'Muppets': Bret McKenzie on Oscar nom, 'The Hobbit' set shenanigans

Bret McKenzie.jpg Bret McKenzie is one half of the comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords" and the Music Supervisor for the hit film "The Muppets." He also has a role in the upcoming geek dream "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." We got a chance to sit down with McKenzie and chat about Jason Segel (who he says warmed up by singing Meatloaf tunes), his Oscar-nominated song "Man or Muppet" not being performed at the Academy Awards and making up a "Hobbit" musical with Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving.

We asked McKenzie how he felt about "Man or Muppet" not being performed. "I'm kind of disappointed," he says. "The whole thing is so new to me that I'm kinda like "okay." They're in charge. I'm excited to just be there. But it would have been really fun to get a man and a muppet up on stage. I mean they could even just do it and not put it on the TV show. I don't know what they've got planned because from my experience it's good to have a couple musical numbers in a show. He (Sergio Mendes, the only other Best Song nominee) could have got some parrots up there. I don't know what they're thinking."

Gary_and_gary.jpg

"I grew up on 'The Muppets.' I loved it," he tells us. "In New Zealand there were only 2 TV channels, so of course you watched 'The Muppets.' You sort of watched what was on. It was either watching 'The Muppets' or the news. I grew up on 'The Muppets.' I never dreamed I'd be working on 'The Muppets.' It's a very strange turn of events."

We had to ask about his favorite episodes of "The Muppet Show." McKenzie said, "I really like the early TV shows. I like, Alice Cooper is pretty good. Also, Elton John's 'Crocodile Rock.' They all hold up pretty well. Actually, I love the first episode with a guest. Because as the seasons went on, the first episode the celebrity guest was a dancer from Broadway. And so she's dancing around with these glow in the dark giraffes. And as the show went on the guests got more famous as the show got more famous. But I kinda liked the first season because the guests are really
unknown."

You may not know this, but McKenzie was in both the first and third "Lord of the Rings" films. They were small roles, but he's moved up in the world. In "The Hobbit," he'll be playing the role of Lindir, who is an elf in Rivendell. We asked him the funniest thing that happened to him on set.

"This time because I had a proper part I got to hang out with the other actors," he says. "So I was going to go to town with Ian Mckellen and Hugo Weaving. We were joking about ideas for "The Hobbit" the musical. So we passed a bit of time singing potential hobbit musical songs
while we were waiting for Peter Jackson to call action. Hours would go by where they
 were setting up 3D cameras and stuff... and we were just in hysterics... and by the time Peter Jackson would call action we were all just giggling. We did the scene and Peter Jackson would yell, 'Cut. Elrond is giggling in the scene.' That was a really fun day."

We had to know one of the song titles. "Gandalf's one we were working was "It's A Lovely Day In Rivendale." We didn't get that far. It was very early days. There's nothing funnier than seeing Gandalf singing a song."
Photo/Video credit: Disney/Getty Images