|DESIGN||Eric Engelhardt original builder|
Pepe the King Prawn, whose full name is Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales, started life in Madrid, Spain. He worked as a chef, before moving to Hollywood and following his true calling in show business. In a TVGuide.com chat in 1999, he remarked, "There were one too many close calls in the kitchen. I was mistaken for an appetizer, okay."
The four-armed Pepe is very proud of being a king prawn and takes great offense if anyone refers to him as a shrimp ("I am not a shrimp! I am a king prawn, okay?"). He speaks with a heavy Spanish accent, often punctuating his sentences with "...okay?" Due to his sometimes impenetrable accent, Pepe calls the Muppets "Muffins" or "Muppens", and he regularly calls Kermit "Kermin", Fozzie Bear "Fotzie", Animal "Animals", Rizzo "Ritzo," and Scooter "Scooper." He doesn't even pronounce Walter correctly, and instead calls him "Howard." He also calls Sam the Eagle "Stan" as shown at the 2009 D23 Expo. He refers to marketing guru Pizza (pronounced Pache) as "Poncho". Miss Piggy is among the few characters whose name Pepe pronounces correctly.
Pepe is in love with Hollywood and expects he will earn several Oscar nominations (for good looks, acting and choreography. And foley.). His influences include Dick van Dyke, Marlon Brando, Ruth Buzzi, Topo Gigio, and Mighty Mouse. He has also referred to Ricky Martin on at least two separate occasions. In his TVGuide.com chat, he challenged the pop star to a sing-off, and in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, he was invited to shake his "bon bons" at Ricky Martin's South Beach Christmas party.
Pepe is the author of the book It's Hard Out Here for a Shrimp.
During the initial development for Muppets Tonight, the Muppet performers worked with the creative staff to create new characters for the show. Puppeteer Bill Barretta was discussing with Kirk Thatcher a character based on his wife's aunt, mistakenly calling her "a little shellfish" instead of "selfish." From there, they began developing the character as a crustacean. Barretta took further inspiration from his aunt, known in the family as "Maria Teresa Okay," by applying her accent and habit of ending all her sentences with "okay."
Twelve prototype puppets for Pepe were built before his finalized design was made. The final design was partly inspired by a kitchen worker that builder Eric Engelhardt knew, particularly having a single tooth on his bottom jaw.
Pepe's first appearance was on Muppets Tonight in 1996, as a companion to Seymour the Elephant. The pair worked at the KMUP studios, as elevator operators in the first season and as commissary chefs in the second season, but they always aspired to onscreen singing stardom. These dreams never came true, however, because their performances were dire. They would always sing the same song, with slightly altered lyrics:
'We're two of a kind.
'I'm a little bit forward,
'And I've got a big behind.
The pair only appeared on stage twice -- in the Pierce Brosnan episode, when they were taken hostage by an army of lobsters in a bid to take over the studio, and in the Sandra Bullock episode, when Clifford and Rizzo were desperate for an act to keep the show's ratings above 50.
When Muppets Tonight went off the air, Pepe ditched his partner; Seymour has never appeared again.
Pepe goes solo
In 2002, he became the official spokesprawn for Long John Silver's, starring in several commercials and appearing on their website. These commercials brought Pepe nationwide attention, and Long John Silver's was deluged with e-mails asking for Pepe merchandise, especially plush dolls.
Pepe served as a correspondent in the early installments of the web series Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony, where - among other things - he interviewed Jodie Foster and other actors on the red carpet of Flightplan. He was performed by Drew Massey for the "test pilot" of the show.
Pepe's popularity and irreverence, along with Bill Barretta's improvisational skills, have resulted in Pepe's becoming a frequent host of DVD extra features. Pepe hosts much of the behind-the-scenes material on the DVDs for It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (Inside Pepe's Studio), The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (Pepe's Exclusive Making Of and an interview with Quentin Tarantino), and Studio DC: Almost Live! (Pepe's Travels); while "Pepe's Profiles" of various Muppet characters were featured on the 'Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition' releases of The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.
Pepe has a larger presence in 2014's Muppets Most Wanted, appearing in a cameo with Sean Combs (Puff Daddy), and as a backup singer during the song "Something So Right." He also had a solo in the El Muppet Show version of "The Muppet Show Theme"; though the solo was deleted from the film, it still appears on the soundtrack. He was also featured on Scooter's performance of "Moves Like Jagger."
Barretta reflected on the change in Pepe's character after Muppets Tonight, saying:
“Pepe was written at first — he was supposed to be this guy who just wanted to be in show business but had a language barrier. But then over time, I don’t know how it happened, he just became this kind of ladies’ prawn, you know? He was very much into the women. And then women seemed to respond to him for whatever reason.”
Pepe has always had an attraction to the ladies and developed into a smooth-talking crustacean Casanova—flirting with such women as Rachel Bitterman, Ashanti, Jodie Foster, Bonnie Hunt, Joy, Whoopi Goldberg, and Lady Gaga. His efforts are sometimes less than successful, as exemplified by Rachel Bitterman's treatment of him in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
In a 2008 interview, Pepe announced that he is a father; sharing that he and his long-time girlfriend, Christine, have a 2-year-old baby. In a later television appearance on CBS's The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Pepe revealed that he and Christina have since become engaged, and stated that he has a total of about 1,300 children all over the world. When asked what he looks for in a fiancé, Pepe responded: "breasts."
