Dan Stevens remembers his father, who was a fan of Charles Dickens, reading “David Copperfield” to him as a kid growing up in England, and the actor recalls being “captivated” by an audiobook reading of “Great Expectations” by Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor Who, when he was about nine or ten.
Now 25 years later, Stevens is portraying Dickens in the “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” being released on Wednesday.
The film from Bharat Nalluri (“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”) focuses on the six weeks that the novelist created his enduring holiday tale and one of his most famous characters, Ebenezer Scrooge (played here by Christopher Plummer).
“’A Christmas Carol’ is part of the fabric of English culture,” notes Steven, 35, “But I liked the idea that we weren’t trying to do the novel, but trying to keep Dickens the man alive.”
“The Man Who Invented Christmas” finds Dickens at age 31, already famous as the author of “Oliver Twist.” But the writer had experienced three flops in a row, was facing financial problems and had four children with another on the way.
“As someone with three children, I can only imagine what kind of pressure that would be on its own,” says Stevens. “Not to mention the pressure he was under to deliver his next big hit.”
Dickens decided to gamble on himself, writing and self-publishing a Christmas book in time for the holiday. In the film, the novelist’s chaotic life, impacted by his father’s presence, collides with the characters and the story he’s creating.
“In our story, these characters become manifest, but we wanted them to feel quite real so there wasn’t much green screen,” says Stevens. “’A Christmas Carol’ itself is kind of sci-fi concept of a character time-traveling through their life and at the time it was a unique idea.”
In the film – based on Les…