Michael Caine: The Man Behind Scrooge
The following is an article from The Official Movie Magazine in the winter 1993 issue.
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The cameras are focused on the closed door to Scrooge's counting house. In front of the door stands Bean Bunny, who's come to sing come Christmas carols. The director calls "Action!" and all is silent on the set. The cameras start rolling. Suddenly the door bursts open, and a large man towers in the doorway. He glares down at Bean, and with no warning whatsoever, bonks him on the head with a Christmas wreath.
Ouch! Who could do something that mean to poor little Bean?
Scrooge, of course. And in this case, Michael Caine, who stars are Dicken's tightwad moneylender.
"I'm not making any concessions to the fact that I'm acting with Muppets," the British actos says. "The part wouldn't be as funny if I didn't play it straight and pretend they're human. And sometimes that means I have to act very cruel."
Micheal himself, though, seems anything but cruel. And he's definitely a big fan of the Muppets. "I've always wanted to play with the Muppets. My daughter and I used to watch them on TV when she was young. We'd laugh and have a wonderful time," he remembers. "Now she's 19, and I hope she'll have the same reaction to this movie."
"Just look at them," he continues, gestering to where director Brian Henson gives instructions to Kermit and an assortment of rats posing as bookkeepers. "When you watch them, you don't think of them as being Muppets. You think of them as being as human as you and I are."
Michael claims that in the end, waiting so long to act with the Muppets has worked out well. "All my friends were on 'The Muppet Show,' but that was only a half-hour program. I get to do a whole movie with the Muppets-so really, I win!" he jokes.
Besides working with the Muppets, doing Dickens is another wish the Oscar-winning actor has always harbored. "This is a marvelous role," he says. "It's exciting for an actor to do a character like Scrooge who is very well-written, very well-drawn.
"And you know," he muses. "I grew up in a very poor family. I know what the kind of poverty Dickens describes is like."
Asked if he has a favorite Muppet, he thinks a moment and then answers with a sly smile, "It's an honor and a privilege to finally work with Miss Piggy. She's such a lovely swine."
Clearly, Michael is into the spirit of the production. You could even say he's gone whole hog!