Guy Pearce Previews His ‘Swaggery’ Scrooge in FX’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Robert Viglasky/FX

Expect a faithful telling of the story — that goes to its darkest place yet onscreen — in this gritty adaptation of A Christmas Carol from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

Memento‘s Guy Pearce (above) stars in the cautionary Charles Dickens tale as curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge. A powerful 19th-century investor and moneylender, he is forced to confront the brutality of his upbringing, his rise and his legacy when he’s haunted by the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Andy Serkis), Present (Charlotte Riley), and Future (Jason Flemyng).

The actor, 52, previews this new take on a classic.

When you were offered the role, did you think, “Am I old enough to play Scrooge?”

Guy Pearce: How dare you! [Laughs] One of the first things that Nick [Murphy, the director] said to me was, “We don’t want an old Scrooge this time. We want a physical, robust, swaggery kind of Scrooge” — that bah humbug can still exist under the veil of a man who actually takes the world on, as opposed to somebody who shies away from it. You only need one brief moment where you get to see that little crack in the armor and the audience goes, “Oooh, hang on a second. There’s something more here.”

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How was saying the words “bah humbug”?

It was very weird. It was a big, ongoing conversation Nick and I had. There are about three of them, I think. I had this idea about one: I said, “We should make the hum be almost like a meditation: hum-bug.” We didn’t do that in the end, but we were exploring different ways of it being relevant and real — not just, “Ah, there it is.”

Was playing Scrooge more challenging for you physically or emotionally?

It was much more emotional and psychological because the dialogue was just so moving. I would be rehearsing and feeling like I could cry. In reality, Scrooge shouldn’t be crying at this point, but Guy, the actor, is going, “Wow, this is so beautiful and so touching.”

(Robert Viglasky/FX)

A Christmas Carol, Movie Premiere, Thursday, Dec. 19, 7:30/6:30c, FX