Ron Howard honored late puppeteer Jim Henson by directing his new documentary, Jim Henson Idea Man, offering a colorful look back at the remarkable career of the Muppets creator.

“When [Henson] was getting into television … the rules had not been really determined,” Ron, 70, told The Guardian in an interview published on Wednesday, May 29. “He helped create some of those rules in the way that people in the last 15 years have been using tech to create a new language of cinema really.”

Henson was the man behind some of the most colorful characters on television, including Sesame Street’s Grover, Cookie Monster and Big Bird. His imagination ran wild with out of the box ideas throughout his life. Above all, his work was all about trials and finding the characters and concepts that audiences responded to the most.

“All of that experimentation, much of it didn’t really work commercially at the time,” Ron added. “Much of it [was] never seen. [But] it all informed the stuff that became the huge hits and the iconic characters and scenes that we do all remember.”

“He understood that you needed both worlds,” the Academy Award winner explained. “That the creativity and experimentation was vital to him. That’s where his heart and soul was. But he also knew he needed to apply it somewhere that would not only pay the bills but would get people’s attention.”

Ron Howard Says Puppeteer Jim Henson Had 'Nothing to Hide'
Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images

Henson died in 1990 at age 53 from a bacterial pneumonia, but his legacy lives on in his work and his family, which includes wife Jane Nebel and kids Lisa, Brian, John, Cheryl and Heather.

“You just could see that there was nothing to hide,” Ron said. “He was a really noble guy. He was a really good example of a human being walking the Earth.”

As for how Ron decided to come up with the overall concept for the documentary, he admitted he wasn’t sure which direction to take the film before starting to gather footage.

“I had no idea really,” he told IndieWire during the Pass the Remote FYC series. “What would the feature story be? You know, I just knew he was incredible. I knew my friend George Lucas characterized him as a bona fide creative genius. And so, I had a lot of admiration. But as soon as we started seeing the archives and I was talking to the family, I recognized there were like three levels on which this film could work. We could celebrate the stuff that we knew, we could discover all this stuff that was sort of the foundation of it and more and the ups and downs, sort of in terms of what succeeded and what didn’t and what that meant to him.”

Jim Henson Idea Man will be available to stream on Friday, May 31, on Disney+.