There have been, at this point, approximately 934 film and television adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Alistair Sim, George C. Scott, Albert Finney, Patrick Stewart, Bill Murray and Michael Caine have all Scrooged their way to Christmas perennial status over the year (the latter alongside Kermit the Frog), but perhaps none have expended the dedication and effort of Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell. For, in Spirited, this year’s new take on the classic Crimbo tale from Apple TV+, the pair were forced to sing, dance and wear hot clothes in summer. You’re welcome, world.
“You’re out there in Dickensian outfits, dancing on cobblestones in 100-degree weather in downtown Boston. And you’re not thinking about Christmas,” Ferrell laments, in the new issue of Empire. “You’re thinking, “Am I gonna die? Am I gonna pass away on camera?,” says Reynolds. “And it’ll be so sad too, because Tom Cruise can handcuff himself to a biplane at 10,000 feet while talking to an audience, and I’m just gonna go because I got too hot in my Christmas stuffy.”
Joking aside – temporarily – both actors admit to being genuinely nervous about the project to begin with, thanks both to the ubiquity of other versions and the song-and-dance skills that were going to be required. “I don’t, before this, during, or after, profess to be a competent singer or dancer,” says Reynolds. “I’m used to getting on a film set and kind of being able to figure it out in the moment. That’s not the case with a movie like this. You have to live, eat, breathe and sleep this routine. It was exciting, nerve-racking and terrifying. I was actually so scared that I’d go full circle, back to brave. I don’t think I would ever do it again. But I genuinely loved it.”
And this is, the pair insist, a modern and relevant take on the much-told story, expanding the tale beyond a single Scrooge (or, in Reynolds’ character’s case, a single Clint Briggs) to encompass redemption for society as a whole in the age of social media. “It’s a crisis of faith as to whether this thing that these ghosts have done for centuries is even having an effect anymore,” Ferrell explains. “To tell that kind of story was completely new to me and caught my eye. Also, with our willingness to call out the fact that a lot of versions of Scrooge have been made, that takes the curse off it slightly.” Well, whatever the weather, we look forward to cosying up with what is hopefully a new festive favourite when Spirited drops on Apple TV+ on 18 November.
Read Empire’s full conversation with Spirited stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in the new Review Of The Year issue, on sale 27 October – or pre-order a copy online here.