– Kirk R. Thatcher
– February 14, 1962
– Los Angeles, California
– TV and film director, producer, writer, production designer, special and visual effects artist, creature and Muppet designer, builder and puppeteer, voice artist… and “Fincher’s comedic sidekick”.
While in High School, he met Joe Johnston, concept artist and effects technician on “Star Wars”, who showed him around Industrial Light & Magic when it was still based in L.A.. He later attended UCLA Film School for two semesters but didn’t like its rigid teaching methodology. So, he decided to leave college and ask Johnston for a job at ILM.
It was 1981 when he started working in the newly created Creature Shop for “Return of the Jedi”, led by Phil Tippett. He was nineteen years old, the youngest worker at ILM… until David Fincher, a few months younger, arrived at the miniature and optical effects department later that year. They both became friends.
Thatcher also designed, built, and puppeteered creatures for “Star Trek II”, “Star Trek III”, “E.T.”, “Poltergeist”, and working for Chris Walas, on “Gremlins”. Later, he did special effects for “House”, visual effects for “Robocop 2”, and Gremlin voices for “Gremlins 2”.
In early 1985, after collaborating in the “Smoking Fetus” commercial for the American Cancer Society and the “Bop ‘Til You Drop” music video for Rick Springfield, he and Fincher left ILM to found, along with Thatcher’s girlfriend at the time, Carol Stewart, the San Francisco based music video production company Z Street Films. Stewart became the producer and Thatcher the production designer for the next music videos directed by Fincher for Rick Springfield, Christopher Cross, and The Motels. Thatcher even did some acting on two of the videos for Springfield.
The next year, he moved to L.A. to work for Leonard Nimoy on “Star Trek IV” as a technical assistant and associate producer. He also portrayed in the film the Punk on the bus blasting on his boombox the song “I Hate You”, which Thatcher himself, a former teenage punk, wrote and recorded for that scene later.
In 1987, Thatcher met Jim Henson and started a fruitful relationship with him and his company that remains until today. He went on to create, design, write, produce and direct for many Muppets TV shows, series, movies, music videos, and commercials as well as other TV series like “Dinosaurs” and “Sid the Science Kid”.
1982. At the Industrial Light & Magic Creature Shop
1986. On the set of “Star Trek IV”, playing “Punk on the bus”
2014. “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” (Justin Stephens/Syfy)