Five Favorite Films with Kevin Clash
Plus, the man behind Elmo talks about working with Jim Henson and bringing his characters to life.
It's hard not to envy Kevin Clash's day job: he gets to build puppets, perform silly voices and create characters for the entertainment of millions of kids around the world. The subject of Constance Marks' acclaimed documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, Clash is a key player in the Jim Henson team, serving as a perforrmer, producer and creative consultant on the Muppets and Sesame Street, where his impossibly popular little red avatar continues to enthrall young audiences. But he's more than just Elmo's engine. As the documentary reveals, Clash's career as a puppeteer goes way back to his childhood, when he was entertaining neighborhood kids as a peer and later scouted to perform on national TV shows while still in his teens. A mentorship with his idol, the late Jim Henson, would follow, with Clash performing characters in Henson productions like Labyrinth and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while developing Sesame Street's Elmo -- a second-string fuzzball who would soon, to everyone's surprise, became a superstar. We spoke with Clash recently as he was en route to New York's Muppet workshop, where he reflected on his experience working with Henson, how he creates his characters, and that time Elmo testified before Congress. But first, we asked him to name his five favorite films...
The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985; 88% Tomatometer)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982; 98% Tomatometer)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011; 93% Tomatometer)
The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991; 96% Tomatometer)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010; 99% Tomatometer)
Next, Clash talks about his experience working with Jim Henson, how he creates characters, and the cultural phenomenon of Elmo.