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The Muppet Man- The Jim Henson biopic we never got

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    Jan 12th, 2018

    A while back, I was on Instagram, and I saw a post by Isla Fisher. The post shows her on the set of the Australian daily talk show The Project with a bunch of Sesame Street props, followed by the caption:

    “On the set of Tom Ford’s latest movie #margeincharge #kidsbooktour #⭐️”

    Now, this is obviously a reference to the fact that Tom Ford directed Nocturnal Animals, the last film Fisher did prior to her making that post. And this post was obviously meant to be a joke, because… well… have you seen ‘Nocturnal Animals?’ Tom Ford films and Sesame Street are as compatible as oil and water. So naturally, I took this post as a joke.

    Until I found out about The Muppet Man.

    In 2008, Australian screenwriter Christopher Weekes wrote a screenplay titled The Muppet Man, a surprisingly gritty biopic of Jim Henson that quickly gained popularity in Hollywood and even made it to the top of The Black List. How gritty is this screenplay? It features an (obviously fictional) subplot where Jim imagines an alter ego of himself in the form of an aging, disheveled, alcoholic version of Kermit the Frog (and by the way no, Jim Henson was not an alcoholic) that is wasting away because Miss Piggy married another Muppet, which is supposed to be a reflection of Jim’s slowly disintegrating marriage with his wife Jane.

    At one point, Jim Carrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Hugh Jackman all expressed interest in playing Jim Henson in the film, and Michael Gracey (who later went on to direct The Greatest Showman) was attached to direct. However, the once-promising project has been in development hell ever since The Jim Henson Company refused to approve the screenplay due to the amount of factual liberties Weekes took in writing it.

    After finding out about this screenplay, I bought a copy of an authorized biography of Jim Henson (that was published after Weekes wrote his screenplay) and read through it. Some details would have made this screenplay even gritter had they been written in.

    Given the direction the screenplay goes in and the details of Henson’s authorized biography, would this film have made a great Tom Ford movie?

    Oh, yeah.

    I can even imagine Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of Jim Henson and Isla Fisher in the role of Jane Henson (I can imagine Amy Adams as Jane Henson too, but she was already in The Muppets Movie :/).

    I actually attempted to reach out to Mr. Weekes asking for permission to make my own version of the screenplay (with his name attached as a credit, of course), but he never replied. Afterward, I figured that I should try writing my own biopic of a different person in order to get his attention. I mean, this film definitely deserves another chance at production.

    And that, my friends, is how my planned Greer Garson biopic was born. Click here to join the thread discussing casting choices for that film. Once I get the Greer Garson screenplay produced, perhaps The Muppet Man would take back off as well.

    Feel free to discuss The Muppet Man. And I strongly encourage you to bring up suggestions on who would make a good director for that film, as well as a good cast for that film. Would it work as a Tom Ford film with Jake Gyllenhaal and either Isla Fisher or Amy Adams? Or do you have other people in mind?

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    Tyler Jewell
    May 2nd, 2016

    I think Emile Hirsch and Ben Schwartz can played young and old Frank Oz in the movie with Jim Henson biopic. 🙂

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