I will not speak of the dark roads I traveled to meet the most infamous frog in the world, nor the damned souls I met along the way. I know only that looking into the face of Constantine is looking into the face of pure evil. The cold dead eyes, the wiggling flipper feet… there was no kindness in his stuffed plush form. No mercy. Thanks to a few peculiar physical quirks, I was allowed an audience and after a time, he warmed up to me, sharing secrets that will sear the soul of any who dare breach them. He currently stars in the role he was born to play: Kermit the Frog’s sinister doppelganger in Muppets Most Wanted. He talked with me about the project, as well as the burgeoning opportunities in the business of evil, during a lengthy 1:1 interview.
Constantine: You are speaking to me, what do you want? Ooh, you have evil mustache!
Question: I do. I have a lucrative side career tying virgins to train tracks.
C: Oh, very nice!
Q: We’re franchising.
C: Oh really? You ever think about being a Number 2?
Q: I’ll consider it. Do I have to dance like a monkey?
C: Yes. Yes. You have library card?
Q: Yeah, I think so. Or I can pick one up.
C: This is very important for Number 2 to me.
Q: To have a library card?
Q: Why so?
C: Well, because you need to check out book on things that we are going to steal. You return book of course.
Q: Of course, of course.
C: We are respectful to library system. But you need library card.
Q: Did you ask Ricky [Gervais] to get a library card?
C: I did.
Q: You did. And how did he respond?
C: He had one. He’s had one for many years I believe. But I do not believe he goes to library.
C: No. I think he uses Amazon. Just orders books.
Q: And you’re not . . . I would assume that you’re not okay with that, with the respect of the library that you have?
C: Oh, he can do what he wants, you know? He’s his own man. But I prefer to go and eh check out the book. Sometimes on things that maybe I am not plotting evilly against. You know. Nice fiction. Cookbook.
Q: The occasional travelogue?
C: Ooh, that sounds nice. I’ve never done that, but that sounds lovely.
Q: So what made you decide to take a vacation from your life of crime to come do the movie? What was the impetus?
C: Ah well, Kermit the Frog, ah we are a distant relative. Very, very distant. Eh, he had heard of me because we are cousins, and there was part in movie for evil Russian frog named Constantine. And I happened to be evil Russian frog named Constantine. And he thought I was right for role. So he said, “Can you take break from evilly plotting and do some movie plotting?” And I said, “Sure, why not? It will be good time.”
Q: How much of an adjustment was it on set to get into that vibe? Was there a lot of improvisation?
C: You know, there was script. But I just tended to say what come to top of mind. So I think, maybe they retrofit script to serve my evil plotting?
Q: Did you perform your own stunts?
C: I did, yes! I perform all my own stunts, I beat up twelve Russian guard, on my own. That is all in camera, believe it or not.
Q: Is it?
C: Yes, there no CG. No CG Constantine, it is actually me fighting stuntmen, you know? Russian stuntmen guard. But we did that as real stunt, and even leaping. The leaping, what is called, parkour. Parkour scene when we slip mole on Kermit? That is all real. The flipping, and real actual frog flips and jumps and leaps.
Q: Have you done parkour before? Did you have to learn it for the film?
C: I learn for movie. I am normally agile in real life, but we did have to do some little rehearsal for it. It took very long time to shoot. If it would have been in real world, the reason why it take so long is that you have such, you have camera shot here, then you move camera, then you have angle, then you have move around. It is a lot more difficult than in real life when you can just leap and jump and go whichever way the wind take you.
Q: One would imagine that in a life dedicated to the perpetration of evil, such as yours, Hollywood makes a natural fit.
Q: Have you thought about a career beyond this? Having established yourself as the go-to guy any time somebody needs an evil frog named Constantine?
C: I’m your man, yes. I am always thinking of things to do. You know, there are new ways. If it’s not in film, maybe on Netflix like I said, there’s, you know, opportunities to create on, you know, episodic . . . eh, binge viewing for my show idea, House of Toad. And another one I came up with was Green Is the New Black. That would be good one. I will do whatever. If I am called to sing and dance again, I will do. I am happy to sing and dance.
Q: Could you see yourself branching out into directing?
C: I do not know. There are a lot of decision to make. I am good at decision making with evil plotting. But with directing, eh, it just seem like every second there someone coming to question for you. I like to be the one that says, “This is it, we’re going to do it, NO QUESTION!” And in movie times, there is always someone coming up with question for director. “Does this look good? How ‘bout this makeups? What about this wigs? Where are we going to put the camera? Where do I put the lights?” Blech . . . I don’t think I would like it.
Q: What’s the attraction of evil? You know, as a career? As a lifestyle choice? What brought you to that profession?
C: Well, I come from very hard beginnings. And I think that is hard beginning, uh, influence my life. I was born in pond, outside of Moscow. And, uh, with 800 brothers and sisters, many of whom were eaten by fish.
Q: And you couldn’t speak Russian?
C: No, not a lick, no. Well, you know, once I gained my legs I walked onto cold ground. And think . . . life is difficult for frog. I got to come up with something. What can I do? And, uh, naturally the uh losing of one’s brothers and sisters to fish, can make you, can harden your heart. And make you choose evil ways. Which is what I have done. But, you know, hanging around with these Muppets can soften you a little bit. Not too much! I still have to have an edge, baby.
Q: Your resemblance to Kermit, as is noted, is uncanny . . .
C: I don’t see it.
Q: You don’t see it?
C: No. I do not see resemblance to Kermit Frog. He is very nice. But I do not see a visual . . . no. No resemblance.
Q: Were you approached a lot on set with people who thought you were Kermit?
C: All the time. Every time they are setting up shot, camera man would say, “Kermit, move to your left a little bit,” and I would say, “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, I am not Kermit, I fool you camera man! Ha-ha!” It happen all the time. It still happen today, someone say, “hey Kermit, can you move over this way,” and I say, “I am not Kermit, ha-ha, you fool!”
Q: Which of your fellow performers did you enjoy working with the most on this?
C: Of course, Ricky Gervais. He is a wonderful, he is first human I ever meet. And he is a good friend of mine now. Not in film. In film we are nemesis a little bit, as film go on. But in real life, eh, he is my Number 2. He is my real life . . . I am always going to be number 1, and he will always be my number 2. If you speak to him, tell him this.
Q: So what’s next on your agenda, now that the movie’s wrapped? Are you going to go back in to try another one, or are we back into a life of crime?
C: I would love to be in another movie. I would love to do movie with Meryl Streep maybe, or Dustin Hoffmans.
Q: Do you think Meryl would be open to working on something with you?
C: Why not? She’s never worked with frog before, has she?
Q: I don’t think she has.
C: I don’t know, but there’s probably some project we could work on together.
Q: What are you thinking of, maybe like a Doctor Zhivago remake?
C: I don’t know. I will play evil frog. And she can do whatever she wants. She is good actor, you know.
Q: She is. What was the toughest day on set for you? What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
C: Pretending to be in love with pig. That was the difficult part. In train car. There is moment in train car when I have to come in and pretend to like her. And to seduce her. To seduce pig. Yich, I do not know how Kermit is doing this. It was very difficult. I’m not kidding man. She is very, very demanding, this pig.