Ron Howard on Directing ‘Jim Henson Idea Man’ — A New Disney+ Documentary About a ‘One-In-A-Generation Talent’

Jim Henson was many things.

He was the beloved creator of The Muppets, an innovator, and according to director Ron Howard, a “one-in-a-generation talent.”

Howard explores the many aspects of Henson and his wondrously creative life in Jim Henson Idea Mana new documentary from Disney Branded Television about the creator that premieres on Disney+ on Friday.

We spoke with the famed director about the project, what made Henson special, and what drew Howard to Idea Man.

What is the story you’re trying to tell with Jim Henson Idea Man?

I have always been a fan of Jim’s work and was very excited about the opportunity. Many people have felt impacted by his work, yet there is still an entire generation with lesser knowledge on his contributions to cinema, television, and pop culture. I hope this story is an honest reflection of Jim’s immense creativity and serves as a catalyst for opportunity for audiences to feel inspired by.

Jim Henson is one of the most iconic creators in pop culture history. As a creator yourself, what drew you to direct this documentary?

I have long admired Jim and found his work ethic to be extremely influential to my own. As I began researching deeper into his creative history, I learned things about Jim that I felt needed to be recognized wholeheartedly. I was drawn to re-telling the story of this one-in-a-generation talent while still relishing in the challenge of compacting the story of this creatively complex individual in 105 minutes.

What is the one thing you learned about Jim Henson that surprised you?

Jim operated on the assumption that creativity has no bounds and it reflected in all his projects. I hope my film creates opportunity for audiences to go back to his work and see just how far he was able to stretch his ideas across various mediums. To my surprise, this restless and burning creative spirit became more apparent than ever as I dug deeper into the creation of this film.

Jim Henson and The Walt Disney Company were connected in many ways. How did working with Disney help you tell Henson’s story?

There has always been a natural synergy between The Walt Disney Company and Jim Henson. Beyond Imagine Entertainment and me, I wanted to ensure Jim’s children and The Henson Company felt confident in their collaborators. In this search, it became increasingly evident that Disney — with their amassed knowledge of Jim and their continued support of his work — was the best fit.

Jim Henson Idea Man is now streaming on Disney+.