The Many Lives of James Hook

hookmain-660x414The teaser trailer for one of next year’s big family releases, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Pan, was released Thanksgiving weekend, proving potential for another wild adventure in Neverland. This prequel origin story of Peter Pan is directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice), and shows a group of young orphan boys kidnapped by pirates, as free labor on Neverland.

According to the trailer, a young pre-pirate James Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and still in possession of both hands, serves as a kind of roguish foil for pirate leader Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). That is pretty much all this movie reveals so far, but it does raise some interest in learning more about Hook’s eventual transformation into his villainous self.

The tentative release date on some movie sites is July 17, but the official Pan movie site just promises that “summer 2015″ is when everyone will learn the new history of Peter Pan, The Lost Boys and, most importantly, Captain James Hook.

It seems everyone who loves the tale of Peter Pan wants to learn more about Captain Hook. What makes this great literary villain tick? Well, aside from the clock in his crocodile tormentor’s belly, that is.

J.M. Barrie gives a little of Hook’s backstory in his novel and play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Through the book, readers learn Hook was once a “boatswain to Blackbeard” and a former Eton College man, who apparently comes from family of high status. Barrie writes in the book that if Hook’s real name were revealed, it would “set the country in a blaze,” leaving over-enthusiastic scholars and historians to bicker over who might have been the inspiration for this fictional pirate captain.


The “bad boy” Hook from Pan (left) and Once Upon A Time. Images ©Warner Bros. 2014 and ABC Studios.

Pan isn’t the first Peter Pan-based story to try to fill in the blanks of Hook’s past. These movies, television series, and books are among those who have also tried to pin down the past of this notorious Neverland antagonist:

Peter and the Starcatchers. This is the first book in the humorous young reader’s adventure series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Like many stories revealing Hook’s origin, the book focuses on the origin of Peter and what is to become his posse of Lost Boys. It also follows the quest of Molly Aster, part of a long line of magical Starcatchers. On their journeys on the high seas, they meet the evil Black “Stache,” known for his abnormally long mustache and ruthless ways. This pirate is known for his filthy presence (both in hygiene and disposition), as well as his sailing expertise. “Stache” is the pirate who is to become known as Captain Hook. He later loses his hand in the familiar skirmish with Peter.

The story doesn’t claim to follow Barrie’s original story, as there are many original characters and plot lines, but the story Barry and Pearson tell is wild, fun, and worthy of a pirate’s tale. The book’s popularity spawned several follow-ups, as well as a Broadway musical dubbed a “grownup’s prequel to Peter Pan.”

The Pirate Fairy. This sixth installment in Walt Disney Studios’ Tinker Bell video series has become a fan favorite, due the casting of Tom Hiddleson as the voice of cabin boy James. The seemingly innocent James befriends runaway dust-keeper fairy Zarina, as she takes over as captain of pirate ship. Zarina is soon betrayed by the crew in their attempt to get their hands on her rare, Blue Pixie Dust. Lead mutineer, of course, is James, who turns out to be the future Captain Hook. As the Pixies pursue the crew, they run into a cuddly little croc, who will one day grow up to be the one who gets a taste of Hook’s hand. Disney takes a few liberties with its own version of Peter Pan, but still produces a charming story which includes a glimpse of Hook’s first meeting with Smee.

Once Upon A Time. Anyone who follows the Disney series for ABC television knows every character in this fairy tale soap opera will get an entirely new story. Killian “Captain Hook” Jones (Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue) debuts in the series’ second season episode, “The Crocodile.” Hook claims, in this series version of Neverland, that he is not the story’s “bad guy.” Instead, he said Peter Pan is the story’s “treacherous” villain and a “bloody demon.” Of course, there are several “who do you trust” moments throughout the next two seasons (including the current one), but what is certain is this Hook’s history is very different from Barrie’s.

Deserted by his father at a young age, Killian grows up to become a ship lieutenant. He eventually follows his brother Liam on an adventure to find a magical healing plant on a remote island, which turns out to be Neverland. They run into island resident Peter Pan, who warns them the plant is, in fact, dangerous. Long story short, they don’t listen. This leads to an ultimately fatal error on Liam’s part, leaving Killian to eventually takeover as Captain, leading a life of piracy and renaming their ship Jolly Roger.

