Henson talked about how “The Muppet Christmas Carol” had a reputation in England as being one of the most literarily faithful adaptations of Charles Dickens‘ story ever made, a description he finds incredibly flattering. He credits screenwriter Jerry Juhl, as well as Goelz (the performer of Gonzo) for the quality of the film, but reveals that, during production, he had reached a strange creative impasse. Although the story can stand on its own, Henson felt that it was an enormous pity that Dickens’ own voice would not be included. It was then that a producer suggested the possibility of including Dickens in the story as an on-screen narrator.
After kind of muttering through a few ideas, Henson struck on the idea that Gonzo could play Dickens. But one of those mutters was indeed the theory that Dickens would perhaps be played by a puppet. Dickens, if one has seen portraits of the author, had pretty wild hair and an expressive face. It’s possible that Dickens would have translated well to Muppet form. This, of course, would be the highest honor an author could achieve.
Ultimately, they went with Gonzo. Loathe to leave a Muppet on screen alone, however, Rizzo (Steve Whitmire) was immediately brought in as a sidekick. Brilliantly, it turns out, as Rizzo’s streetwise wisecracking proved to be a perfect counterpoint for the classier Dickensian prose. Additionally, fans could now enjoy the very first Muppet feature film that, in a way, featured Gonzo in the lead.
Well, second to Scrooge, of course.