In a 2013 appearance on ABC's The View, Pepe proposed to Whoopi Goldberg (with Goldberg claiming the two have been a couple for "twenty some odd years"); Pepe appeared in a tux and presented Goldberg with an engagement ring (saying "if you like it, you better put a ring on it") to which Whoopi enthusiastically said "yes!"
His interest isn't solely in humans; has dated at least one catfish.
Pepe has an affinity to cross-dressing—often wearing a pink tutu. Pepe was first caught wearing his tutu in Muppets from Space; Pepe is caught off-guard when Muppet Lab's invisibility spray wears off and he becomes visible while wearing the tutu and dancing ballet. He wore the tutu again in a 2008 Muppets.com video performing "Prawn Lake" and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon singing the "nine ladies dancing" line of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
Additionally, Pepe wore a sequined dress as Seymour's assistant in episode 202 of Muppets Tonight, donned a "see-through nighty" in a V-Chip commercial, and put on a blonde wig to impersonate Miss Piggy in episode 109 of Muppets Tonight.
- Muppets Tonight
- Episode 102: Garth Brooks
- Episode 105: Cindy Crawford
- Episode 106: Tony Bennett
- Episode 107: Sandra Bullock
- Episode 108: Jason Alexander
- Episode 109: Whoopi Goldberg
- Episode 110: Martin Short
- Episode 201: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
- Episode 202: Rick Moranis
- Episode 204: Pierce Brosnan
- Episode 205: Coolio & Don Rickles
- Episode 207: Dennis Quaid
- Episode 208: The Cameo Show
- Episode 210: The Gary Cahuenga Episode
- Muppets from Space
- V-chip commercials
- Movie Mania
- Muppet RaceMania
- Family Feud
- Telling Stories with Tomie dePaola Episode 108: Character
- The Muppet Show Live
- Long John Silver's commercials
- Keep Fishin' music video
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
- Muppets Party Cruise
- Spy Muppets: License to Croak
- The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour
- NBC's Funniest Outtakes 2
- America's Funniest Home Videos
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
- The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
- From the Balcony
- Test pilot
- Episode 1
- Episode 3: Bonus Clip
- Episode 5
- Episode 6
- Episode 8
- Pepe's Profiles
- The Muppets on Muppets
- The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon
- Disney Extreme Digital
- Studio DC Hosted by Dylan and Cole Sprouse
- Studio DC Hosted by Selena Gomez
- PIX 11 Morning News
- Good Morning America
- The Bonnie Hunt Show
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
- D23 Expo (2009)
- Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. commercials
- Muppet viral videos
- Andrea Bocelli & David Foster: My Christmas
- Christmas in Rockefeller Center
- The Jay Leno Show
- Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
- America's Funniest Home Videos
- The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora
- "The Muppet Show Theme music video"
- AMC Theatres
- The Muppets
- Dancing with the Stars
- Kermit's Party
- Ask Pepe
- The Case of the Stolen Show
- Just for Laughs
- The View
- Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular
- Muppets Most Wanted
- Disney Drive-On with The Muppets
- Muppet Moments
- The Muppets 2015 Presentation Pilot
- Fozzie's Bear-ly Funny Fridays #17
- The Muppets
- The Muppets Take the Bowl
- The Muppets Take the O2
- Carpool Karaoke: The Series
- Drop the Mic
- Facebook Portal commercials
- The Disney Family Singalong: Volume II
- The Late Late Show with James Corden
- Muppets Now
- Great Muppets in American History (coloring book)
- It's Hard Out Here For A Shrimp (author)
- The Muppet Show Comic Book issue #2 - "Fozzie's Story"
- Muppet Robin Hood issue #3
- Muppet Robin Hood issue #4
- Muppet Peter Pan
- Muppet King Arthur
- Muppet Snow White
- Muppet Sherlock Holmes
- The Four Seasons issue #2 - "Summer"
- The Muppets Character Encyclopedia
- Muppets Meet the Classics: The Phantom of the Opera
- Muppets Meet the Classics: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm
- Pepe Action Figure
- Vacation Pepe Action Figure
- Nanco Plush
- "The Muppets Take Hollywood" PVC
- It's Hard Out Here For A Shrimp
- Vinylmation figure
- Disney Store plush
- Muppet Minimates Series 3
- online chat with TVGuide.com, July 1999
- One on One with Bill Barretta: Origin of Pepe the King Prawn | Disney Files On Demand
- MuppetFest panel
- Barretta, Bill. Creating the Classic Muppets Panel at MuppetFest. MuppetFest Memories.
- Den of Geek: 29 nerdy things we learned on the set of Muppets Most Wanted
- The George Lucas Talk Show - Muppets Tonight reunion, part 2 (02:12:37)
- Liebeck, Laura. "Pepe the King Prawn speaks out", Global License! magazine. January 1, 2002.
- "Miss Piggy's 'a mess inside': Frank Oz and puppeteer pals reveal Muppet secrets", Yahoo.com, March 14, 2018.
- Pepe Interview with Author Magazine, October 2008
- @SpicyPrawn, "I don't get what the big deal is about people dating catfish. I dated a catfish once and she was very nice, okay. Is it the whiskers?", Twitter, 11 Aug 2016.