Today at the Walt Disney Studios Showcase, which took an extended look at all of Walt Disney’s upcoming theatrical projects, both Robert Zemeckis and Jim Carrey came out on stage to discuss their 2009 motion capture adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. While they offered no footage from the November 6th, 2009 release, they did show a lot of the concept art and pre-visualization work from the film, which had a very Dickensian feel to it. The backdrops look Xeroxed straight from the illustrations printed in the original 1843 pressing of A Christmas Carol. Jim Carrey plays seven different characters onscreen, including all of the past and present ghosts. The motion capture will feature Carrey as a young Ebenezer Scrooge as well as an old, droopy, witch version of the character.
Robert Zemeckis appeared on stage first, saying, “We are doing A Christmas Carol the way Charles Dickens originally envisioned it.” When asked what drew him to the project, Zemeckis smiled, simply stating, “The writing was good.” He then continued, saying, “This is one of the greatest stories ever told. As you know, I am a big fan of time travel. And this is one of the greatest time travel tales ever written. A Christmas Carol has never been shown on film the way it was intended. This is the perfect story for this new motion capture technology.”
Zemeckis went on about the special effects, telling the audience, “The great thing about working with this type of motion capture is that you can do anything. There are no physical restrictions. This technique allows the film to be purely virtual. As a filmmaker, you have complete control over everything that happens on screen.”
After setting the film up, Jim Carrey came out on stage to thunderous applause. When asked why he decided to take virtually every single role in this update of an old classic, Jim stated, “Because it is amazing. We get to do everything the original book did. And that makes it exciting, and on the edge.” Carrey was originally involved in another motion capture film that never got completed. About his work on the remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet, which will never see the light of day, Carrey said, “They had my head in a vice. I was supposed to be this fish, and they had me turning my head left and right. It just wasn’t working. This is a lot better. Robert Zemeckis has come in and freed up the process. He has revolutionized Motion capture.”
When asked if he ever got confused playing seven different characters in the same film, Carrey laughed, pointing to his brain, “I’ve already got a lot going on up here. It’s a party. Everyone is invited!” He then joked about getting paid separately for each of the seven different characters, “I will get paid for each of them eventually. I’m a great investment!” This was met with a copious amount of laughter and applause from the audience.
About working with Zemeckis, Carrey jokingly said, “I thought, ‘Wow, he must be so excited! This must be a dream come true for him, working with the great Mr. Carrey!” He then took a pause, “No, I loved being the king in Robert’s virtual kingdom. This is my first Disney film. The first movie I ever saw was a Disney film. It was The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, with Kurt Russell. You guys should remake that with me. He has a hard drive in his head and wifi in his pants! Look, I just made you guys a billion dollars.”
And with that, both Jim Carrey and Robert Zemeckis exited the stage. A Christmas Carol opens November 6th, 2009.