As in keeping with Once Upon a Time’s fondness for love triangles, Hook loses his hand to a Rumpelstiltskin, with whose wife Killian became involved with. When Killian first encountered Rumpelstiltskin, he was disguised as an old beggar Killian referred to as a “crocodile.” Clever.

This Hook may be a bit “sparkly vampire” for those who like Captain Hook as a true, devious villain. However, O’Donoghue seems to be in on this joke and said in an online interview with E! that he based the character on The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.

Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth. One of veteran screenwriter James V. Hart’s familiar stories was Steven Spielberg’s 1992 motion picture Hook, a story that deals with Peter Pan’s future rather than the past of Captain Hook, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. Hart remedies this in his first young reader’s novel about the early life of Captain Hook.


The captain in a circa-1912 illustration. Public Domain.

In this version of the pirate’s past, James Matthew is raised by an aunt after his father, “Lord B,” rejects him. Born out of wedlock, James never met his mother. There are a few hints throughout the book she might be someone of very significant status. Unlike the bumbling captain seen in so many modern portrayals, this version attends Eton College at age 15, is a voracious reader, and a top student at the college. He wins the affection of an Ottoman Sultana, also being wooed by fellow student and rival Arthur Darling. This love affair becomes quite the scandal and threatens the social status of Lord B, who arranged for James Matthew and his friend “Jolly” Roger to depart Eton on a trading ship. His deeds range from noble to villainous, including freeing the ship’s slaves and murdering the quartermaster with a metal hook.

Hart’s retelling is the most loyal to the original novel, as it attempts to expand on the information given in Barrie’s original works. Not only is James Matthew a tribute to Barrie’s own first and middle name, it follows Barrie’s suggestion that Hook gained his name long before he lost his hand. The first chapter, “Hook at Eton,” even gets its name from the title of a speech Barrie made at the college.

Neverland. One of the Syfy Channel’s storybook makeovers stars Rhys Ifans as James Hook, the devious leader of a group of Oliver Twist-style orphan pickpockets in Dickensian London. When they discover a portal to another dimension, they become transported into another timeless world with pirates, mystical beings, and a lost Native American tribe trapped in time. It is worth watching for Ifans’ great acting job, as he weasels and betrays his way up the ranks with a band of pirates in true Hook fashion. Get ready for a little more sci-fi portal-jumping twists than just following the “second star to the right.” Fans of Spielberg’s Hook will also appreciate the late Bob Hoskins’ reprisal of his role as Smee in this one. The Neverland miniseries airrred in 2011, but is still available on DVD.

The appearances, references, and portrayals of hook as a literary villain are numerous, including Christopher Walken’s portrayal in NBC’s Peter Pan Live!. Veteran actors Jason Isaacs, Tim Curry, and Boris Karloff are also among the many who have donned the famous hook. Notable voice portrayals include Corey Burton, who has taken over the iconic Disney Hook, and Ian McShane and Tom Waits, who captured Hook’s speaking and singing voice respectively Shrek The Third and Shrek 2.

Even though Barrie made sure to leave Hook’s complete history an enigma, many still feel Hook is just the repressive symbol of adulthood. Traditionally, in many Peter Pan productions, the same actor who portrays Hook also portrays Mr. Darling. (Although the Peter Pan Live! production double-cast actor Christian Borle as Mr. Darling and Smee, in order to give Walken a more dramatic first appearance.)

When Pan, the latest, but certainly not final, story of the Captain Hook and his archenemy Peter Pan is released in theaters next summer, pirate fans will have even more pieces of information about his possible past. The Hook puzzle will likely never be completely finished, however, and that’s good thing.

Knowing the undisputed truth about this most infamous of fictional storybook pirate captains may never be fully known, but if it were, what fun would that be? The whole point of Neverland is to remain a child at heart.

And, it needs its villain. It needs its Captain Hook. Hook even confirmed this in the movie that bears his name.

“Fools,” he proclaimed. “James Hook is Neverland!”

Easy Ways To Create With Fall Leaves


Autumn leaves make for versatile seasonal art supplies.

Leaves have always been one of the “go-to” nature craft items during the fall months, but they are more versatile than you might think. Here are some different kid-friendly ways to use these colorful—and plentiful—art supplies you may or may not have known about.

foldcut-leaf-660x450As Folding and Cutting Paper. This works best with leaves that are still pliable. I’ve found if you run your fingers along a branch of leaves that haven’t fallen yet, those that fall off easily, without having to be plucked, are at this stage.

