By Clark Collis
May 24, 2019 at 01:00 PM EDT
Kevin Baker/Netflix

Jim Henson’s 1982 puppet-filled fantasy-adventure film, The Dark Crystal, is one of the most beloved movies from the ’80s, and director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me) has been working almost literally around the clock to ensure that the TV show prequel The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (out on Netflix, Aug. 30) does not disappoint fans. “It is one of the movies, if not the movie, that made me want to become a filmmaker,” Leterrier says of the original, which the late Henson codirected with Frank Oz. “I start my days at 12:30 a.m. and I finish at 10:30 p.m. So, every day, 22-hour days. It takes a toll!”

The 10-episode show takes place in the fictional world of Thra, but it’s set many years before the events of the 1982 movie. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance tracks three members of the well-meaning Gelfling race — imagine elves crossed with Muppets — as they uncover the horrific truth behind the power of the evil Skeksis, the Big Bads of the film, who resemble a terrifying mix of bird and reptile. “We have two female Gelfings, Deet and Brea, and one male, Rian,” says executive producer Lisa Henson, who is also the CEO and President of the Jim Henson Company and the daughter of Jim. “They each come from a different clan of the Gelfings and are all ultimately heroes of the Gelfling resistance.”

The show’s starry voice cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Natalie Dormer, Theo James, Toby Jones, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, Alicia Vikander, Mark Hamill, Jason Isaacs, Keegan-Michael Key, Simon Pegg, Andy Samberg, and Donna Kimball. The three main Gelfling characters, meanwhile, are portrayed by Taron Egerton, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Brea. “She’s a Gelfling princess, and she’s obsessed with learning,” Taylor-Joy says of her character. “She finds the duties of being a princess quite tiresome and wants to go out in the world and explore.”

Leterrier was determined to make the TV show look as similar as possible to the film, which meant battling to use puppetry rather than CG. “I was not fighting against anyone; I was fighting against common sense and practicality,” he says with a laugh. “It’s so, so complicated to build a puppet, hire puppeteers, all that stuff. We chose the long, hardest road, and we’re very thankful [we did]. It looks absolutely stunning.”

Lisa Henson hopes to make more seasons of the show, but Leterrier admits he needs some sleep before deciding whether he wants to pull the strings on another adventure. “I am finishing this show absolutely on my knees,” he says. “It will take a moment for me to recuperate.”

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