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Labyrinth: David Bowie Wasn't The Only Pop Star Considered For Jareth

It's hard to imagine the role of Jareth the Goblin King in the 1986 fantasy film "Labyrinth" being played by anyone other than David Bowie. The English star almost turns the character into another member of the stable of iconic, larger-than-life characters he portrayed on stage and in music videos throughout his career, but in the context of a feature film. But as it turns out, Bowie was not the only pop star considered for the role during the casting process.

According to a 2021 ComicBook.com interview with director Jim Henson's son Brian Henson, Jim Henson turned to his family for help to decide who would ultimately play Jareth. "I can't speak for my siblings, but I can say for me, I vaguely remember the name Sting coming up," the younger Henson said. "I definitely remember Michael Jackson and David Bowie."

It's pretty clear from these remarks that Jim Henson was set on casting an iconic musician as Jareth rather than someone known primarily for acting. And Brian Henson also seemingly took credit for advising that Bowie be the one selected.

Brian Henson said Michael Jackson's perfectionism might have been a challenge to work with

"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," Brian Henson recalled. And Jim Henson's college-age son might have been the one who convinced the filmmaker that David Bowie was his Jareth. "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 Jackson] had a perfection to his work that would have been tough."

In case you couldn't tell, Brian Henson himself grew up to be a filmmaker, which is probably why he's got such an involved analysis of the nuances in casting David Bowie compared to casting Michael Jackson in his father's film. He continued: "[Jackson] would have had to compromise his perfection, and then maybe that's no longer Michael, whereas David was always unpredictable."

The rest is goblin history, as Bowie helped to create one of the most unforgettable villains in all of '80s cinema. We can't know whether Sting or Michael Jackson (who also campaigned for the role of Jar-Jar Binks in "The Phantom Menace") would have been able to do the same, but it seems clear that at least in Brian Henson's opinion, they wouldn't have been able to match the evil charisma of Bowie's Jareth.