Exclusive: Nick Stoller on Stretch Armstrong and The Muppets!

Anyone who has seen director Nick Stoller’s first movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall is likely to be looking forward to the follow-up Get Him to the Greek, which brings Russell Brand’s character from the movie, rocker Aldous Snow, to the foreground. It’s already without question likely to be the funniest movie anyone sees this summer.

Even while directing these two hilarious comedies, Stoller has kept himself busy as a screenwriter, most recently being involved in writing a film version of Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong, his second collaboration with director Rob Letterman after their take on Gulliver’s Travels, which comes out over the holidays later this year.

On paper, a movie based on the Hasbro stretchy toy might not immediately sound like something anyone might possibly want to see, but thankfully, Stoller alleviated our concerns by giving us a better idea what to expect:

“Rob had a great take on ‘Stretch’ and he told me about it, and I said, ‘Please let me write it.’ It’s a superhero origin story taking it totally seriously, kind of in the ‘Iron Man’ toneĀ—for lack of a better descriptor. We’re taking it seriously, but it will have a light tone to it. Hasbro has an idea of it and it’s based on a new version of that character. It’s kind of a blank slate. There wasn’t really much of a backstory to the original Stretch Armstrong so we’re just kind of inventing it from the ground up.”

“With ‘Stretch,’ I don’t think there are a ton of original Stretch Armstrong fans out there,” he continued. “It’s more about creating a universe of superheroes that I’m really excited about. Rob and I have cracked a pretty cool story I think and Rob has a really cool take on what this can be, and it’s going to be a huge budget spectacular thing. I love ‘Iron Man,’ I love ‘The Dark Knight’ and it’s exciting to get to play in this world, because the budgets of these comedies are pretty small, and to get to do something that’s just gigantic and exciting but a totally grounded human story at the center of it that I think people are going to respond to.”

Stoller’s especially confident in the film’s director in terms of making sure it will be a good movie. “The world’s going to see when ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ comes out, Rob is a very talented director. I just saw a rough cut of it without any VFX so it’s just Jack Black’s head or Jason Segel against green screen, and it’s just a really charming, hilarious true fantasy adventure movie.”

Though we won’t be seeing the Stretch Armstrong movie for a couple of years, Stoller is also hard at work on the ambitiously-titled The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time, which will star Stoller’s “Sarah Marshall” collaborator Jason Segel and be directed by James Bobin of HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords.”

Being that most fans of the Muppets (or Stretch Armstrong, for that matter) would have been kids during the ’70s when the Muppets were at the height of the fame, we wondered what sort of audience they’ll be going for with the new movie.

“Muppets is I think for everyone,” Nick told us. “When you watch the original Muppet movie, we’re going for that tone of ‘The Muppet Movie,’ ‘The Great Muppet Caper,’ ‘Muppets Take Manhattan,’ that kind of awesome original tone. It’s like watching the original ‘Simpsons.’ There’s a joke every second, they’re very funny, they appeal to kids and adults, and that’s what we’re going for, we’re going for that kind of tone. I always call The Muppets, the ‘gateway drug for comedy nerds.’ It’s the first comedy we’re introduced to, at least people our age. That’s what we’re going for with that. It will be for the whole family I guess, and for anyone who likes Muppets.”

Lastly, we wondered if Nick had a chance to consult with any of the writers from the original “Muppet Show” episodes or movies while writing the script for their new movie.

“We just had a table read on Saturday and the puppeteers, they’ve been working with those characters forever, so they’re giving notes, and we have a muppet expert who gave notes. We also have ‘The Muppet Bible’ that Jim Henson and Frank Oz wrote, which has all the rules of the muppets. The three of us are kind of Muppet freaks. I love Muppets. I’m a fan, Segel is a fanatic, and James Bobin knows so many Muppets. He knows Muppets that I never heard of and that even Jason hadn’t heard of. He’d say, ‘I think this scene calls for Uncle Deadly’ and we’d be like, ‘Who is Uncle Deadly?’ and he’d go on YouTube and show me this strange vulture creature. That’s kind of amazing.” (In case you didn’t know, Uncle Deadly is this guy.)

Otherwise, Stoller isn’t quite sure what he will direct next although he’s prepared to go back into full-on writer mode after finishing the promotional campaign for “Greek.”

You can look for our full interview with Nick sometime before Get Him to the Greek opens on June 6.

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