The table read is a vital part of the filmmaking process. At a table read all the actors with speaking roles gather (around a big table, as the name suggests) and go through the script, reading out loud their parts. It’s often the first time everybody in a movie gets together, and it’s when the actors and the director start truly zeroing in on the characters in a way that isn’t just theoretical.
It turns out that when you do a table read for a Muppet movie, you have to have the Muppets on hand. Talking to Nick Stoller, director of Get Him to the Greek and co-writer (with Jason Segel) of the upcoming humbly named The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made, I learned that the Muppets themselves just did a table read.
‘They had the table read Saturday with all of the puppets, and it went quite well,’ he told me. When I asked for clarification – were the actual Muppets there – he confirmed it. ‘They had the puppets do the table read. You have to have The Muppets there! They filmed it for the DVD.’
I wonder if the puppeteers kept the Muppets going in character during script discussions or during breaks. I kind of hope they just include the entire table read on the DVD.
Stoller is, understandably, psyched to be working on the Muppets’ return to the cultural mainstream. ‘Just to be able to play with those characters is incredibly exciting,’ he said. ‘The first time I wrote Kermit as a character in Final Draft I was like, ‘Oh my God.”
This film is going to be true to the original The Muppet Movie, which means it’s going to be very modern feeling. ‘If you watch The Muppet Movie now it’s amazing how much they break the fourth wall and how Simpsons-esque it is, but obviously before The Simpsons. It’s very self-aware and kind of amazing. I call The Muppets the gateway drug for all comedy nerds – it’s what you see that makes you want to do comedy for the rest of your life.’