How Michael Jackson and Sting almost starred in Labyrinth instead of David Bowie

29 March 2021, 17:13 | Updated: 30 March 2021, 16:58

Michael Jackson could have appeared in Labyrinth
Michael Jackson could have appeared in Labyrinth. Picture: Tri-Star / Getty

By Tom Eames

It's hard to imagine the movie Labyrinth without David Bowie as the Goblin King, but it could have turned out very different with other popstars in the lead role.

Labyrinth celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2021, and fans everywhere still love watching the Jim Henson fantasy film starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.

The film cast David Bowie as Jareth, and he also provided the film's soundtrack with fantastic songs including 'Underground', 'As the World Falls Down' and 'Within You'.

But if the timing of the film was different, we could have got a very different Labyrinth than the one we know and love today.

In the early development stages of the film, Jim Henson wanted either Michael Jackson or Sting to play Jareth. Prince and Mick Jagger were other potentials.

Read more: A guide to David Bowie's underrated songs from Labyrinth

By this point, Jackson had proved his skills as a majestic film-maker when it came to fantastical specticals, with videos including 'Thriller' and 'Billie Jean'.

Jim Henson was convinced by his son Brian to cast David Bowie in Labyrinth
Jim Henson was convinced by his son Brian to cast David Bowie in Labyrinth. Picture: Getty

However, it was Jim's son Brian Henson who convinced his father that Bowie was the ideal person for the role in question.

“When we first started to write the film we had an evil goblin king,” Jim Henson later said in a making of documentary.

“Quite early on we said, what if he were a rock singer? A contemporary figure… Who? Michael Jackson, Sting, David Bowie – there are only a few people you would think of.”

Read more: Where is Toby from Labyrinth now?

Eventually, Jim reached out to Bowie, meeting him backstage on the American leg of his 1983 Serious Moonlight Tour.

“They brought me the concept,” said Bowie. “[Henson] showed me The Dark Crystal, which I found a fascinating piece of work. And I could see the potentiality of making that kind of movie, with humans, songs, more of a lighter comedy.”

While we adore Bowie's Labyrinth, there's a part of us that would love to see this parallel universe version with Michael Jackson's music and vision!