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Writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller Talk Muppets

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JASON SEGEL stars in the upcoming Disney “The Muppets” movie as Gary, a new character from Smalltown, USA.  Like his brother Walter, he’s a majorworld-class Muppet fan. “He’s very naive, sweet and innocent, and he’s very much in love with his girlfriend, Mary. He’s torn between his brother and growing into a new phase of maturation where it’s time to be with his girlfriend. He’s lived with his brother forever, so that is his big struggle.”

Jason Segel also helped write the  screenplay with Nicholas Stoller.  He first gained wide attention for his role as Jason, in Judd Apatow’s hit comedy “Knocked Up.” He subsequently wrote the screenplay for, and starred as Peter, in director Nicholas Stoller’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” He also served as co-producer and screenwriter on that film’s sequel “Get Him to the Greek.”

Segel’s other feature film acting credits include “Bad Teacher,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “I Love You, Man.” In addition, he also provided the voice for Vector in the animated hit “Despicable Me.”

NICHOLAS STOLLER (Screenplay by) recently wrapped production on “The Five-Year Engagement,” which he wrote with Jason Segel. Apatow Productions produced the picture, which is about the ups and downs of a man’s five-year engagement with his fiancée. Stoller has also been signed to write the film “Stretch Armstrong” for Universal. The film, to be directed by Rob Letterman and produced by and starring Taylor Lautner, is based on the popular Hasbro toy.

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In a recent interview with Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, they talk about how passionate they are about the Muppets, how they became involved with this project and some of the fun they had while making the movie.

Talking about how Jason and Nick got together to start this project, Jason said, “Well Nick and I had just made Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I had been a crazy puppet lover for a long time.  And I made short films with puppets.” Segel added “I mean it was a childhood dream of mine.  I have a list of dreams that I wanted to publish.  One was being on David Letterman, which I did a few years ago.  One is hosting SNL which I still haven’t done but I think that I will soon.  And then one was make a Muppets movie.”

When asked about their passion for the Muppets and where did their inspiration come from Stoller answered,”Well I think, I think what we look towards was the legacy that they had created with those first three movies and the TV show.  That was really our model and we didn’t have to stray very far from that time or try to update it or anything like that.  The Muppets, their style of humor is pretty timeless and you know, a Muppets movie moves in cycles.”

Segel and Stoller talked about how Disney was really onboard and excited about what they wanted to do in terms of bringing a franchise back to life. They describe how easy it was to work with their Disney executive, Kristen Berg, ” Her office is filled with Muppets.Yeah, it is, filled with Disney paraphernalia and Muppets.  And every image you have of like a studio executive who doesn’t quite get what you’re doing, she was the opposite.” Ultimately Stoller and Segel want the Muppets to return in “full force.”

Q: What was it like working with the Muppets?

Jason Segel: I was saying before I got to do a lot of sitting which was nice. Because I am a good like 2 feet taller than most of the Muppets.

Nick Stoller: The hardest thing was not being like awestruck while filming.  So the way we handled that is we made it so that our characters were awestruck.

Q: The whole family can sit down and watch a Muppets movie.  When you were writing the script how conscious were you of keeping that throughout the movie?

Nick Stoller: Yeah, I mean it was, it was kind of natural that it is just the tone of the Muppets and so there wasn’t, it wasn’t you know, because we both grew up on it, it wasn’t like we attempted to do that so much as a just naturally happened.

Jason Segel: Yeah, that, that just isn’t there to you.  We didn’t have to put much effort into it.  I was really inspired by Toy Story 3 as well in that movie hit on every level.  Kids are watching.  Yeah, it’s because kids are watching a movie about losing their toys.  And parents are watching a movie about losing their children.

Q: Who is your favorite Muppet?

Nick Stoller: I mean you always have to think Kermit first because that’s you know, he’s the best.  But, then Beeker is my favorite.

Jason Segel: Yeah, Beeker’s awesome.

Q: Do you have any plans of doing another movie?

Nick Stoller: Well I’m superstitious and so we’re trying not to think of it until this comes out.  But we’re starting to think of ideas.  I think my main goal is just to try to get the Muppets back to where they belong and you know the forefront of comedy.  And to have, to have our generation get to experience what they had when they were young.  And share that with like their kids.  I just think it would be great.


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

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