Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis may have worked with the likes of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks but the actor who really bowled him over making his latest film was none other than Jim Carrey.
“He’s pretty amazing,” said Zemeckis during a recent interview. “He works so incredibly hard and he never stops so you come away with hours of all-wonderful, usable material. The hardest part that a filmmaker has is deciding what not to put in (the film).”
It’s perhaps even more to Carrey’s credit that Zemeckis happened to hire the Canadian funnyman to portray no less than seven characters in the director’s re-telling of Charles Dickens’ holiday masterpiece, A Christmas Carol.
“From day one, the idea was that if Jim was interested in doing this, I think he should play Scrooge not just at different ages but also the ghosts because I figure when you’ve got an actor whose as versatile as that, why not?”
Besides, as the Oscar-winning director of Forrest Gump pointed out, versatility is of the utmost importance when creating as iconic a character as Ebenezer Scrooge.
“It’s the whole game,” explained Zemeckis. “The poetry of screenwriting is character and dialogue and the rest is just writing enough to trigger images in a director’s mind but I think the foundation — the glue if you will — of any movie is found in character.”
However, A Christmas Carol adds a technical twist too. There are no sets and no costumes. Utilizing the same motion-capture wizardry he crafted with 2004’s The Polar Express, Zemeckis instead strapped Carrey with sensors that recorded his slightest motions. From there, the actor’s performance is re-animated in the fantastical world of Dickens’ classic where Scrooge learns the lessons of his own discontent.
“The whole story is wonderful because it represents a very universal story of redemption,” said Zemeckis.