How Michael Caine made The Muppet Christmas Carol a perfect festive movie

4 December 2023, 18:16

Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol
Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. Picture: Alamy/Disney

By Tom Eames

Sir Michael Caine’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol remains a beloved interpretation of the classic Dickens character, blending the gravitas of a seasoned actor with the whimsical world of the Muppets.

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The 1992 film, directed by Brian Henson, is cherished for its heartwarming storytelling and unique blend of live-action and puppetry.

Michael Caine approached the role with the utmost seriousness, vowing to perform as if he were on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He promised never to wink or act ‘Muppety,’ instead delivering a performance that was both authentic and dramatically compelling.

The decision to join the Muppet cast was a personal one for Caine. He wanted to make a film that his seven-year-old daughter could watch, as he had never made a movie suitable for her age.

Michael Caine
Michael Caine. Picture: Alamy

"To start, my daughter, who is the mother of my grandchildren, was then seven, and she had never seen me in a movie," he told GQ. "I had never made a movie that a 7-year-old can see.

"And so a man mentioned the Muppets and I said, “That’s it! I’ll do that!” And it’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a fabulous tale! You’ll be old Scrooge, it’ll be marvellous! And it was absolutely perfect at that time for what I wanted. I could make it, and my daughter could see it. That’s why I did it. And it was lovely."

The Muppet Christmas Carol Making Of

The Muppet Christmas Carol provided that opportunity, allowing him to share the screen with iconic characters like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

Caine’s singing in the film was a delightful surprise to many, including himself. He admitted to not knowing he could sing as well as he did, and his duets with Kermit are fondly remembered by fans.

"Well I didn’t know I could sing as well as it turned out! I mean it wasn’t bad, I wasn’t ashamed of it. I thought I was going to make a fool of myself but it didn’t matter, because it’s Muppets, you know. Scrooge sings badly, and it’s fine! It’s funny! But I thought we sang quite well as a duet, Kermit and me."

The film also marked a full-circle moment for Caine, as he worked under the direction of Frank Oz (Miss Piggy) in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and the Muppets now own the Charlie Chaplin studio, linking Caine’s South London roots to his Muppet collaboration.

The Muppet Christmas Carol continues to be a festive staple, enchanting new generations and standing as a testament to Michael Caine’s versatility and the timeless appeal of the Muppets.

Caine’s performance is a highlight of his illustrious career, showcasing his ability to captivate audiences of all ages.