It's been long confirmed that Jason Segel will not be starring in or writing the next Muppets movie, but a recent update from the actor dashed even the small hope of a cameo. As the man largely responsible for bringing the Muppets back into the spotlight, the loss of Segel puts a big question mark on the sequel.
But fear not, Muppet fans. We spoke with the first film's co-writer and the director of "Five-Year Engagement," Nicholas Stoller, about the progress he's made on the second film's script and how he sees Segel factoring into the making of the sequel.
As Segel's frequent collaborator, Stoller sees himself asking for notes on the script for the next Muppet movie. "I definitely would want to show him the script and get his notes. He loves the Muppets and knows them so well," Stoller said. "I think getting notes from him and getting thoughts from him would be extremely helpful."
Since the main human character from the first film won't be around for the second, Stoller said the focus will shift back to the Muppets, specifically Kermit and Miss Piggy, as it did in the original films. "I think the first movie needed to reintroduce all the characters, so we need the human-puppet duo of Gary and Walter to kind of help audience who weren't familiar with the Muppets to learn or relearn who they are," Stoller said. "As of now, I would say Kermit and Piggy are a little bit more at the center, like the original ones. Walter's in there, but it's still in the very beginning stages of writing."
With Segel's character Gary out of the picture, his on-screen brother, Walter, certainly has an interesting road ahead of him as the newest member of the Muppets. Stoller told us that he sees that new dynamic as a fun one to explore.
"Jason and I really felt like we completed Gary's story. The story of Gary and Walter is that now Walter is joining the Muppets and Gary's joining the human world, as described in 'Man or Muppet.' When you follow that to its natural conclusion, now Walter is a full-fledged member of the Muppets," he said. "He's the newest member of the Muppets, so it's kind of fun to explore that kind of comedy and that emotional stuff, but he's now a member of the Muppets. He's not going to leave it anymore."
Almost as essential as Segel to the success of "The Muppets," Bret McKenzie's songs earned him an Academy Award. Stoller hopes that McKenzie will return to write more songs for the second film, which he says will be another musical. He and the first film's director James Bobin are currently writing songs into the screenplay.
"[Music] is central to the Muppet movies. They're musicals. I hope and pray that Bret comes back to do this one because he's such a genius," Stoller said. "James and I, we both come at stuff from music. James [Bobin], especially with Flight of the Conchords and now the first Muppet movie, really comes at it from a music perspective. We start thinking about how to tell the story through the songs. We've started writing song ideas into script, the way Jason and I did for the first one."
Tell us what you think of the "Muppets" movie update in the comments or on Twitter!