In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote a novella that has stood the test of time like no other. A Christmas Carol has become a staple of the festive holiday, with over 50 adaptations, parodies and pastiches in film and television, each with their own interpretation of the sneering old grump. Here are ten of the best.
10. Scrooge McDuck – Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
When Disney decided to do an adaptation of Dickens’ novel, who else could play the role? He’s named after the character for crying out loud! This anthropomorphic duck that loves to swim in a vault of gold, stands out as the only animated character in this list to take on the role.
9. Kelsey Grammer – A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)
The first musical adaptation on this list was based on a stage version that came out ten years earlier. Starring ‘Frasier’ himself, Kelsey Grammer hams it up for this Scrooge and all the better for it; after all, over the years Scrooge has become a bit of a caricature. On a side note, very good visual effects for a TV movie.
8. Ross Kemp – A Christmas Carol (2000)
For this modern take, Eastenders hard man Ross Kemp was chosen to play the loan shark Eddie Scrooge. Kemp obviously had the fear inducing look and was deliciously evil terrorising his local estate, but made the transformation into a better man a gradual thing, rather than waking up a changed man.
7. Patrick Stewart – A Christmas Carol (1999)
Better known as Captain Jon-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise (or Professor X for all you X-Men fans) Patrick Stewart takes on the role in this darker version. With his theatrical background, he had the perfect booming voice to portray a frightening Scrooge.
6. Albert Finney – Scrooge (1970)
A musical adaptation, it is the only live-action version of the story to be nominated for Oscars. Only 34 at the time, Albert Finney even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy in 1971, playing Scrooge as his younger self as well as the grumpy old miser.
5. George C. Scott – A Christmas Carol (1984)
Considered one of the closest adaptations, one of America’s finest actors took on the role in this UK/US collaboration. With his ability to fill a room with his presence and deep voice, George C. Scott’s Scrooge was incredibly intimidating and earned him an Emmy nomination. Also kudos for the clear, but understated English accent.
4. Jim Carrey – A Christmas Carol (2009)
Despite using Robert Zemeckis’ much-favoured motion capture, something tells me from his previous track record Jim Carrey could have played this without any technical assistance. The voice he puts on is one of my personal favourites finding an interesting balance between devilish and witch-like.
3. Bill Murray – Scrooged (1988)
The man with humour so dry you could use it to mop up spilt milk, Bill Murray is perfection in this modern-day take on the tale. He hits all the right notes playing a despicable, heartless snake, but it’s in the final act when he realises the error of his ways where Murray actually creates real emotion and the redemption is believable.
2. Michael Caine – The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
If you weren’t expecting this one on the list, where have you been for the past 22 years? For the Muppets’ unusually faithful adaptation, they chose one of Britain’s finest actors to portray the miserable old Christmas hater. Michael Caine even sings in it! Pretty well, too. Who’d have thought it?
1. Alastair Sim – Scrooge (1951) & A Christmas Carol (1971)
The earliest one everybody remembers, Alastair Sim created the Scrooge mould that we’ve seen in most performances since. He was so good in fact, that he played the character a second time, providing the voice for an animated version 20 years later.