On this day in 1986, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was released. Though the initial run of the last film ever directed by Henson was considered a flop, home video proved to be the road to making this a cult classic.
1. Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie) was originally going to be a puppet, which creeps me out even more than the age differences in the final product.
2. Once it was decided that Jareth would be played by an actual person, several music legends were considered before Bowie landed the part. They included Michael Jackson, Prince, Sting, and Mick Jagger. Henson’s children were instrumental in helping Bowie win the role, telling their father that he was the best choice.
3. The crystal-topped stick carried by Jareth is fittingly called a swagger and is also a sort of microphone, a deliberate choice of the production.
4. The baby noises in the “Magic Dance” scene were done by Bowie, as he found the actual baby’s gurgles to be unsatisfactory.
5. The opening spoken lines of “Magic Dance” were modeled after an exchange in 1947’s The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. Bowie changed “hoodoo” to “voodoo” and “man” to “babe.”
6. Baby brother Toby was played by Toby Froud, son of conceptual designer Brian Froud. Toby is now a jack of all trades in the movie business, working as a creature sculptor and fabricator, and in design and artwork for films like The Boxtrolls, Paranorman, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
7. Let’s get to our heroine, shall we? Before Jennifer Connelly won the role of Sarah, these actresses were considered: Jane Krakowski, Laura Dern, Lili Taylor, Laura San Giacomo, Ally Sheedy, Mia Sara, Helena Bonham Carter, Marisa Tomei, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yasmine Bleeth, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Maddie Corman.
8. For the scene where Sarah falls through the pit of hands, Connelly was on a harness 40 feet in the air while surrounded by over 100 puppeteer hands in latex gloves. Connelly had nothing to hang onto and was in danger of losing a finger if she touched the back of the shaft near the hinges.
9. While Sarah traverses the titular labyrinth, Jareth’s face is in the background of many scenes watching her.
10. Hoggle was operated by actress Shar Weiser from the inside and four puppeteers outside. Jim Henson’s son Brian controlled the 18 motors that worked Hoggle’s face. He also provided the voice.
11. The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama gained a new resident when a worker unpacked a box and was startled to find Hoggle staring back at him. Hoggle now has a place of honor in the unclaimed baggage museum.
12. Jareth’s handwork with the crystal balls was performed by Michael Moschen. Moschen stood behind Bowie and slid his arms into frame, performing the hand wizardry blind.
13. Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) was a choreographer for the film.
14. Monty Python’s Terry Jones wrote one of the 25 drafts of the script.
15. “Chilly Down” (song by David Bowie) is the scariest sequence of the movie and the Bog of Eternal Stench is the funniest. TRUE FACTS.