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Oogie Boogie Was The Hardest Nightmare Before Christmas Character To Design

While even Director Henry Selick is part of the debate on whether "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a Halloween or Christmas movie, it's hard to ignore the film's enduring legacy. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" came from the visionary minds of producer and story writer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick — becoming the gold standard for spooky and creepy Christmas fare for all ages. Henry Selick brought his keen eye for animation, as seen in other eerie projects like "Coraline," to the weird, warped world of Tim Burton, but some characters proved more challenging to design than others.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is filled with popular and unique characters for viewers to feast their eyes on. But while scenes of Jack and Sally have become some of the most iconic images to come out of 90s cinema, others stand not only to represent the beloved film but also the tremendous amount of work that went into its creation. Though some side characters like The Mayor, Melting Man, or Werewolf might appear like they have a lot going on in their design, the film's main antagonist, Oogie Boogie, was actually the most complicated character to design in the whole "Nightmare" universe.

Oogie Boogie had to be re-sculpted due to his initial shapelessness

In a 2013 interview for the 20th anniversary of the holiday classic, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," director Henry Selick noted that Oogie Boogie was the most difficult character to create. After stating that there were three steps to bringing a character to life: drawing, sculpting, and building, he said of Oogie Boogie, "Oogie Boogie was the toughest because he's big and pretty shapeless. Ultimately, Rick Heinrichs had to re-sculpt it, and then, when he gets his skin pulled off and he's filled with bugs, that took some years off a few animators' lives—it's three or four killer shots and took about four months."

Selick went on to say that the film, and Oogie Boogie, almost had a very different ending. Instead of turning into bugs, a prior idea was that the villain would be revealed to be Dr. Finkelstein in disguise — in what Selick called "sort of a 'Scooby-Doo' sort of ending." He said that it wasn't ever shot as an alternate ending, but it was storyboarded initially. Ultimately, it was Tim Burton who opted for the ending as fans know it.

Oogie Boogie was also a challenge to animate once the design was settled on

Henry Selick also spoke with The Hollywood Reporter for the 25th anniversary of "The Nightmare Before Christmas,'" discussing the character of Oogie Boogie and the challenges that came with animating him. He said, "He was a bear of a puppet to move. He was much bigger, much heavier, the metal armature inside had to be really beefy."

He continued, "It was the most taxing, draining character to give him some sense of fluidity, keep him big, have him be fun, and then, of course, when the threads are pulled from his burlap sack of skin and all the bugs are revealed, that was a pretty nightmarish shot. In the end, though, he said, "We were all very happy with the result." 

Despite the work that went into bringing the bug-filled antagonist to life, Oogie Boogie has gone on to become another iconic character from the now-beloved holiday classic. And while the movie has ascended to the likes of holiday mainstay, Selick even recently offered an intriguing pitch for Tim Burton to consider adding more to the spooky universe of "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Fans will just have to wait and see if it leads to anything.