The wicked FX twist on ‘A Christmas Carol’ with Guy Pearce as Scrooge

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas ghost story, becomes a shockingly twisted tale that can scare the “humbug” out of you thanks to Guy Pearce starring as a really despicable, yet charismatic Ebenezer Scrooge. That’s the latest adaptation of the 1843 novella by Charles Dickens for the three-episode limited series on the FX network premiering December 19, 2019.

In the wickedly creative hands of the FX network (American Horror Story), A Christmas Carol has turned into an intensely dark adult story. Joining Pearce in the haunting tale are Andy Serkis as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, Joe Alwyn as Bob Cratchit, Vinette Robinson as Mary Cratchit, Jason Flemyng as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and Lenny Rush as Tiny Tim. It is produced by the BBC/FX series Taboo creators Steven Knight and Tom Hardy, plus director Nick Murphy, who succeed at dredging the darkest depths of Dickensian life.

Ghost of Christmas Past (ANDY SERKIS) – (C) FX Networks – Photos: Robert Viglasky

 Scrooge is often portrayed as an old geezer, but Guy Pearce (so brilliant in L.A. Confidential and Memento) gives his Ebenezer a successful young persona that helps make his greedy character more relatable today. At the 2019 Television Critics Association’s press tour, Pearce and producer-writer Knight talked about the timeless tale of redemption and how this version is different.

 Knight said, “I wanted to make Ebenezer Scrooge someone who would be an attractive person if it weren’t for what he is and how he behaves. I didn’t want to make Ebenezer look like his soul, because his soul is pretty wretched. On the outside, he’s okay, but I want the audience to ask themselves, ‘Why is this person like this?’ For three hours we explore how Ebenezer Scrooge became this person.”

Pearce explained he liked the idea of giving his Ebenezer some swagger, very different from Scrooges portrayed in the past. He said, “Scrooge was always this rather typical old miserable, curmudgeonly kind of character. And Steve Knight and Nick Murphy (the director) wanted somebody who had some swagger and is a powerful businessman able to take on the world. He isn’t turning his back on the world because he hates it all. He actually takes on the world in a way that a bully might. So it got me thinking about playing this character in a different way than I might have expected, to give him confidence as a businessman in the ruthless kind of way that he functions.”

 Pearce added, “Yet I recognize that underneath a lot of that is a bit of a front, or it’s a survival technique, or it’s a way to mask any pain that this person may have experienced in his life. I think we’ve all experienced pain in our lives and we all deal with it in different ways. And with this we find a character who, if he weren’t doing bad things to his employees and being as ruthless as he is, you might consider him to be a fairly charismatic and appealing human being.”

 Knight noted that they weren’t trying to modernize the story. Instead the goal was to delve deeper and find different ways to explore the past of this character and show the timeless human issues that still resonate. Exploitation and oppression are still around today. “Nothing changes, that what I hope comes across,” said Knight.

 This dark version is not family friendly due to gritty language and graphic scenes. There are visions of Hell and the hellish conditions that the poor have to endure. Still A Christmas Carol is about one cold Christmas Eve, when Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner Jacob Marley and told he will be visited by three ghosts. Yuletide terror follows.

 Tune in for the twist on the classic A Christmas Carol, premiering Dec. 19, 2019, and re-airings for a thrilling, chilling holiday treat on the FX network.

Photo credit: FX/BBC

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.