DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
Getting the movie off the ground might be the most amazing aspect to the whole production. Sought after by Hollywood for years, Theodor S. Geisel (Dr. Seuss) never considered having this book or any of his books turned into movies. He had an unhappy experience in the early 1950's with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T (Geisel wrote the
fantasy) and the 1966 animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas was something he was very satisfied with and didn't think it could be improved upon.
After his death in 1991, his widow Audrey resisted all suitors but what changed her mind was that the exponential leap in computer technology meant that Seuss' unique vision could be realized and expanded beyond mere animation.
"I realized the potential to do it right was there and I really got interested in wanting to see the Grinch come alive" says Geisel.
It was then that her representatives sent word to the Hollywood community that offers to make the book into a movie would be entertained. It was organized so that all the major studios sent their top producers to make their pitch to Audrey Geisel in person.
"I went to her home in La Jolla (California) and pitched her our story idea and I could tell she was going south on it and I said, I can tell this isn't working for you and she said, it just doesn't seem right,"' recalls producer Brian Grazer. "I pleaded with her for one more chance before she made her decision, but she was sort of noncommittal.
'I spent the next week with Ron retooling the story and I kept begging her to let me have one more day in court with her and she finally agreed to the second meeting and it was enough for her to wipe all the other proposals off the table.
"Audrey is very passionate about protecting the spirit and integrity of her husband's work, but at the same time she wanted to be smart and business-like about it."
Jim Carrey had made it clear to the Hollywood community that he was interested in playing the Grinch. Fortunately, Grazer had a relationship with Carrey since he produced the movie Liar Liar which had a worldwide gross of $300 million.
For Carrey, the chance to play the Grinch had a visceral effect on him. "It wasn't Christmas growing up without the reading of the book and watching the cartoon," recalls
Carrey. "When the movie project came up, I realized that it was a dream come true even though I never had fantasized about it before."
"When we all realized we were chasing the same goal, we threw in together and unified," says Ron Howard. Initially, Howard was supporting Grazer's long quest (he first approached the agent for the Seuss estate in 1995) only as Grazer's partner in Imagine Entertainment. The more Howard started thinking about the uniqueness of the Grinch's character and the visual possibilities that the movie held, the more he started thinking he wanted this project not only for Imagine Entertainment but also for himself to direct.
"I always saw Jim as the Grinch because the Grinch
has mythic size proportions who operates behaviorally out of power," says Grazer. "When he is proactive, when he animates and when power is central the character; that's when Jim is at his best. So the intersection of what the Grinch is about thematically and what Jim Carrey is as a performer is a perfect match."
Having a performer like Carrey in Howard's corner on such a film was quite a boon. "His incredible imagination, energy and physical talents made him the perfect, and only choice, to bring the Grinch to life," says Howard.
Carrey did have to make an audition of sorts, this for Dr. Seuss' widow, Audr
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