A Christmas Carol was the first film developed by ImageMovers Digital, which was created by Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke to develop 3D performance capture films exclusively for The Walt Disney Studios. Also one of the producers of the movie, Jack Rapke was instrumental is helping cast the film with a steller group of performers.
He admits Jim Carrey was the only actor Robert Zemeckis considered for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. “There is place that Jim goes to that in a million years you wouldn’t think it was possible. He has an unlimited amount of extraordinary physicality. The way he transforms himself into Scrooge is amazing. He gives his all, pursuing every single permutation of the character.
He comes up with so many alternatives and they are all great. It’s an embarrassment of riches.” Carrey also portrays Scrooge at every age, and the three ghosts that haunt him.
For the roles of both the ghost of Scrooge’s old partner, Marley, and Scrooge’s put upon clerk, Bob Cratchit, Bob Zemekis sought the versatile actor, Gary Oldman. “Gary is one of the most brilliant actors working today,” acknowledges Rapke, “and to have him come and do these characters that require different aspects of personality and experience, it’s amazing to watch.”
Rapke describes actress Robin Wright Penn as “part of our repertory company. There is not a female role that we don’t think of her first. She is so talented, and she’s is part of our creative family. As Belle, she is part of the moment that forms the older Scrooge. She is the object of his love. She represents what could have been and is the source of Scrooge’s greatest sadness. His life would have been totally different. And for Fan, we needed somebody to portray that kind of beautiful innocence, that verve for life with a slightly naïve quality – that’s Robin.”
In 1988 Robert Zemekis produced and directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which cleverly blended live action and animation. It starred Bob Hoskins, who once again collaborates with Zemekis on Disney’s A Christmas Carol. “My main reason to do this film was to work again with Robert Zemeckis,” admits Hopkins. “Bob is the Einstein of cinema. His imagination is always worth seeing. It’s extraordinary. I’ve got a very soft spot for Zemekis – he’s mad as a March hare, but I love him.”
So what was it like working with him again? “He hasn’t changed, I feel like a really old man,” Hopkins laughs. “This guy walks in and he’s exactly the same. What does he take?
What was extraordinary was the fact that on the first film everything had to be dressed, and we shot the film and then they blew up big frames and painted on the characters.
This they shot all the performances and then they painted the background, so it was the complete reverse.
What was extraordinary was the fact that once you’re covered in all these [dots, for motion capturing] you’ve got nothing else to do but concentrate on your performance, they’ve taken all responsibility away from you. It’s extraordinary.”