You can make fall “rosebuds” with larger leaves (like maple leaves) by folding the top down to meet the stem and rolling them gently. Then, secure the bottom with chenille stem or raffia (straw ribbon). I learned about this craft when I was looking for a bouquet for a “corpse bride” Halloween costume, but they turned out to be great Thanksgiving accents as well.

Smaller leaves can be folded lengthwise and cut to make hearts, stars, simple paper doll animals, or other designs. You can also use a small cookie cutter as a guide.

painted-leaf-660x412As a Canvas. This is one of the most fun uses for younger crafters. Larger leaves that are still fairly flat can be used as canvas for seasonal or rustic images. This is also a great backdrop for little “turkey” hands. Laminate them for safe-keeping or glue them onto construction paper.

As a Stencil. Find leaves of different shapes and sizes that are still relatively flat and arrange them on a piece of stencil-leaf-648x470paper—any color will do. These can be held in place by placing a small piece of tape on the back of each leaf. Drizzle or sponge acrylic or craft paint over the leaves, careful not to let it seep under the leaves. These final images can be folded for fall place settings or note cards. This works with spray paint as well, for more advanced crafters.

As a “Painting” Medium. This is actually more like a mosaic than paint, but it takes advantage of the different colors of fall leaves to create a collage or add color to nature crafts. The more crinkly and dry a leaf is, the easier this is to do. Crumble different colored leaves over paper plates. Less crumbly leaves can be torn or cut like paper. Then “paint” flat river stones with the leaves by gluing the leaves over the top of the surface and securing them with a layer of decoupage glue.

mos-leafIf you can’t find a suitable stone, make a disc out of polymer clay. Use a popcicle stick or clay tool to draw a simple design in the clay before baking. For a little more color, add some petals from fall flowers.

As a Stamp. As opposed to the other fall leaf uses, this one needs fresh green leaves to work best. However, there are plenty of evergreen and house plants that can be used in the fall. Place a leaf on piece of light-colored paper and cover it with a paper towel. Gently pound over the leaf with a hammer until it is completely smashed. Remove the remainder of the leaf, for a natural stamped image on paper.

These techniques can find their way onto note cards, autumn centerpieces, wreaths, gift wrapping, paper weights, or any other creative fall use, so go gather some leaves and gather your ideas.



Bohemian Meets Steampunk Headwear For All Ages



One of the best things about the steampunk genre is the impressive workmanship of their costumes and props. For beginners, some of these over-the-top movie prop-worthy accessories can be quite overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming, as well as hard to manage for younger kids.

For first-time and family steampunk cosplayers, as well as those who just want to add a little blend of Bohemian and steampunk styles to their regular garb, these simple coordinating steampunk hair pieces can give mother/daughter teams a united look, while keeping things age appropriate.

Toddlers and young girl don’t always want to keep heavy things on their head for very long, so a simple hair clip is all they need. Tweens are ready to look a little more adventurous, but still want to remain active. 13-year-olds don’t have to look like 18-year-olds to be cool. This is where the more athletic ponytail bands work well.

Older teens and adults can make a deceptively elaborate steampunk headpiece using a pair of cheap costume goggles. These don’t have to be steampunk-style goggles; flight goggles or costume aviator or police gear from dress-up sets will also work. You can also start from scratch and use GeekMom Marziah’s popular steampunk goggle tutorial to create your own. Who says parents can’t show off a little?hairpiece-materials-300x300

What you need:

  • Alligator or bendy hair clip (for toddler/kid version)
  • Two plain pony tail bands (for tween version)
  • Costume goggles (For teen/adult version)
  • Two or three packages of deco tubing ribbon
  • Craft foam, ribbons, yarn, rope, and twine
  • Steampunk charms, trinkets, keys, watch parts, beads, feather, or other accessories or found items

Step 1: Create the tubing ribbon base. This first step is where the different age versions of the hair pieces will best coordinate with each other, as long as similar color patterns are used. The difference is the way they are attached to the hairpieces. Deco tubing ribbon is often found in seasonal decorating areas of craft stores, and can be lightly colored with spray paint to change the colors, if necessary.

For toddler version: Wrap two or three colors of tubing around your hand three times, as if working on a gift wrap bow. Secure them in the middle with beading wire. Cut the loops at the ends, so it looks like a flower for fireworks. Don’t attach to the barrette yet.

