Today marks what would have been Jim Henson’s 80th birthday. And though he left us all too soon in 1990, his vision and legacy lives on in his children and their dreams. Recently, Brian Henson attended Dragon Con and spoke a bit about his father, the 30th anniversary of “Labyrinth,” and what the Henson Company is working on now.
I wanted to ask him a million questions (and had to resist doing a Fraggle dance, I was so excited), but I focused on “Labyrinth,” which is celebrating 30 years since its release, and a new exhibit celebrating the film just opened at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts. The night before Dragon Con, the Center hosted an exclusive masquerade ball, and Henson presided as judge over the costume contest. Tickets for the event sold out mere moments after going on sale. I know—I tried to purchase some. Of the ball he said:
“It was lovely. The costumes were extraordinary . . . I think they’re going to try to find out how to make it bigger. But they were at capacity for the Center . . . But this was us supporting and sponsoring something that fans have been doing . . . so now we are sponsoring it.” Such good news! Hopefully next time I’ll be able to attend!
Henson then said, “I had an entire life on Labyrinth, I feel like. It was those days when you shot for a long long time . . . To work with one creative team for a year is so much nicer than popping in for ten days here, doing two days over here . . . So for me it was like a whole lifetime. And so going to the masquerade ball was like going back into that life . . . and it was a very important film to me. It was probably my third project out of school. I had a lot of responsibility. And I was working for my father . . . The other two films were not for my father.
It resonates for me in many different ways. It was a really exciting time for me in my relationship with my dad. I grew tremendously.
I went in as a special effectsy kind of guy. And then came out as a much more of a mature performer and coordinator and then went on to directing not long after . . . I wish Jennifer Connelly was here. I wish David [Bowie] was still here. It was a lovely time in my life. And very unique and impossible to ever go back but going to that masquerade ball was pretty close.”
What about the Muppets? Henson continues to consult though the characters are managed by Disney. Though he didn’t discuss it, the Muppets continue to see new life (in the aftermath of their canceled television series that debuted last fall) in current and upcoming attractions at the Disney Parks.
Everyone wants to know about “Farscape.” They are working and working on it, but it’s not currently slated for production.
They are also currently working on the script to adapt Terry Pratchett’s “Wee Free Men.”
And though they’ve had the script, finding the budget to produce “The Happytime Murders,” a film noir detective genre film, has been a challenge. However, it looks like it may be close to being greenlit so they are working on casting. He described it as “kind of ready to go.”
It was truly an honor meeting Brian Henson, and his passion for his work and his respect for his father’s legacy shows.
He quoted his father: “Try to leave the world a little bit better off by having been here,” and then added, “That’s certainly the way we approach most everything. Sometimes leaving the world better off is teaching people to laugh at themselves.”