Jason Segel on 'The Muppets': More music, less nudity
Jason Segel has already had a number of high points in his young career: Becoming a Judd Apatow protege, starring in the long-running sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" and penning "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," in which he also starred (and, yes, bared all).
But it's a new spin on "The Muppets," which the actor stars in and co-wrote with "Marshall" director Nicholas Stoller, that Segel says he's most proud of. At CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, the actor (who was joined on stage by co-star Amy Adams) screened a quick behind-the-scenes look at the movie, due out on Nov. 23.
Moviegoers can look forward to four new musical numbers, he said, as well as a new Muppet named Walter who appears as Segel's roommate. And no, Segel assured the crowd of movie exhibitors, audiences won't have to see him naked again in this film.
Backstage, Segel described the struggle for a greenlight. "It was the hardest thing to get made that I've ever been involved in," he said. " This is a relatively high budget for a movie with puppets. It cost more than 'Sarah Marshall,' I'll tell you that. And it's such a beloved franchise. It was tricky to get everyone to agree on a script, on a budget, on a concept."
Segel also admitted that working with puppets presented more challenges than he'd initially anticipated, and that he was often forced to rewrite jokes due to logistics or financial constraints.
"You can imagine a shot of 10 Muppets running away from a building. And then when the building explodes behind you and you get there, you realize the Muppets are being puppeteered and there's no way to do a shot of Muppets running away in a wide shot with a building exploding in the background at our budget. So you start writing jokes that kind of make fun of that idea," he explained.
Segel's impetus to stick with the project came, he said, from his deep affection for the Muppets, which had a strong influence on the actor when he was a child. His mother had recorded episodes of the 1977 season in which Peter Sellers appeared in a variety of character guises, and the family would watch the episodes together.
"I remember as I got older re-watching it, thinking that watching it as a kid I still thought it was hilarious when I had no idea what was going on. And my parents were enjoying it on a whole other level. And that's what I think is genius about the Muppets. No one in our family was being condescended" to.
-- Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas
Photo: Jason Segel and assorted characters from "The Muppets." Credit: Walt Disney Pictures