Brian Henson Explained Why He Was ‘Terrified’ To Direct ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’

The Muppet Christmas Carol is, by all accounts, a holiday classic. But now, a full three decades since the movie debuted, we’re learning just how difficult a production it was for many in The Jim Henson Company, who were reeling from the death of Jim Henson himself.

That included his son, Brian, who at the time was a 28-year-old working in puppetry who suddenly became the CEO of The Jim Henson Company following the death of its creator, his father. Henson has had a long career in movies and other Muppet-related projects in the decades that followed, but his first task became a big one: directing The Muppet Christmas Carol.

As Entertainment Weekly detailed, Brian Henson was “terrified” to direct what soon became a holiday mainstay. In a wide-ranging interview, Henson admitted that he was overwhelmed by the task and needed support from some other Henson veterans to even take the job in the first place.

“When we were putting together The Muppet Christmas Carol, it was going to be a TV special for ABC, a long-form TV Christmas special, and I was comfortable directing that,” Henson remembers. “Then when Disney said they really wanted me to make it for the big screen and not for ABC, I got very nervous and — I’ll be completely honest — I tried to get other people to direct it. I was uncomfortable and terrified, frankly.”

As Henson explained, it was legendary actor Frank Oz who convinced him the project was something he could tackle.

“Frank Oz put the most pressure on me. He said, ‘Brian, you can do this. I’ll come. I’ll be with you. I’ll be there the whole time that you’re shooting,’ which was fantastic. Then, of course, Jerry [Juhl] wrote a brilliant script. The nice thing was A Christmas Carol lent itself to my work experience and my vision because I’d been doing darker pieces.”

The full interview with Henson really illuminates the process behind the movie and how the Henson company as a whole moved forward following the death of his father. Given the pressure that was on him, it certainly adds a new layer of appreciation for what’s become a timeless classic. Perhaps he’s up for a little Muppets Knives Out crossover next? It could work!

[via Entertainment Weekly]