In 1986, Jim Henson introduced fans to the fantasy world of Labyrinth. Henson’s take on The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, much like The Dark Crystal that preceded it, was a darker, more twisted film than his typical Muppet-filled projects.
Starring Jennifer Connelly in her fourth film role, David Bowie, and puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Labyrinth told the story of a teenage girl who must complete an otherworldly maze in order to rescue her younger brother from the clutches of Jareth the Goblin King.
While Bowie himself, who died on Jan. 10, had many memorable on-screen personalities, it would be the Goblin King who would become his most iconic film role thanks to his humor and androgynous, punk-rock style. “He has just the right look for a creature who's the object of both loathing and secret desire,” film critic Bruce Bailey wrote at the time.
“[Bowie] was very warm. He was lovely,” Connelly recently told ETonline, remembering the performer’s presence on set. “He was just a nice, sweet guy -- cracking jokes and friendly with the crew.”
Ultimately Labyrinth was a box office dud, barely making half of its budget, but the film would go on to gain a cult following thanks to Henson’s endearing spirit and Bowie’s iconic rock-n-roll status -- both of whom contributed to the “magical” experience on set.
Only 14 years old at the time, Connelly was amazed by the film’s huge, “beautifully designed” sets filled with Henson’s imaginative, new creatures. “It was like wonderland for me,” she recalled.
“I loved Jim Henson, and David Bowie was so sweet to me,” Connelly, 45, said. “[Making] it was probably more fun than watching the film. It was a really special experience.”
Sadly, both Bowie and Henson died before the film celebrated its 30th anniversary on June 27. The director passed away 26 years ago on May 16, 1990. “I had so much admiration for him,” Connelly said of Henson's “gentle spirit.”
“He was really genius,” she added.