Labyrinth: Jim Henson Mulled Sting, Michael Jackson for Goblin King

It's hard to imagine the 1986 Jim Henson classic without musician David Bowie in the iconic role of Jareth, the Goblin King, but apparently, The Muppets creator had other artists in mind during the time of casting and consulted his family on the decision. Speaking to, Jim's children Brian Henson and Cheryl Henson opened up about what could have been and the alternative choices that include the frontman of The Police and the King of Pop.

Labyrinth: Jim Henson Mulled Sting, Michael Jackson for Goblin King
David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986). Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sting or Michael Jackson in Labyrinth?

"I can't speak for my siblings, but I can say for me, I vaguely remember the name Sting coming up," Brian said. "I definitely remember Michael Jackson and David Bowie. I had just been at university for the one year that I went to college, and I can tell you that I was going from nightclub to nightclub, and Michael Jackson and David Bowie were the two biggest names in my generation, for sure. So when he asked me, I was leaning in favor of David Bowie. I just felt like Bowie had a quirkiness and yet a really coolness that would work really well for my dad, whereas Michael had a perfection to his work that would have been tough."

Labyrinth Poster
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Labyrinth follows a 16-year old named Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), who is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother Toby when Jareth grants her wish to be taken away. "I think it would have been tough for Michael to be Michael in Labyrinth," Brian said. "He would have had to compromise his perfection, and then maybe that's no longer Michael, whereas David was always unpredictable. I remember going with my dad to see David in The Elephant Man on stage and saying, 'God, this is such an unusual artist, David Bowie.' All I remember is when he asked me, I said, 'I think David Bowie.'"

Cheryl recalled how Bowie was during filming. "David Bowie was a superstar even when he was on the set," she said. "He did his best to relate to everybody and to be super friendly and make sure that everybody felt comfortable and easy talking to him, but he was still a superstar, and we all knew it. So, it's not like [Jennifer Connelly, who] became famous later. He was super famous then, and we were in awe of him." Fathom Events held special screenings to commemorate the film's 35th anniversary during September.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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