He is one of my favorite writers. A smart social critic, I welcome his opinions on the plight of the downtrodden in our own 21st century.
George Bernard Shaw wrote that Great Expectations was more seditious than Karl Marx‘s Das Kapital.
I consider myself an ideal Dickensian actor. I think I look like I stepped out from one of his Victorian novels. I am not sure why I was not cast in more Dicken’s adaptations, I think that I would be a smart choice for any of the roles in A Christmas Carol (1843), except maybe Mrs. Cratchit. Why couldn’t I have at least played the boy who fetches his turkey at the end of the story?
I did get to play Fagin in Oliver!. It remains my favorite character that I have played, one of my few leading roles, although he does not appear for the first 40 minutes of the musical and in the production I was in, the talented young boy playing Oliver Twist had the final curtain call (as it should be). Playing Fagin meant so much to me. It was truly my dream role, plus I got to play it without sleeping with the director or producer. I was only 26-years-old when I did the show, but still convincing in the part without using a putty nose or even a lot of makeup, other than soot. Like Richard Harris in Camelot, Yul Brynner in The King And I, or Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!, I could have played the thing for decades, touring to every little city and going through generations of Fagin’ s boys.
42 years later, I am still friends on The Facebook with my Artful Dodger, Oliver Twist, and several of the little pickpockets. Some of those Fagin’s boys are now grandfathers. A nice memory for me this morning as I consider Charles Dickens. By the way, I was rather terrific in that role. Casting directors, I could be persuaded out of retirement to play Vincent Crummles or Mr. Micawber.
I have read most of Dickens’ major works. I would have to name the aptly named, sooty, swirling, snowflakes black with grime, indistinguishable masses slipping and sliding through Bleak House (1853) as my favorite. But, that is just how I feel today.
For film adaptations, on IMBD I lost count at 138: 45 A Christmas Carols! And, I would have to name the 2012 version of Great Expectations, directed by Mike Newell, as the one that thrilled me the most, with a soft spot, of course for the film version of Oliver! (1968), one of the finest stage to screen transfers of all time.
Check out The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020), written and directed by Armando Iannucci (VEEP), based on the 1850 novel David Copperfield. It stars cutie-pie Dev Patel as the title character, with a supporting cast the features Daisy May Cooper, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, and out actor Ben Whishaw. It has won lots of critic’s circle awards, was nominated for 11 BAFTA Awards (winning for Laurie and for Best Screenplay), plus Patel is nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Laurie portrays the character named “Mr. Dick”!
On road trips, The Husband and I used to invent Dickens character names like Chumpster Chokesum Hardd or Pretty Pamela Pussy. But nothing these days can compare with the name Benedict Cumberbatch.