Spotlight on Simon Callow of A Christmas Carol
| By Ephram Ryan
(Updated on Oct 4, 2018)
From playing one of the most important musicians of all time, Mozart, and losing thousands of dollars for appearing in 1995’s Ace Ventura sequel to playing the notorious Ebenezer Scrooge, we’re presenting everything you need to know about A Christmas Carol’s sole spectacular actor, Simon Callow.
Pictured: Simon Callow as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 2016 run of A Christmas Carol
One of the UK’s most beloved and iconic actors, Simon Callow, is set to reprise his role as the cruel-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge in this year’s return of A Christmas Carol. Callow first portrayed the miserable miser when he lent his voice to the 2001 animated film, Christmas Carol: The Movie. He later brought the character to life for the West End stage in 2012 in a one-man adaptation of the tale that was intended to be performed by Charles Dickens himself. Ahead of the show’s highly anticipated third revival, we are casting the spotlight on the magnificent Simon Callow!
Simon Callow was born Simon Phillip Hugh Callow in Streatham, London in 1949 to a French-English father and mother of Danish and German descent. At the age of six, the mother of the headmaster of his school taught him how to read. One day, she turned on the radio to listen to Macbeth, which featured eerie music and sound effects that shook Callow to his core. Yet, under the headmaster’s mother’s arms, he felt safe and attentively listened to the play. It was on that day that Shakespeare entered into Callow's life and changed his life forever.
Years later, Callow dropped out of his degree programme at Queen’s University Belfast to study acting at the Drama Centre London. Callow entered the theatre scene at the age of 18 when he wrote a fan letter to Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Sir Laurence Olivier, claiming how organised he was. He received a response inviting him to work on the box office staff at The Old Vic, thereby getting his foot in the door. The job was menial, but the opportunity he had to meet some of the most famous theatre actors of our time was priceless. He reportedly frequently lunched with such actors as Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Brett, Jane Lapotaire, John Gielgud, and Laurence Olivier himself. After witnessing countless big-name actors rehearse on stage, Callow caught the acting bug and realised his calling was in acting.
Callow made his stage debut in the 1973 production of The Thrie Estates at the Assembly Rooms Theatre in Edinburgh. Having been openly gay at the time, Callow also joined the Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company, performing in the critically acclaimed Martin Sherman production of Passing By. Callow’s breakthrough role on stage came in 1979 when he originated the role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus at the National Theatre. On landing the role of Mozart, Simon Callow once proclaimed, “[I] discovered Mozart quite early: the operas, the symphonies, the concertos, the wind serenades were all very much part of my musical landscape when I was asked to play the part of the composer in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus; possibly this was one of the reasons I got the job.”
Callow later reprised the role along with the original cast for the 1983 BBC radio production. He also made his film debut in the 1984 film of Amadeus in which he portrayed Emanuel Schikaneder instead of Mozart. His other notable film credits include playing The Reverend Mr. Beebe in A Room with a View, for which he received a BAFTA Film Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Gareth the gay Scotsmen in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Grasshopper in James and the Giant Peach, and Vincent Cadby alongside Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
Though Callow’s role in the Ace Ventura sequel was minor, it left a major impact on his career and a funny story to tell. Jim Carrey reportedly did not want to make the sequel, which Callow has recalled as awkward. Callow was also only contracted to stay in the US for filming for a certain number of weeks. So when the star of Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey, got sick, Callow was forced to stay beyond his deadline unpaid. With several other projects in the UK going for him at the time, it was recommended by the film’s producers that Callow fly back and forth. His contract also said he was obliged to receive first-class flights, so he thoguht, "Why not?" Little did he know those flights would be deducted from his fee. Callow reportedly roars with laughter whenever the story is brought up.
Aside from having frequently played Mozart, Simon Callow has also frequently portrayed Charles Dickens. He played the writer in the 1996 television special, An Audience With Charles Dickens and in the 2000 television film, The Mystery of Charles Dickens. He has also even made a guest appearance as the 19th-century writer on two episodes of Doctor Who (in the 2005 episode “The Unquiet Dead” and in the 2011 episode “The Wedding of River Song”).
And now, Callow will be portraying Charles Dickens’ beloved character, Ebenezer Scrooge, once again for this year’s return of A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow!
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most popular books in the English language. It has been told year after year for many generations and has been countlessly adapted into films and for the television and the stage. The adaption made for Dickens’ own public performances will be brought to life by the wonderful Simon Callow once again when it opens at the Arts Theatre on 8 December 2018, lasting until 12 January 2019.
Don’t be a Scrooge and book your tickets to see the spectacular Simon Callow in A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow, a perfect gift for the whole family!
Purchase your tickets to A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow.