Interview with Stephen Graham (Jacob Marley) on A Christmas Carol
"He’s a bit like Clarence Odbody in It’s A Wonderful Life, I’ve gone for a darker, more twisted version of him" - Stephen Graham
On air 22nd December 9pm, BBC One
Tell us about this version of A Christmas Carol…
It’s authentic to the book. For me, personally, I found the scripts such a great read, how Steven had put it all together. That world that’s been captured within this is fantastic. It says a lot about greed, self-obsession and the desire to have everything instantly, which is very relevant for today’s society. It says to treat people with kindness and respect because on the day of judgement when you look in the mirror, how have you treated others?
Tell us about your version of Marley…
It was a great opportunity for me to be able to play a classic role and put my own twist on it. We even get to see Marley and Scrooge in a way we haven’t before, as businessmen. He is trapped in purgatory and has repented, but the only way he can be redeemed is through Scrooge realising the error of his own ways. So, there’s an added pressure on him to try and make Scrooge aware of where he’s gone wrong in life. He’s a bit like Clarence Odbody in It’s A Wonderful Life, I’ve gone for a darker, more twisted version of him. It’s A Wonderful Life has always been one of my favourite films and that is based around similar themes.
Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts...
Steven is a fantastic writer; his pedigree speaks for itself. It’s a great story and a fresh way of looking at it. It’s very apt for today and where we are as a society now.
Can you tell us about your costume?
When I first put it on, and for the first couple of days shooting, it took an hour and 20 minutes to get in to it! I never thought I would be getting dressed whilst people used drills on me! It was intense! We managed to get it down to half an hour by the end, we got into a smooth routine. It captures the time and the look is fantastic, as it is with the other ghosts and their costumes too.
Do you have any standout memories from filming?
I had such fun on it. When we were doing the work we were very serious, but I had a great time. Nick, the director, was wonderful, and Guy Pearce and Andy Serkis are both magnificent and all my stuff was with them, so it was just lovely. We’re very fortunate to be able to do a job we absolutely adore, it’s not really a job it’s a vocation. I like to have a good time when I’m there, I’m not there to be miserable, I’m there because I really love doing what I do, so I always like to have a smile on my face and get on with everyone involved.
Why do you think the story of A Christmas Carol has resonated for so long?
It’s that quintessential, rites of passage, trying to find your way, story: The idea of being given the opportunity to look back on your life before your death, to see where you’ve gone wrong and to go back and correct the errors of your way. There’s a bit between Scrooge and Marley at the end of this, when he really realises the error of his ways and has transformed, and his performance is majestic, it’s beautiful.
December 11, 2019 4:15am ET by BBC One