UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) -- It's not easy being green — or staging a comeback.
That's exactly what Kermit the Frog and his pals are attempting with "The Muppets," their first big-screen foray since "Muppets in Space" orbited theaters in 1999. In their newest adventure, set for release Nov. 23, Kermit's felt-covered entourage reunite with the help of humans Gary and Mary (Jason Segel and Amy Adams), as well as a new muppet named Walter.
During a break from shooting last January on the same Universal Studios soundstage where the original "Phantom of the Opera" was filmed in 1924, Kermit (with some assistance from veteran puppeteer Steve Whitmire) discussed returning to Hollywood from the swamp, dating Miss Piggy and crushing on "Parks and Recreation" actress Rashida Jones.
AP: What's it been like working with the gang on this film? It feels like it's been a long time since we've seen you.
Kermit: It's been like 10 or 12 years. It's a good reason for the gang to get back together. Fozzie was actually hibernating, and we had to pull him out because it's winter time. There were lots of logistics like that we had to deal with before filming, like getting all kinds of permits for farm animals, you know, because that's what a lot of us are.
AP: Where does this film find Kermit the Frog in life?
Kermit: It finds me in a rather unusual place. I'm like Hugh Hefner in frog skin. In real life, I'm a very simple frog. When I'm not working, I just go back to the swamp. In this movie, I'm still playing Kermit the Frog, oddly, but it's like another version of me. I wanted to stretch myself dramatically. It's about time I got taken seriously in Hollywood.
AP: This stage was first used in "Phantom of the Opera" and is reportedly haunted. Any spookiness during filming?
Kermit: Yeah, this isn't actually the real Muppet Theater. It looked enough like where we did the real "Muppet Show" that we thought it would make a good set. Things do happen. One day, I got locked in my dressing room for hours. I don't think that was a ghost though. I think that had something to do with Miss Piggy not wanting me to come out at that moment.
AP: What is the relationship status with you and Miss Piggy these days?
Kermit: Piggy and I keep in touch. We do have a relationship of sorts. It's just not that whole married thing. We never actually got married. There's been confusion about that. Maybe you can clear that up when you write this story. I'm a bachelor. I'm still playing the field. It's always great getting back with Piggy. She can be a little dramatic at times.
AP: You have several celebrities providing cameos in the film. Who has been your favorite?
Kermit: Well, we had Mickey Rooney of all people. He did a small piece, and so did Alan Arkin. These are guys that we would've worked with in the early days of "The Muppet Show," but I must say there's a special place in my little froggy heart for Rashida Jones. If you get a good look at her, you'll understand why. Don't tell Miss Piggy I said that though.
AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang/.
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