[UPDATE: Ricky Gervais has confirmed that he's onboard for Muppets 2.]
The followup to Disney's Oscar-winning The Muppets begins production overseas in London next month, as director James Bobin draws from a script he cooked up with Muppets co-writer Nicholas Stoller; not to mention, Bret McKenzie is back devising new showtunes for the sequel. Hence, there remains just one more piece to the puzzle (as far as pre-production is concerned): the human stars.
Modern Family's Ty Burrell is tackling one of those non-puppet roles, which was previously being eyed by Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). Similarly, Golden Globe-winner Ricky Gervais is now circling the human lead in Muppets 2 (not the official title).
Gervais is the English actor and filmmaker responsible for writing, directing and starring in cult TV comedy series like Extras, Life's Too Short and (most famously) the UK version of The Office, which was the basis for the American iteration; not to mention, it helped launch Martin Freeman's career long before he starred in the BBC's Sherlock TV mini-series and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Of course, Gervais is also known nowadays for his (notorious) Golden Globes hosting stints.
Heat Vision is reporting that Gervais has entered talks for the Muppets sequel, which is expected to feature him in a capacity similar to that of Jason Segel from the first film; that is, Gervais plays second-fiddle to the late Jim Henson's beloved creations, but will nonetheless be integral to the story. As it were, Gervais also filmed a cameo for The Muppets but it didn't make the theatrical cut (on a related note: check out Gervais' visit to Sesame Street).
UPDATE: Gervais has confirmed the casting, via Twitter:
I have just signed up to play the lead in the next Muppet Movie. I have the biggest trailer but Kermit will spend some time in my sink.
Muppets 2 follows Kermit and co. on a new whimsical adventure overseas in Europe, prompting (obvious) comparisons to the second feature-length Muppets film The Great Muppet Caper. For what it's worth, here's what Stoller said about that subject:
“Yeah, I think it’s similar to ['The Great Muppet Caper'] in that [that film] certainly had dramatic connections to the first Muppet movie, but it was a whole new thing, hopefully. This is the same thing. We love ‘The Great Muppet Caper’ and we love ‘Muppets Take Manhattan’ and whatnot. So this has some elements of that, but it’s different because it’s in the tone of what James and I like to do.”
The Muppets 2 should land an official title in the foreseeable future, as the film is slated to reach theaters by late 2013.