A modern film adaptation of Fraggle Rock – the property created by the late, great Jim Henson in the early 1980s – is something we have been hearing could happen one day… for a decade now. Today, however, brings an update that suggests this project could become a reality, sooner than later. Namely, the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be working on the film in a significant creative capacity – and on both sides of the camera, at that.
Fraggle Rock (a.k.a. Fraggle Rock with Jim Henson’s Muppets) started out as a live-action/puppet children’s TV show in 1983; it ran for five seasons, before it became a multi-platform property encompassing a spinoff cartoon TV series, kids’ novels, and comic books, among other things. The premise, as with most classic Henson projects, was simple: small creatures known as Fraggles (and even smaller creatures called Doozers) have adventures residing in a series of caves connected to the worlds of the Gorgs (dim-witted giants) and the humans (a.k.a. the “silly creatures”).
The Fraggle Rock feature-length film has been setup at New Regency since 2011, but it’s been some three years since there was (seemingly) any substantial progress to report. That changes today, as Gordon-Levitt is not only going to be starring in the movie (presumably playing one of the “silly creatures”), but producing it too – helping to develop the project, in collaboration with The Henson Company and Lisa Henson (Jim Henson’s daughter).
Variety included the following statement from Gordon-Levitt, with its report:
“The first screen personas I ever loved were Henson creations, first on ‘Sesame Street,’ and then on ‘Fraggle Rock,’. Jim Henson’s characters make you laugh and sing, but they’re also layered, surprising, and wise. From Oscar the Grouch, to Yoda, to the Fraggles. I’ve never stopped loving his work, even as a young frisky man, and on into adulthood. Collaborating with Lisa Henson makes me confident we can do something that Jim would have loved. I’m grateful and excited to be working with New Regency on this project.”
James Ward Bykrit (Rango) and Alex Manugian – who co-wrote the 2013 sci-fi thriller Coherence with Bykrit – were the last names reported to be working on a Fraggle Rock movie script, back in 2012. There’s no mention of the pair in Variety‘s article… but, there’s no mention of any other screenwriters either. However, at this point, it’s a safe bet that a fresh script draft will be put together, to better match up with the creative vision for the film that Gordon-Levitt and Lisa Henson share in common.
Gordon-Levitt might not be the first person who comes to mind when you think of who should appear in a Fraggle Rock movie – but, once you have given it proper thought, he arguably makes perfect sense. The actor/filmmaker possesses a whimsical creative spark that recalls that of Jim Henson (or any of the Hensons, really), as evidenced by his work on his own variety show HitRecord on TV. He also tends to be more ambitious and imaginative with his artistic pursuits, having worked across a wide range of genres alongside filmmakers – be they Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, or Rian Johnson – whose styles vary significantly.
There’s still the concern that Fraggle Rock will end up being stripped of its charm when it jumps to the big screen; something the Weinstein Company once appeared to be on the verge of doing, with a planned “edgy” take a few years ago. Gordon-Levitt seems far more likely to do right by the Fraggles – not to mention, make the movie version a live-action musical with puppets (a la The Muppets), rather than a live-action/CGI hybrid (as rumored over the years).
Indeed, seeing as Gordon-Levitt has been reported in connection to a handful of musical remakes/re-imagininings over the past five years (including new versions of Guys and Dolls and Little Shop of Horrors that currently appear to be dead), it would seem he’s been waiting to dance his cares away – and let the music play – on the big screen for a while now.
We’ll keep you posted on Fraggle Rock‘s development as more information is made available.