Walter, the Newest Muppet, Dishes on The Muppets and Miss Piggy
Two weeks before the premiere of the first Muppets theatrical release in 12 years, The Muppets star Walter sat down with Spinoff Online and described a typical day of filming: wake up, brush his teeth, then get out of the box he’s kept in on set.
“They had this nice box I got to sleep in, very comfortable box,” Walter explained as he ran an orange hand over his hair.
We did mention that Walter’s a Muppet, right?
“Do you want something to drink? It doesn’t cost anything!” Walter asked, gesturing wildly around his Beverly Hills hotel room stocked with soda and snacks. After introducing his “friend” Peter Linz (actually, the puppeteer who operates Walter and provides his voice), he jumped into a discussion of his role as Walter the Muppet in Disney’s The Muppets.
“The character Walter that I play in this movie is not so different from the Walter I am in real life,” he admitted. “I grew up in a small town, I’m a big, big fan of the Muppets — well, not literally. I’m only 18 inches tall.”
With a glance toward the snack table, Walter added that his biggest challenge on set was that, “Sometimes the craft services table was a little tall and I couldn’t quite reach the brownies.”
In the film, Walter plays a Muppets super-fan who, along with human co-stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams, helps get Kermit and the gang back together to save the Muppet Theater from evil oil baron Tex Richman (played by Chris Cooper). Describing the role as a “dream,” Walter said he’s unsure what the next step in his career will be now that he’s an official Muppet.
“I don’t know if you know it, but I do a lot of singing and dancing in the film,” Walter said. “But I see myself doing more singing and dancing! And writing! Actually, Jason and I are working on a pilot called How I Met My Jason Segel.”
Directing, however, is off the table.
“I think directing is kind of cliche, ‘Oh, I’ve acted, now I go into directing,’” the newest Muppet said, waving a felt hand dismissively.
This led to Walter recounting a typical day on set, an experience he documented extensively for posterity. “I actually kept a journal because I wanted to remember every moment,” he said. “I’ve gone back and read it since then, and I didn’t hold back in keeping track. It’s like, ‘Woke up. Climbed out of box.’”
“Maybe I should rethink the whole writing thing,” he added after a pause.
Walter told Spinoff that he was lucky to work with Segel, who co-wrote the movie and plays his brother Gary.
“Jason is a very talented guy,” he said. “I think possibly he could have a future in this whole acting thing.”
He said he first met Segel at the audition, where their chemistry became apparent during a duet. “I got to choose the song, I think I chose ‘Love Will Keep Us Together,’” Walter said. “It was like we had been singing together all our lives.”
However, there were some rough spots in Walter’s “dream come true.” When reminded that Miss Piggy forgot who he was earlier that day at The Muppets press conference, Walter laughed nervously.
“She does that every time we meet,” he said. “What you witnessed, that was, oh, gosh, at least the 25th time that happened — this morning.”
Still, he denied any tension between the two on set. “Heavens no! She’s just a little intimidating and, frankly, scares me,” Walter clarified.
He did confess, though, that Piggy could be difficult to work with. “For sure my first scene with Miss Piggy was intimidating,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to look her in the eye, which was kind of difficult because I had this whole line I had to deliver to her.”
Like Miss Piggy, singing and dancing also posed challenges for the new Muppet.
“They have such long legs, the dancers, and mine are pretty short,” he said, trailing off as he pointed to his feet, only to realize he’d lost his shoes at some point and was now just wearing socks.
“Oh, that’s embarrassing. Sorry about that,” Walter said, pulling one leg over his shoulder and wrapping the other around his head in an attempt to hide his feet. He then struck a nonchalant pose.
“This is a cool Hollywood thing to not wear shoes!” he said. “Right?”
Returning to the matter at hand, Walter said he’s excited for audiences to see The Muppets, which opens Nov. 23.
“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think people are going to really love this movie, he said. Naming 1979′s The Muppet Movie as his favorite of the original Muppet films, Walter added, “There’s a number of homages to that film [in The Muppets] fans might pick up on. This movie, I know it’s been said before, but it’s a real love letter to the Muppets.”
Ending the interview, Walter explained that while everyone liked to joke around on set, the biggest joke was that Segel made him up.
“Jason has this thing where he was telling people early on I came out of his brain,” he said. “‘How did you get the idea for the movie and Walter?’ ‘Oh, it came out of my brain!’ Jason seems to think lots of things come out of his brain.”
“I passed him one time in the hall and he had this great-looking muffin,” the Muppet recalled. “I said, ‘Wow, where’d you get that muffin?’ and he said, ‘My brain!’”