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Casting a New 'Christmas Carol'

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Dec 14, 2011 | 9:31am EST

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Many of us grew up on film adaptations of Charles' Dickens A Christmas Carol that were somewhat star-studded. Of course, by stars, I mean beloved cartoon and puppet characters. A Muppet Christmas Carol and Mickey's Christmas Carol stick out in my mind, with Kermit in the ever important Bob Crachit role and Scrooge McDuck appropriately taking on Ebenezer Scrooge. respectively. But there are countless versions of the tale that are a little more serious. From the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart to the 1984 version with George C. Scott, to the scratchy old black and white iteration from the 30s to Bill Murray's classic reimagining titled Scrooged, I've seen them all. And being that I'm a bit of a Christmas nut, I look forward to the new versions Hollywood offers up every few years. I was so disappointed with 2009's Jim Carrey scary-animation Disney version, that I've been planning this list for a while. The next Christmas Carol movie should put animation on the back burner and cast these folks in the live-action roles instead.

Ebenezer Scrooge: Michael Fassbender

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He's too young, you may say, but need I remind you that a large chunk of the story involves flashbacks to an earlier time when Scrooge wasn't so selfish and heartless? Fassbender occupies a space where he can easily play a man much older than he is (Scrooge is about 50) and play a man much younger (flashback Scrooge is late 20s to early 30s), which is something that always bothered me about various screen versions of the tale - it's always odd to see different actors playing the same man at age 50 and age 30. Plus, if you saw his performance as Rochester, you've got to admit, he's got the recluse crumudgeon schtick down.

Bob Cratchit: James McAvoy

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Bob has a bit of boylike wonder and charm about him, despite his dire circumstances. He's a young man made older by his hardships, but he's ever optimistic. James McAvoy has a similar boyish charm about him, though he's anything but a youngster. The 32 year old actor could take on the classic role with ease.

Jacob Marley: Bill Hader

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I've always enjoyed it when the Jacob Marley character is played with a little humor. He's the first ghost Scrooge encounters and he's the miser's oldest friend. A capable comedic actor like Bill Hader could lend the eerie warning a veil of goofiness as Marley sends Scrooge on the existential journey of a lifetime.

Tiny Tim: Asa Butterfield

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Sure, he's 14 years old, but the kids who play Tiny Tim often need to be a bit older than the character is meant to be in order to deliver the necessary performance. And kid actors should be used to playing younger characters at this point. Butterfield is a bit of an obvious choice, he's British and he just played a street urchin in Hugo, but you have to admit, it would work.

Fezziwig: John C. Reilly

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Old Fezziwig is one of the merriest characters in A Christmas Carol, hosting the raucous, joyous Christmas Ball where Scrooge used to enjoy himself before he became such a grump. Reilly would be perfect - he often skirts the line between drama and comedy and he's one of the most likeable onscreen presences out there.

Belle: Natalie Portman

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Scrooge was once in love, but lost it forever due to his insatiable greed. Belle was the object of his affection and she was the sweetest, most beautiful girl you could imagine. In the course of the story, we find that Scrooge broke her heart forever. Portman has played this character countless times and it would be an easy fit for her. Besides, you couldn't throw just any pretty, young actress in this role, Belle has always had a certain air of maturity that Portman exudes.

Fred: Rupert Grint

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Scrooge's nephew is his exact opposite. He's joyful, giving and gracious. He loves a good time and gives willingly to the poor, all of which Scrooge chalks up to his inexperience and youth. Who better to bring that out in a young nephew than Ron Weasley?

Ghost of Christmas Present: Armie Hammer

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This ghost is the jolly giant, with floor length robes and long mane of curls with a wreath around his head. He's basically your run of the mill Father Christmas. I say slap a beard and a wig on Armie Hammer, and you'd get one of the jolliest Ghosts of Christmas past ever. This ghost has always had a youthful flair to him, so it really shouldn't matter how old the man in the suit is as long as the spirit is there.

Ghost of Christmas Past: Jessica Chastain

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The Dickens tale calls for this character to be androgynous, but I've always enjoyed the interpretation of the character as a female. There's a certain maternal element to showing Scrooge his past. Of course, this character is always ethereal and shrouded in white (except when Disney had Jiminy Cricket in the role) and Chastain's classic beauty and manner could easily fit that interpretation.

 

Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come: Michael C. Hall

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This character is essentially the Grim Reaper. There's no face to be seen, so it's all about the voice, and who better to warn Scrooge of his doom than the voice that haunts so many of our dreams as Dexter?

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