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Question: What did you aspire to be when you were young?

Brian Henson: When I was in high school... I was always an artist, I always was doing film, filmmaking things and animation things and sculpture.  I always very much enjoyed arts and it was so central in my family... my mother was also an art teacher, as well as founding the Henson Company with my dad... there was a lot of art going on in our household.

But curriculum-wise, I was drawn to the sciences and specifically to physics, and I really enjoyed it and I think for a little while there, I was really thinking my schooling would be in physics, that that was something I loved, and that, probably though, by the time I was 17, I already knew that I was probably going to go into film.  At that point, I thought probably special effects, something like that, and indeed, the early days when I was working with my dad, after I left school, I only went to less than one year of college, and then I was transferring, and then I delayed my transfer, and I did a movie, and then another movie, and then I never finished college.

But initially when I was working with my dad, it was in special effects puppets with radio control and motors and puppet effects.  The first big thing that I did with my dad was the bicycle sequence in “The Great Muppet Caper,” where Kermit and Piggy are riding bicycles in Battersea Park in London and that was a complex marionetting and cranes driving through the park, it was a complicated scene, and I did that with my dad.  And so I was already sort of mixing my science physics enthusiasm with entertainment and directing and puppetry.

But, yeah, probably the time I was 17, certainly by the time I was 19, I knew that show business was where I was going to end up, and I had my sights on being a director.

Recorded on April 8, 2010

More from the Big Idea for Wednesday, May 05 2010


Moving From Physics to Puppets

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