Muppet Guys Talking, a new documentary featuring some of the performers and creators behind our favorite Muppets, premiered at SXSW this weekend. Here are some of the coolest facts we learned.
1.To record Kermit singing "Rainbow Connection" in the swamp for 1979's The Muppet Movie, Jim Henson was put in an underwater canister with a monitor. He was cramped inside it for so long, he had trouble unfolding his limbs after.
2.Henson appears as one of the puppets in the opening to The Muppet Show.
3.Dave Goelz (who's behind Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen, and Zoot) creates his puppets' characters by finding a flaw within himself, amplifying it, and making it lovable.
4.Because Fran Brill, the puppeteer behind Prairie Dawn and Zoe, is 5'4" tall, she had to wear 6-inch platform boots and sneakers to operate the puppets from underneath and be closer to the same height as her co-workers.
5.Grover is based on Fred, the dog of Grover's puppeteer Frank Oz (who is also behind Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Animal). Grover often tilts his head to the side just like Fred did.
6.Oz believes Miss Piggy is a truly three-dimensional character. She mirrors his own insecurities.
7.During an early rehearsal, Piggy was supposed to slap Kermit, but Oz decided she should karate chop him instead and her signature move was born.
8.Oz describes Piggy as "a truck driver underneath."
9.Animal, however, is an entirely two-dimensional character. According to Oz, he can be summed up in five words: drums, sleep, food, sex, and pain.
10.Fozzie's voice changed dramatically from the first time Oz voiced him in 1976 to what it is now. Eric Jacobson has been puppeteering the Muppet since 2002.
11.Pepe the King Prawn is based on Bill Barretta's wife's aunt. When a Muppet Show writer asked him to describe the aunt, Barretta accidentally described her as "shellfish" instead of "selfish," and the character was born.
12.One of the hardest Muppets to operate is Doctor Teeth.
13.Henson was committed to properly executing every aspect of his creations. During one scene with the Southern Colonel, Henson hired a teenage archer to actually fire at an apple on the puppet's head — despite the fact that he and another puppeteer were crouched down operating the puppet's hands when the arrow flew.
To learn more about Muppet Guys Talking, check out the film's website.