By Lynette Rice
October 21, 2019 at 04:45 PM EDT

A Christmas Carol will always be the gift that keeps on giving, but that doesn’t mean Andy Serkis (Black Panther) was immediately sold on playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in a new adaptation premiering on FX in December.

“Do we really need another one?” Serkis remembers asking, especially since he grew up loving the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as the heartless miser Ebenezer Scrooge. “But this is the most amazing piece. It felt very contemporary and fresh.”

And a smidge more youthful: Unlike previous iterations in which Scrooge was played by rather unappealing men, this version stars easy-on-the-eyes Guy Pearce, 52, in the role of the despicable cheapskate who is visited by multiple spirits on Christmas Eve. “What I wanted to do was to make Ebenezer Scrooge someone who, if it weren’t for what he is and how he behaves, would be an attractive man,” writer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) shares of his vision. “I didn’t want to make him look like his soul, because his soul is pretty wretched. But on the outside, he’s okay. I wanted the audience to say to themselves, ‘Why is this person like this?’”

Credit: Robert Viglasky/FX
Credit: Robert Viglasky/FX
Credit: Robert Viglasky/FX

Joining Pearce in the miniseries is The Favourite’s Joe Alwyn as Scrooge’s poor, put-upon clerk Bob Cratchit; This Is England’s Stephen Graham as the miser’s dead business partner, Jacob Marley; Peaky Blinders’ Charlotte Riley as Scrooge’s sister Lottie; and Pennyworth’s Jason Flemyng as the Ghost of Christmas Future (he replaced an ailing Rutger Hauer, who died July 19).

And while there has always been a rather chilling aspect to the Charles Dickens classic, this version could definitely have you blurting blimey by the time Scrooge encounters his first ghost. “What makes this version original is the depth that it mines,” explains Pearce, who starred as an adviser to Queen Elizabeth in last year’s Mary Queen of Scots. “Steven tries to be faithful to the original but digs deeper and explores the past that Scrooge has experienced, to a level that will perhaps make audiences more uncomfortable than they were while watching [a previous iteration of ] A Christmas Carol.”

Well, God bless us, every one.

Credit: JSquared Photography/Contour/Getty

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