For the tween version: Knot strand of tubing around the pony tail bands by folding them in half, and wrapping the ends around the band, and through the “loop” created by folding the strand. Make the length of each strand as long as you like; 18’ inches (before folding) works well. This is identical to the method used to make ribbon tutus or hairpieces; it’s just that simple.

For the adult version: Cut a piece of elastic long enough to reach the entire length of the goggles, but don’t actually attach them to the goggles yet. Knot long strands of tubing along the elastic, the same way as the tween version. Leave about two inches of elastic on each end.hairpiece-step-1-660x205

Step 2: Add some “Industrial’ ribbon. Steampunk has to have a at least a little of Industrial Revolution to it, and lightweight materials like craft foam and ribbons are good stand-ins for metal or rubber.

For the toddler version: Cut a piece of black, grey, or brown craft foam in circle about two inches in diameter. Fold it in half, and then fold that half again, so it resembles a cone. Clip the tip off to create a small hole in the middle of the circle. Cut the outer edges of the circle to look like flower pedals, the open up the circle. Use a hole punch around the edges to give it that “industrial” look. Thread the wire that holds the tubing ribbon together through the center hole, as you would a flower boutonniere in a doily. Attach the arrangement to the barrette.

For the tween and adults versions: Cut lengths of ribbon or craft foam in long strands and fold the end over the band, randomly between the tubing pieces. Fold over and the band or elastic and lightly tack together with a needle and thread. Use the hole punch to make holes all along the length of the strip.

Once this is done on the adult version, tie the ends of the elastic around the goggles’ band on both sides of the lenses. Using a glue gun, secure the elastic strip to the back of the goggles, to hold it in place. Cover with an additional ribbon or piece of craft foam, to keep it in place.

Add some metallic-colored or earth-tone ribbon and yarn to fill it out, if you want.hairpiece-step-2-660x228

Step 3: Accessorize! This final step is the most fun, and is where the personality of the hairpieces start to really show. Steampunk-looking accessories can be found in the most unlikely places. Dig around through junk drawers for keys and watch pieces, raid the toy chest for old pirate, space, fairy tale, or safari party favors, search tool boxes for washers and nuts, hit the bargain bin at the craft store for beads and steampunk/industrial charms, upcycle some old long-forgotten or broken jewelry, or head outside to the backyard, forest, or beach for small feathers, twigs, shells, or other odds and ends.

Beads can be placed on the ends of the tubing, or accessories can be tied on. Some items can be glued on the barrettes or goggles. Once finished, secrure the knots with a small drop of superglue if you are afraid of losing anything. More items can be added over time.

The rule with this step is, go light on the toddler/kid version (maybe just couple of little dangly items and two or three glued-on charms), add enough to the tween version to make the pieces fun, but not too heavy, and go as crazy as you want for the teen/adult version—within reason. You want to get noticed for an impressive piece, not for falling over from a too-weighted-down head.accessories-660x450

That’s all there is to making eye-catching pieces of any age. These even look great for those not ready to commit to the full-on steampunk costume. Wear them with a t-shirt and jeans, skirt, or leggings and they will still draw attention, especially if you remember to wear them as a family.


Bouncin’ With the Billion Jelly Bloom!


Billion Jelly Bloom takes over the dance floor during the Chalk The Block Street Festival in El Paso, Texas. Image by Rick Tate

(Original article in

FamilyOne Halloween night in San Francisco in the mid 1990s, Rob Lord was impressed with the simple innovation of one woman’s costume—a jellyfish made from a clear plastic umbrella with bubble wrap strips for tentacles.

A few years later, he crafted six similar jellyfish, adding broomsticks and internal flashlights, allowing him and five friends to carry these jellies throughout Downtown Santa Cruz, California as performance art. Since then, this concept of taking large glowing jellyfish to the streets, beaches, deserts, parade grounds, or stage has blossomed—or “bloomed,” rather—into the Billion Jelly Bloom, a dance theater and large-scale puppet participatory art event the Lords call the “original crowd-surfing, dance partner-sized, Burning Man-ifested, luminous jellyfish bloom.”

Rob and Patricia Lord officially founded the Billion Jelly Bloom in 2010, a name created for a 2010 trip to the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Arizona.

The term “bloom,” refers to the state where jellyfish congregate together in large swarms, sometimes consisting of thousands of jellyfish. These blooms have been attributed to everything from population density among the animals to climate change, but whatever the reason the sight of countless jellies together is impressive to see.

