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{Muppets Monday} An Interview with @Disney The Muppets Director James Bobin

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THE MUPPETS James Bobin and Jason Segel

JAMES BOBIN (Director) is a British director and producer and one of the most inventive comedic writers in television. In a recent interview, he talked about how he grew up watching the Muppets, he described what it was like to work with the Muppets and which Muppet he is most like.


Q: Did you grow up watching the Muppets?

James Bobin: I did.  Well, in England, in England we think it’s an English show because in England you watch hours as a kid and you watch the shows on TV on Sunday afternoons and, you know, it was a show which was shot in England, it was made in England for five years, everyone who made it lived in England.

Born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Bobin graduated from Oxford University and went on to work at the BBC series “Fantasy Football League,” where he directed two seasons of the hit program. He then went on to produce and direct two seasons of “The 11 O’Clock Show” for Channel 4 in England, which is where he met Cohen and was nominated for a BAFTA Television Award. In 2000, he wrote and directed “Thumb Candy,” the first-ever documentary for Channel 4 in England about the history of video games.


Q: Do you have children? How much do they love the Muppets?

James Bobin: I do my daughter’s 4 and my son’s 2. So they are the perfect target age. My daughter watched the show for the first time three years ago and immediately she, after the show finished, said, “I want to watch the one with the pig again.  The pig’s my favorite character.”  And so she was just drawn to Miss Piggy in a way that, you know, girls are. And that’s really clever.  You can do a character like that which girls identify with and love straight away.  And she loves Piggy.  It’s her absolute favorite thing.

Bobin currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Francesca, daughter Madelaine and son Jack.


Q: What was it like working with Jason Segel who is an actor but also the writer.  Did you have different views?

James Bobin: No, no, no.  ‘Cause obviously, no, it’s easy because obviously when I came on we were still working together and working on the script.  And so when you do a job you do it ’cause you like the script.  He’s a very affable guy, as I’m sure you know.  So we got on very well.  We both are Muppet fans, we’re coming from the same place. And, you know, he, he’s basically, you know, a six foot three Muppet, so it’s a delight to have him on set because he’s a very useful, you know, he’s a burst of great energy all the time.


Q: Did you find the production designer brought Broadway elements to the movie? Was that something you really wanted to incorporate?

James Bobin: Yes. Because I, I really love, I’ve always loved the Muppet Theater from the Muppet show.  I really felt that show worked because they were in a theater. So, yeah, no, it was really important for me that we had some, you know, it should feel vintage.  I mean, lots of people came to set were really kind of emotional about the Muppet Theater.  People just came in and were getting, like, choked up by it.  And it’s such a lovely thing that that happens, that people have such an emotional connection to it.


Q: Bret McKenzie your first choice, or was that an obvious choice for you?

James Bobin: Yeah.  I mean, yeah, he’s one of my best friends so, uh, you know, when I got the gig I said, I phoned up pretty much straight away and said, “Are you… what are you doing?  You… you know…”  And he’s around.  And he’s also, on Conchords we’d watch the Muppet show quite a lot, I mean, we, in season two of Conchords, we did an episode where Mel, who is their fan, sings a song. And in that song there are singing cookies because of the Muppet show. Because always the Muppet show is one of our things we used to do in our spare time. When writing we’d just relax and watch Muppet show and so Bret’s a huge fan too and so was very keen to be involved.

Bobin 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.


Q: How was your first encounter with the Muppets?

James Bobin: I met them when they weren’t being puppeteered.  So they were just in boxes and it was still really amazing ’cause they just feel like they were sleeping. And it was really amazing to see them so alive and yet so static.  It was just amazing.  But that was interesting because you get a real sense of their size.  You don’t really, Muppets are so, when you shoot it they always look roughly the same size.  But in the real world they’re all different sizes.  Like, you know, Kermit’s probably this big and Fozzie’s about this big, they’re completely different sizes.


Q: If you were a Muppet, which one would you most be like?

James Bobin: Well, I have to be Kermit don’t I because I’m the one in charge.  I have to like keep all the plates spinning all the time, you know, while chaos ensues all around me.

With secret, signature, celebrity cameos, Disney’s THE MUPPETS opens in theaters everywhere on November 23rd.

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  1. i love this interview! i would be ms piggy!

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