter is I think as an amphibian-American, I’m not actually allowed to run for office, and really the only polls I know anything about are tadpoles. So I’m kind of out of the running, I think. I’d probably have to hop for President, rather than run.

The blogosphere tells me that you’re on President-elect Obama’s short list to head the EPA, though.
Wow.

If asked, what green initiatives would you like to see enacted?
Well, I have to think—should I answer this like most of the people who are on his short list answer it and not answer it? Or should I answer it? I would love to do that job. I would love to serve my country. I would love to work on some committee that certainly benefits those of us who are quite low on the food chain, and that includes George Bush at this point, I think. So anything I can do to help out, I’ll be happy to get involved. You know, by the way, Obama and I wear similar clothing. He’s bigger than me but we’re both spindly, according to Arnold Schwarzenegger anyway, so I’m in good company.

How has Manhattan changed since you and your merry gang took it over all those years ago?
Well, we didn’t take it for long, it was only like for one summer, and that was back in the Ed Koch days. These days, with Mayor Bloomberg, things have certainly changed—something about term limits, I think. But listen, I like it here. I always enjoy it. It’s great for me. This time of year is a little cold—us frogs tend to go dormant in the wintertime, our joints stiffen up and it’s hard to move. Anyhow, I walk down the streets and people are very nice to me if they see me.

New Yorkers aren’t pushy at all?
I’ve discovered over the years that New Yorkers are very nice people; it’s just I’m only about the height of a fire hydrant, so I have to be very careful in traffic.

What do you make of the wild Internet rumors about Miss Piggy being linked to teen heartthrob Zac Efron?
Well, listen. I try not to pay too much attention to that stuff, because I know how those tabloids can be. I’m thinking that maybe Piggy could plant a rumor like that herself. She has been known to do such things. I would check with Zac’s people, myself. I think he might be, at the risk of serious injury to myself, a little young for her, though.

Who would you like to see play Kermit in the Muppets’ biopic?
Oh, that’s interesting. You know, if that should happen, and I have heard the rumors too, you know, I think maybe someone like Noah Wyle would be good. If they play me in slightly older years, maybe Bob Newhart. It’s tough to choose someone to play yourself, and in fact, maybe I could play myself. I pretty much look the same now as I did back then.

You’ve aged very well. Has your nephew Robin gone the way of other child actors and kind of fallen apart?
You know, Robin has kept it together. I don’t quite know exactly why. I think it’s that good clean swamp upbringing that he had. Frogs are a very close family, we’re very large families. You can go home when you live in the swamp. It’s nice, and it’s a simpler kind of life. I mean, listen, I have to say, while I think we should all have access to everything, in the swamp we don’t really have television or computers or computer games; we sort of have to communicate with each other face to face. There’s no electricity there. It’s very dangerous, so I have to go to the local town to get my information. A simpler life.…

I was actually watching Muppets Treasure Island the other night. Great film, by the way.
One of my favorites. You know, I was a big Tim Curry fan before that, a lot of people don’t know, but even in the swamp, we went through a Rocky Horror period.

I was gonna ask you about him, actually. Your fight scene at the end, you show some good moves there. Have you considered a career in martial arts or professional wrestling?
You know, like most actors, I just sort of learned those moves just for the role. I had a coach, Nick—I’ve forgotten Nick’s last name—but Nick was my fencing coach, and he helped me. I did have to do all my own stunts because, again, there’s no short green stunt guys.

Like Jackie Chan? He does his own stunts too.
Yeah, actually Jackie probably could have done my stunts. We’re about the same height.

Is it harder being green or being famous?
Wow. You know what? I think it’s hard being green and famous. Famous, you know, it’s funny, I don’t even think of myself as being famous. I’m a pretty simple guy when I’m not doing television or something. I’m a normal guy, I think most actors are. There’s a couple of them that aren’t, but I think most of them just have their normal lives. And they aren’t green either. It’s much easier being green than it used to be. I know I did that song back in the ’60s, but it’s much easier being green, especially now that Obama’s in office. He’s all for green, too, you know.

The Frog performs with Camp Broadway at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov 27, and the Muppet Whatnot Workshop at FAO Schwarz is now open.

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