Dark Crystal Age of Resistance Showrunner Interview

Netflix doesn’t only bring back TV shows like Full House, Arrested Development, Designated Survivor and Lucifer. They bring back movies, too. Netflix gave the Jim Henson Company a home for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a new 10 episode prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson-directed movie.

Writers Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews pitched the show and produce it alongside Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Louis Leterrier directs the all-new tale of Gelflings, Skeksis and many more creatures in the world of Thra. The Jim Henson Creature shop brings them to life, utilizing the voices of celebrities like Anya Taylor-Joy, Taron Egerton, Caitriona Balfe, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, Simon Pegg and many more. 

Addiss, Matthews and Grillo-Marxuach spoke with /Film about the development of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, who reveal that they originally set out to make a sequel to a different Henson classic. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance arrives on Friday, August 30 on Netflix. 

How did this begin? Was the Henson company looking for takes on The Dark Crystal or did you bring this to them?

Addiss: We called them and said we have a sequel idea for Labyrinth. This is true. We had sold some things and had just enough name that we could start doing crazy things. We were like, “We’ve got an idea for Labyrinth” and they’re like, “No.” Didn’t even hear it. “We’re not interested, but we are taking pitches on Dark Crystal.” It was luck. It was pure luck and they were like, “Would you be interested in The Dark Crystal?” And I was like, “Absolutely.” I grew up with that thing. I watched that VHS over and over. I watched that making of over and over. I could draw, I could do all this stuff. I made a Mystic puppet in school. I was way into it. So we went in and we pitched our little hearts out. We didn’t know it was a prequel series, so we had a whole pitch for a sequel. Then they said, “We’re very excited to meet with you about our prequel series.” We said, “Okay, can we come back next week?” Came back the following week, pitched. Louis was in that pitch and then a few weeks later we were in at Netflix because they had already knew they wanted to do the live-action after developing the animated. And we had a strong take and we just pitched our little hearts out. That’s how we got the job.

What was your idea for Labyrinth 2 since they’re not doing it?

Addiss: I don’t want to say because it’s so good, I hope it rolls back around until I’m comfortable putting it back out in the news. Every so often, I’ve leaned over to Lisa [Henson] and be like, “You know, we still got that Labyrinth pitch if you ever want to hear it.” But we have an idea for that.

If it’s better than Fede Alvarez’s….

Addiss: I don’t know what Fede’s is so I don’t want to say, because I’ve definitely been hinting at them for a while that I would like to know more and they have not told me anything so I’m just going to hold it in.

Would this have been before Bowie passed away?

Addiss: It was right around the time Bowie passed away. I remember our conversations came out of Bowie passing away and how you would do it now that Bowie passed away. We came up with something that we just loved.

Is this Game of Thrones with puppets?

Grillo-Marxuach: Yes, and to expand on that, we call it that because one of the things that we get constantly with this is look, the Muppets were intended for an adult audience but also for a younger audience. And I think that it’s very easy to look at this show on the face of it and say this is a puppet show. That comes with a sh*t ton of assumptions. We approach this as a drama. We approached this as a high fantasy with a great deal of human emotion to it so the comparison Game of Thrones with puppets is not an inapt one because our narrative goals were very close to what Game of Thrones has accomplished.

So I’m not the first person to say that.

Grilllo-Marxuach: No, I think I was the first person to say that actually because we were saying it in the writers room years ago.

Matthews: It became a good catch phrase to crystalize this idea of complicated narrative, intertwining narrative with real stakes and emotional depth. It was a good way to get everyone on board right from the beginning of this show is going to test the characters, push the characters. The audience will feel. It’s not all one note.

Had Jim Henson left behind any notes about the further world of The Dark Crystal that he didn’t get to explore in the movie?

Grillo-Marxuach: The Jim Henson Company is very invested in archiving everything they do. They have an archivist in house and of course Jim Henson is one of the most venerated creators in the history of pop culture. So everything is documented to the nth degree. There were in house sources that have cataloged all of the development of The Dark Crystal from the original up to the animated versions, all the comic books, all the YA books, all that stuff.

Addiss: The sequel.

Grillo-Marxuach The sequels, we had access to all of that. We also had in the room a very nice man named Joe Lee who wrote the YA novels and had been immersed in this world for a very long time because he’s written a quartet of novels for it. Not to mention, we had Lisa Henson so this is something where we were told that everything that came before it vis a vis The Dark Crystal is canonical. Everything that was labeled or branded The Dark Crystal before was to talk to our show and not to be pushed aside, and that included a lot of the early development work.

Addis: There were notes but there were not notes left behind by Jim Henson about a prequel. He had left notes about a sequel which was folded into The Power of the Dark Crystal which was a script that then became a comic book series. There were no notes from him I believe about prequel series.

How did you invent new characters like Deet and Brea?

Addis: So it’s a combination of factors. Deet or Brea, which we created, it was about the story function that we needed. So we wanted to come into this very complicated world from three perspectives. From the top, a princess, Brea, from the middle ,the company guy Rian and then we wanted to come in from the lowest which was Deet, a Grottan who literally lived under the ground so that she could be sort of the eyes of the audience coming into this big new world. So they were created to serve story functions, and then along the way you fall in love with them. 

Was Hup the podling new to this version?

Addis: Yes, Hup the podling we created for our original pitch, came from us walking around my apartment making sounds. What does he sound like? A lot of the names come from the sounds that they make. Deet is like from the sound meep, which is cute. Meep, squeak, deet and then Hup came from hey, hey, how ya’ doing, how ya’ doing, hup hup hup. Then it just became Hup at a certain point. We knew that we wanted to pair Deet up with somebody who had a lot of heart like Deet had but maybe was a little bit looser with playing by the rules. We thought that was a fun dynamic to bring to it. 

Matthews: Deet is so innocent, we thought it would be fun to pair her with a character who’s a little more jaded, but there’s no one more innocent looking than a podling so we liked that tension of this cute little guy who’s already world-weary and wants to be more of a fighter.

Were Jen and Kira ever on the table?

Addis: Not for this because of the timeline and how far before the events of the film we are. 

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