Jemaine Clement seems to be enjoying an animated start to 2014 as his combative cockatiel character Nigel returns to the big screen, causing trouble in Rio 2.

"This is the closest I've ever gotten to Shakespeare," declares Jemaine Clement about the return of his dastardly cockatiel, Nigel in the upcoming animated feature, Rio 2.

Clement says he has little in common with his combative alter ego who has a continuing rivalry with macaws Tyler Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) which began in the original 2011 hit which grossed US$484 million worldwide.

"I'm so not vengeful like Nigel is, but maybe secretly I want to be like him a little."

As for the process of voicing an animated character, he says, "I try different versions of each of the lines and reword it in my head. Then I let someone else choose which version will go in. By the time I watch the movie I can't remember what I did in the booth."


Evidently, Clement has his plate full with family fare - he has a cameo in Muppets Most Wanted as another bad guy in Russian prison scenes with Tina Fey.

That film, of course, like 2011's Muppet movie reprise features the music of his Flight of the Conchords partner Bret McKenzie and is directed by James Bobin, who helped write, direct and produce the pair's two seasons on HBO. When McKenzie won his 2012 Oscar for best song for Man or Muppet, his only competition was a song from the first Rio movie.

The pair's parallel film careers and family commitments in Wellington have meant the Conchords and live touring isn't as big a priority as it once was. Clement's also been working with Taika Waiti on their vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows as it hits the international film festival circuit.

The dastardly Nigel returns in Rio 2.

"Touring is always the most fun thing we do.

"It's better than filming or recording, and it's also shorter. You perform for two or three hours a day and get to travel and see places. Our last tour was five months ago around the States with Dave Chappelle and a bunch of other comedians. It was good that it wasn't just the two of us and we were with other friends as well."

And he's not as quite as confident on stage by himself, it seems.

"I was supposed to perform at the Rio 2 after-party the other night but I chickened out."

And as for a third outing as Nigel, well the character does have an unrequited love story involving Gabi, a poison dart frog voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.

"I think eventually, Gabi would wear him down, whether by attrition or attraction. Maybe if there's a Rio 3 they'll get together."

Who: Jemaine Clement
What: Rio 2
When: Opens April 17

- TimeOut