Oooouughh – it’s Hoggle!

Hoggle from The Labyrinth

Hoggle is my favorite character from The Labyrinth. Aside from a phenomenal puppet, Hoggle has some wonderful voice work done by Brian Henson. His moaning, grumbling, and mumbles of joy (ooruughh plastic!) really round out his personality.

Although similar stature to a goblin, he is described multiple times as a dwarf – and he is the only of his kind that we see.

When we first meet Hoggle, he’s whizzing into a small pond. He follows up this feat by gassing his 60th fairy of the day. His first scene is then concluded by a spat with Sarah, one of many grumpy grumbles. The fact that he does not begin as a friend is an interesting point, which I always forget and am surprised by when I rewatch the movie.

Hoggle’s overall story is very different from some of the overly simplistic characterization we often see in Disneyfied children and fantasy movies. He eventually makes a friend in Sarah, but is then compelled by Jareth to betray her. Most kids movies shy away from that kind of conflicting and painful motivation.

Hoggle - "ooh plastic!"

Hoggle has a redemption story arc, which forms a more complex counterpoint to Sarah’s more linear, a-to-z struggle. His progression is something like:

  • Jerk
  • Rescuer
  • Friend
  • Coward
  • Friend
  • Betrayer
  • Redeemed hero
  • Back to friend

What else can we say about Hoggle? We don’t know much about his life before Sarah, other than his affinity for jewelry, killing fairy pests, and public urination. Much like the rest of the Labyrinth characters, he is spurred into action by Sarah and away from her he stagnates.

Hoggle the dwarf

Hoggle was voiced by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) and performed by Shari Weiser, a little person.

Luckily for Shari, that’s not her real face. A detailed animatronic face was used, controlled remotely by the special effects wizards.

Shari was more than a coat rack for the Hoggle costume though, her gestures and body language are a vital part of making Hoggle Hoggle.

Maybe this is why Hoggle is so charming, and so compelling. He is the combination of many different people – body, voice, face – and when they are brought together they make one complex and unique person… dwarf.