One of the most memorable scenes in the 1986 movie Labyrinth is when David Bowie, as Jareth the Goblin King, sings to a kidnapped human baby named Toby while surrounded by puppet monsters. And, while the plot of the movie is fantastical and involves a girl (Jennifer Connelly) trying to rescue her baby brother from being turned into a goblin, that part was—in a sense—a little real. Bowie really was singing to a baby named Toby. The Labyrinth baby was played by Toby Froud, and 35 years later, his adult career isn’t very far removed from his first role. Read on to find out more about Froud’s life now and how he was cast in the cult classic.
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Froud’s parents both worked on Labyrinth.
Froud ended up in the movie because his father, Brian Froud, was its conceptual designer and co-costume designer. Brian had previously worked with director Jim Henson on his 1982 movie The Dark Crystal. Brian is also known for the 1978 book, Faeries.
Mother Wendy Froud also worked on Labyrinth as one of the artists who made the puppets populating the world. Additionally, she’s responsible for helping to create one of the most famous movie characters of all time: Yoda from Star Wars. She was one of the puppeteers for the character, as well, according to an interview with Zoomin Local Heroes.
Wendy and Brian met while working at Henson Studios.
Froud followed in his parents’ footsteps as soon as he was old enough.
Now 37 years old, the younger Froud is a puppeteer, artist, and filmmaker. Films he has worked on as a designer and sculptor include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, and Kubo and the Two Strings.
And, after starring in one Henson production as a baby, he’s come to be on the behind-the-scenes creative team of another as an adult. Froud was design supervisor for the 2019 Netflix series, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, which his parents also worked on. Plus, he wrote and directed the short film Lessons Learned, which was produced by Jim Henson’s daughter, Heather Henson.
He has a son who’s older than he was in the film.
Froud has a son named Sebastian with his ex-wife. In a 2013 interview with Geek Dad, soon after he welcomed Sebastian, Froud said, “Parenthood certainly gives you a different perspective on the world, imagining what your little guy is experiencing … I’m looking forward to the day I can share the Labyrinth with my boy. Although, I imagine he probably won’t believe me that I was that baby in the stripes.”
In a 2014 interview with The Original van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, he also said of having a child, “I realized that I was now responsible to not just introduce my son to the world but also to the magic I grew up with.”
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He loves that he was part of Labyrinth.
In the Original van Gogh’s Ear Anthology interview, Froud said that he doesn’t mind people asking about him being in Labyrinth because “it was a great honor to be a part (even a little part) of such a phenomenal production.” He added, “My family jokes that Labyrinth is like a home movie because it does capture me as a baby, so when people see me grown up they feel connected as if they had sat down in our living room and watched a home movie with my parents.”
He had an accident with Bowie.
Working with a baby comes with certain risks, which is something Bowie learned firsthand. Speaking with HuffPost in 2016, Froud shared that he had to wear special thin diapers with his costume, which led to a few accidents while Bowie was holding him.
“The first time I actually met David Bowie and sat on his lap, I peed all over him,” Froud said. “He was a gentleman about it. He really was. At the time, he was an absolute rockstar and everything, but he was very genuinely nice about the whole situation, and we carried on afterward. We did the scenes together. But yes, I met the man and peed on him pretty quickly, maybe a couple times through the shoot. It was all to do with the diapers.”
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