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Monday, March 10, 2014

Ty Burrell Freaks Bystanders by Driving 'Muppets' Car

From USA Today

Actor Ty Burrell likes to joke about his career's "greatest acting challenge" -- squeezing into a tiny Muppet mini in the new movie, Muppets Most Wanted.

He puts it on par with Robert De Niro putting on 60 pounds for his role in Raging Bull.

But Burrell, best known for his role the TV sitcom Modern Family, achieved the seeming impossible, even fitting in the mobile with a large Muppet, Sam the Eagle.

The Muppets are already fresh in viewers minds from their stint in Toyota's Super Bowl commercial. And Burrell says he loved cruising in the mini-mini, once he got inside, which was a fully functional car with its golf cart engine.

"We actually took it into the street," says Burrell, discussing working on the London shoot. "There was always someone walking by who was genuinely freaked out. I loved doing that every time. People thought it was an actual mini."

Getting into the contraption, however, was a bit of a bear even by European small car standards.

When Burrell stepped onto the Muppets soundstage for his first day of work, he saw one of the crew testing it out and it looked painful. But Burrell is a slave to his comedic art.

"Nothing beats a great sight gag," says Burrell. "I laughed so hard when I saw it. I couldn't wait to get inside of it."

Burrell did bang himself pulling his limbs inside and crunching into the car with his Muppet co-star Sam the Eagle, who plays a CIA agent.

"I still have the bruises," says Burrell. "I wear them like a badge of honor. I practiced so many times getting in and out of that thing smoothly."

Actually the whole Muppets Most Wanted (opening March 21) experience was a surreal trip. It took a few days for Burrell to direct his acting to Sam the Eagle and not look at the puppeteer working beneath.

Even the specially built stage was made for the famous foam creations, with the stage built four feet above the ground to allow the puppeteers full freedom to walk about below.
"There is an inherent level of absurdity on these sets every time you go to work," says Burrell.

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