Brian Henson Director of The Muppet Christmas Carol
The following article appears in The Official Movie Magazine in the winter 1993 issue. Click here to purchase this movie.
It's just another typically hectic day on the set of The Muppet Christmas Carol for Brian Henson. For the tenth time this afternoon, just as he is on the brink of taking a bite out of his sandwich, a crew member calls out, "Brian! Can you come over here? I think we need to change the angle on this shot!" The tall, lanky director doesn't even sigh. He lays the sandwich back down on the arm of his chair and heads over to where the cameras are focused on Gonzo and Rizzo sprawled in the snow outside of Scrooge's counting house. "You know, there was a time when I thought that I'd never go into this bisiness," he says with a grin when he returns a few minutes later, "although that's certainly hard to believe now!" Growing up in a household with parents who created the Muppets, Brian says playing with puppets for and his brother and sisters was as natural as drinking water. "Puppets were always laying aroung everywhere in our house-we thought all houses had them," he jokes. By the time he was 17, Brian had enough skill as a puppeteer to perform marionettes for his father, Jim, in The Great Muppet Caper. Still, he says, he didn't think the Muppet life was for him. "I wanted to do something totally different. I though I'd go to college and become an engineer or go into the aerospace industry." But after a few months at the University of Coloado, Brian found the pull of puppeteering was stronger than he'd realized. "I decided to take a year off, come back to New York, and rethink things," he explains. "I guess I'm still taking that year off!" During Brian's "year off," he piled up one puppeteering credit after another, including supervising the performers who manipulated the giant, man-eating plant, Audrey II, in Little Shop of Horrors, and being the chief puppeteer on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After Turtles, Brian moved on to direct "Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories," which aired on the Disney channel. His interest in directing, Brian says, was a natural outgrowth of working in the film industry. "I really started directing under my father," he explains. "He would have me direct background performers while he directed the foreground." Today, in addition to directing The Muppet Christmas Carol, he is co-executive producer of the ABC hit series "Dinosaurs" and president of Jim Henson Productions. "It keeps me busy," he admits, sneaking in another bite of his sandwich before the next call from cast or crew can interrupt him. Directing The Muppet Christmas Carol has been one of Brian's biggest challenges so far. And the payoff, he says, is working with the Muppets cast as characters other than themselves. "I'm really enjoying this," he notes with a smile. And what might be next for this busy director? "Oh there are a lot of things in the works," he reports, dusting some artifial snow from the set off his knee and gearing up to head back to the mayhem. "More movies comeing up, more series. I'd like to divide my time between TV and film." One thing seems clear: with Brian commuting between London, Los Angeles, and New York, however he divides his time, he'll probably always have trouble finishing his sandwich!