The Billion Jelly Bloom consists of several 600+ lumens bright, performer-articulated jellyfish available to be part of any occasion.

Patricia Lord, who serves as lead jellyfish designer, said the blooms have been a part of events throughout the United States, including one of the most eccentric art and free expression-centered events, Burning Man Festival.

“So far we’ve choreographed participatory civic blooms at Burning Man, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and across The High Line in New York City, and during the holiday shopping frenzy in Union Square in San Francisco,” Lord said. “We’d love to take these blooms to every major city in the world, and I have preliminary route maps for Paris and San Paulo currently on my desktop.”

The Jellyfish blooms have been so popular at events, a successful crowd-funding campaign, the OMG Jellyfish Kickstarter project, was recently created to produce “home versions” of these giant invertebrate sea denizens.

The design of these jellyfish vary slightly from the ones used in the Lords’ own events, as they are created to be more easy-to-handle and portable for private use.


Jellyfish handlers of all ages enjoy these jellies. Image by Rick Tate

“Since we launched our OMG Jellyfish Kickstarter project a year ago we have distributed nearly 500 OMG Jellyfish to 30 states in the Union and six countries beyond,” Lord said.

She said she has been extremely pleased with the creative uses people have found for their own jellyfish. This includes OMG Jellyfish being used in stage productions in Latvia, at museum gala events in Houston, and at morning dance raves in London, New York, and San Francisco.

“In our backer survey folks told us they were planning to use them as a light in their children’s bedroom, at Coachella music festival, and as costumes,” she said. “One backer planned to surprise his retirement community by blooming the neighborhood sidewalk at night.”

Lord admitted she expected no less than “amazing creative” uses for the big performance art jellyfish, but has been especially thrilled to find the joy she has experienced “blooming” is consistent with the experience of other proud new jellyfish owners.

Lord, herself a mother of two, hopes the blooms inspire young and emerging artists to try something new themselves. Her advice to those wondering where to start is to throw themselves into new participatory art projects, such as an existing art project, dance troupe, flashmob, or other opportunities to become part of this interactive, communal blend of visual and performance art.

“Pay attention to those moments that you can’t stop smiling and do more of that. Then find a way to share this experience with others,” Lord said. “If you stumble onto something that is super fun for you and others then start thinking of ways to expand, either by open sourcing the idea, product, or project, or working internally to expand your events, production, et cetera.”

Lord said for her, every new bloom includes a moment of surreality, whether it’s at the playa at Burning Man or heading up an urban side street.

“I think these moments emphasize the beauty of the jellyfish swarm more than the epic fun in a dense festival environment,” she explained. “Our High Line bloom had a magical intersection with another participatory group called Decentralized Dance Party. They had a troupe of (more than) 200 participants all carrying boomboxes and dancing their asses off.”

“We had 25 jellyfish who know a thing or two about shaking their tentacles,” she said. “It was off-the-hook fun for two hours!”

Labyrinth’s Supporting Creatures


It took some hard work on a lot of people’s parts to make Labyrinth the cult classic it is today.

Last month, a report in Variety magazine made a very brief mention of a possible sequel in development for the 1986 Jim Henson fantasy, Labyrinth. This was quickly followed up by an addendum a few days later saying that this was not actually something on the Jim Henson Co.’s primary agenda—at least not for now.

This news, of course, set the movie’s fandom, including myself, on a quick high of anticipation, followed by a sudden pit of disappointment. I was a 16-year-old dreamer of dreams, not ready to grow up, when David Bowie’s Goblin King Jareth first led us down that fantasy-filled maze of beasties with his horrible, oh-so-horrible, 80s hair-band mullet and no-imagination-needed tight pants. Some of the green screen (or blue screen) effects were obvious, the dialogue cheesy at times, and some of the music recording quality was a little off, but I thought Labyrinth—and Jareth—were beautiful creations nonetheless.

The critical response was, at best, mixed and the box office profit was pretty dismal. However, the movie has since become a cult classic, with a multi-generational fan base.

The original trailer for the film boasted the creative triumvirate of director Jim Henson, for which Labyrinth would be his final feature film as director, Executive Producer George Lucas, and star David Bowie, along with a 14-year-old pre-Rocketeer and A Beautiful Mind Jennifer Connelly, and “numerous goblins and creatures.”

