Rizzo the Rat

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Rizzo the Rat
The Muppets character
Rizzo the Rat.jpg
Rizzo in A Tail of Two Piggies episode of The Muppets
First appearance The Muppet Show (episode 418)[1]
Created by Jim Henson
Performed by Steve Whitmire
Information
Species Muppet rat
Gender Male
Nationality American

Rizzo the Rat is a Muppet character, created and performed by Steve Whitmire.[2] He is a fictional rat who appeared on The Muppet Show and numerous films, with a starring role in the 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Character[edit]

Rizzo is a streetwise and sarcastic rat with a New Jersey accent.[3] He is a self-proclaimed acrophobe.[4] His humor can be risque, as in the TV series The Muppets he was given the line, "Is ABC going to be OK with 'Mother Teresa on a stick'?" To avoid potential difficulty with real-life censors, alternative lines were filmed.[5]

Rizzo's family has been mentioned in Muppet media. He has 1,274 brothers and sisters, as told to Gonzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol. In 2016, Disney announced Rizzo came from a family that traditionally cooked pizzas.[6] This addition to his story was in light of a new pizzeria at Disney's Hollywood Studios dedicated to Rizzo, called PizzeRizzo.[7]

History[edit]

Rizzo's name is derived from Dustin Hoffman's Ratso Rizzo character in Midnight Cowboy.[8] Steve Whitmire created the character,[9] based on rats he had previously made out of bottles.[8]

Rizzo first appeared in episode 418 of The Muppet Show, as one of many rats following Christopher Reeve backstage.[8] He can be seen mugging and reacting to practically every line of dialogue. He remained a scene-stealing background figure through the final season, occasionally performing with Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.[8] By the time of The Muppets Christmas Carol, Whitmire had been performing Rizzo for around 12 years.[9]

After that he appeared in The Great Muppet Caper as a bellboy in a fleabag London hotel. He has appeared in most later Muppet projects, including The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets Tonight. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, he developed a double act with Gonzo,[10] with director Brian Henson and the crew envisioning Rizzo as "pain-in-the-neck sidekick."[9] The Gonzo and Rizzo partnership was continued in Muppet Treasure Island and in Muppets from Space. While formerly associated principally with Gonzo, he transitioned to being more often a sidekick to Pepe the King Prawn.

Rizzo appears as a background character in the 2011 film The Muppets, without a spoken dialogue, although he is seen singing along during the finale, as well as the scene in which Kermit the Frog addresses a large crowd of Muppets. In Muppets Most Wanted (2014), he appears to decry his lack of screentime in the previous film, along with Kermit's nephew Robin.

Rizzo returns to prominence in the TV series The Muppets, where he is on a writer crew with Gonzo and Pepe, as he is paired up with them again.[11]

Appearances[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shemin, Craig (2014). Disney's The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9781465417480. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Voice Of Rizzo the Rat". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  3. ^ Swank, Nathan (November 19, 2011). "Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and our Top Ten favorite Muppet characters". Flix 66. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  4. ^ Brian Henson (Director); Jerry Juhl (December 11, 1992). The Muppet Christmas Carol (Motion picture). There are only two things... I hate: heights, and jumping from them 
  5. ^ Jurgensen, John (September 10, 2015). "The Muppets Grow Up and Go Back to Prime Time". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  6. ^ Niles, Robert (October 2016). "Walt Disney World's PizzeRizzo to open on November 18". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ Busdeker, Jon (July 18, 2016). "PizzeRizzo pizzeria to open at Disney's Hollywood Studios". WESH. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d Conradt, Stacy (February 10, 2009). "Surprising stories behind 20 Muppet characters". CNN. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (December 21, 2015). "How we made: The Muppet Christmas Carol". The Guardian. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ Timothy Dale and Joseph Foy, eds., Jim Henson and Philosophy: Imagination and the Magic of Mayhem, Rowman & Littlefield, July 15, 2015, p. 233. ISBN 1442246650
  11. ^ Zhu, Danielle (September 14, 2015). "The Muppets season 1 study guide: Everything to know about the revival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 

External links[edit]