Talk about surreal: I'm standing with a group of reporters on a train platform at L.A.'s Union Station, and we're interviewing Miss Piggy as if she's a real person. Not only that, she's charming the hell out of us.
Question: "We're on the set of your sequel, 'The Muppets [Most Wanted].' What are you most excited for fans to be seeing?"
Piggy: "Well, moi, naturally! I’m very excited to be giving the world more of moi. The last movie was so successful and that was largely, in part, due to moi so we are, of course, doing the sequel which will feature even more of moi, I’m happy to say. I actually get a solo in this movie that I do not have to sing with somebody else. The last one, I had to do a solo with Amy Adams. This one, I do not have to share the stage with anyone."
The strange thing is, we can see the man behind the curtain. We can recognize that we are actively engaging in conversation with something that is not actually alive. And yet the illusion persists.
Q: "We’ve heard that there is going to be a wedding this season that may involve a pig. Is that going to be with you?"
Piggy: "Let’s see. How much do I want to say? I do have a beautiful white dress that has a veil and a very long train in this movie. I’m not going to say what it’s used for but I do get to wear it and you’ll get to see me in it."
Ah, yes. The wedding. The reported nuptials between Piggy and Kermit continue a thread from the last movie where it was revealed that Kermit had at some point in the past jilted Piggy at the altar - a source of tension between the two that was thankfully resolved by the end of that film and which appears to be moving toward a more permanent resolution in the sequel (hence the "special ring on a special finger" pointed out by one of my fellow journalists). Of course, leave it to Piggy to plan an extravagant ceremony at the world-famous Tower of London.
"Two of [the] days [we shot in London] were at the Tower of London, and this is, I’m told, a location that hasn’t ever allowed a major film crew inside the walls to shoot," says producer Todd Lieberman. "So, shooting inside the Tower of London with the Muppets while tourists go by saying, 'What is going on?' was beyond. It was really, really special."
So then what are we doing on a train platform in Los Angeles, located 5,400 miles away from the famed British capital?
"This is where we’re getting on a train to go to Europe," remarks Piggy. "I love Europe. It’s a wonderful country."
"You’re taking the train from Los Angeles to Europe?" someone asks.
"Yes! Duh!" answers Piggy. "How else would you go? I mean, really."
"Ok guys, gather round and listen up! If we're gonna go on a world tour, well, I figured we should do it in classic style, right? So I've booked us on a tour train!"
These are the lines being spoken by Kermit when I first arrive - or rather, the lines being spoken by voice actor/puppeteer Steve Whitmire, who has been voicing the most famous of all Muppets since Jim Henson's death in 1990. On his forehead, Whitmire wears a Kermit-green headband holding a microphone.
On the platform beside him, a luggage cart has been loaded with guitar and cello and violin and drum cases, along with a sign bearing the "Muppet Show" logo that currently sits in two separate pieces. Enjoying a renewed burst of popularity following the events of the last film, Kermit and friends are embarking on a grand tour of the European continent - a trip that will, conveniently enough, see them becoming caught up in a jewel-heist caper. So where are Gary and Mary (Jason Segel and Amy Adams) in all this?
"I don’t know," huffs Piggy. "If you want to write them a post card and address it to them, you may. I really don’t see the point of it myself. This is a Muppet movie you know. Nobody really cares about the humans."
Maybe Kermit can shed some more light?
"[Their absence is] not actually addressed," says the green guy. "It’s just, we’re moving on from where we left off in the last movie. So Gary and Mary...just sort of aren’t a part of this particular story. It will all come clean in, come clear in the first scene. You will immediately know."