During this year’s D23 Expo, there was a panel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” which also announced that the full, uncut film will finally be released this December on Disney+. Dalin Rowell of /Film attended the panel where director Brian Henson talked about the earliest conversation he had with Michael Caine about Scrooge, and even then, Caine knew exactly how to play the part:
“[H]e said, ‘I think the only way I can play this is if I — I never will react to anything as if they’re Muppets or if they’re anything out of the usual.’ He said, ‘I’m going to play it like I’m playing opposite the Royal Shakespeare Company … I’m going to play it completely straight and completely committed, and that, I think, will make the right Scrooge.'”
Henson was pleased as punch to hear that Caine had the same vision he had for the character, especially because Henson knew, “There’s also the Michael Caine who would love to look down the camera and give it a little wink, just like The Muppets do.” Caine understood that if he did that there’d be no reason to tell this story or a way to connect to the audience.
Michael Caine gives what I believe to be the best human performance in a Muppets movie and the greatest performance of Ebenezer Scrooge in any film adaptation of the novel. His bitterness towards humankind is palpable and upsetting. His heartbreak and regret come from someplace deep inside him that makes you reflect on your own mistakes. Those things make his newfound elation more earned than ever before. I believe he should’ve received an Oscar nomination for the performance, but we can settle for mesmerizing millions every Christmas for 30 years.