Actually, it was those numerous creatures, both on- and off-screen, that helped make the movie visually appealing and fun to watch. Let’s take a look back at some of the individuals who may not have gotten top billing for their work on Labyrinth, but still hold their own geek and fantasy-world cred:

Terry Jones. This Monty Python member wrote much of the script, based on a storyline by Henson and Dennis Lee. Much of Jones’ Python-style can be recognized in the script, particularly in the scene with the very British rock wall harbingers of doom. Jones has worked as an actor, writer, producer, and director in several films, including as voice talent for a number of animated and CGI characters. He also served as host for the history documentary series Ancient Inventions, Barbarians, Medieval Lives and Terry Jones’ Great Mystery Map.

Warwick Davis and Kenny Baker. Both of these Star Wars alums worked as members of the Goblin Corps.

Davis, who portrayed the title roles in the fantasy film Willow and the B-horror Leprechaun series, has a pretty heavy sci-fi fantasy resume. He was Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi (and several other roles in the Star Wars saga) and Professor Flitwick and a goblin banker in the Harry Potter film series. He has also appeared in the BBC’s Doctor Who and Merlin.

Baker, who is best known as the man in the R2-D2 can, will be returning alongside Davis for Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015.

Kevin Clash and Danny John-Jules. These two are the best-known voice talents behind the detachable-limbed Fireys in Labyrinth’s reggae-influenced “Chlly Down” dance and mischief sequence in the film.

Clash, who also did puppetry and back-up work in other areas of the film, has become a household name for many parents, for his little red and furry alter-ego, Elmo. He was also the voice and puppeteer for one of my favorite Muppets, the hipster host of the short-lived Muppets Tonight, Clifford. Clash’s signature voice is a standout in the Fireys’ song; listen for a sassy Elmo voice saying, “Where you goin’ with a head like that?”


Brian Froud and Terry Jones.

John-Jules gained comic con-style fame as part of The Cat in the kitschy-yet-popular BBC sci-fi, Red Dwarf, and is currently in the BBC crime drama series Death in Paradise. He also worked with Henson in an uncredited part of a street dancer in The Great Muppet Caper, and with Frank Oz as a doo-wop singer in the “Total Eclipse of the Sun” sequence in the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors

The Froud Family. Brian Froud and Wendy Midener worked as a husband-and-wife team in many of Henson’s works, including The Dark Crystal and Jim Henson’s Storyteller.

Froud, along with Terry Jones, is also the creator of weirdly funny fantasy art books, including the best-seller Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book.

Midener was a Muppet designer for several episodes of the original Muppet Show and the first Muppet Movie. She also worked as a fabricator for Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The part of Toby in the film was actually Froud’s son, Toby, who has since gone on to be a multi-talented puppeteer, special effects designer, and stop-motion sculptor for films like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and ParaNorman. As a long-time puppeteer, he wrote and directed his first short film this year, Lessons Learned, which he funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Cheryl McFadden. McFadden was a puppeteer with Jim Henson in the 1980s and worked as the choreographer for Labyrinth on scenes like Sarah’s ballroom dream and the Goblin City battle. She is better known in the sci-fi world as Gates McFadden, the portrayer of Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The fact that she worked with Muppets before joining the crew of the Enterprise is something I find exceptionally cool.

Henson’s go-to colleague, Frank Oz, did his bit with the film by serving as puppeteer for the iconic bird-headed Wiseman (voiced by another actor) and heir to the Muppet empire, Brian Henson, not only worked as puppeteer coordinator, but lent his voice to Sarah’s troll-like guide, Hoggle.

What about the dog? Well I’ve never found the real name of the dog who portrayed Sarah’s dog, Merlin, but fans of the movie realize the same dog who plays her real-life pet also plays the non-puppet version of Sir Didymus’s faithful mount, Ambrosius. This is only right, as literary-minded viewers will pick up on the fact that Merlin is known as “Merlin Ambrosius” in The History of Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Others who were nearly involved in the film included Michael Jackson and Sting, who were both considered for the role of Jareth. Several young actresses auditioned for the role of Sarah, as well, including Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Jessica Parker, Laura Dern, Marisa Tomei, and Laura San Giacomo. Two who were highly considered were Jane Krakowski and Ally Sheedy. Changes in either of these roles may have made the movie an entirely different experience.

A little something to think about before heading into that wonderful and weird maze…