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Jim Carrey’s The Grinch almost looked very different with another star

We can't imagine anyone but Jim Carrey bringing The Grinch to life now, but these abandoned plans for an animated movie are tantalizing.

Jim Carrey as The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas

When someone mentions The Grinch, all I can see is Jim Carrey‘s huge grin and those fluffy, green sideburns. Still, now that I know Jack Nicholson was almost the man behind the miserly beast years before Carrey, I’m having a hard time shaking the idea of what could’ve been.

Yes, I know Jim Carrey is one of the best actors around, and he was absolutely perfect for the part of Whoville’s tormentor. The unhinged energy of the Grinch was captured with unnerving ease by Carrey, and his comedic qualities added an extra special magic to the character. But, let’s forget about that for a moment, and revel in the glory of a CGI Grinch inspired by Jack Nicholson, shall we?

Artist Berkeley Breathed got as far as putting together concept art for the Grinch/Nicholson hybrid (shared via Brian Michael Bendis), but the Christmas movie sadly never saw the light of day. On the idea, Breathed said: “In the mid-nineties, we made a bid for The Grinch movie rights. I saw the film as being a CG animated romp with Jack Nicholson in the lead role and created the art to demonstrate.”

Honestly, the concept art is awesome. From the Grinch slumped in a chair in a desolate Who house, to Nicholson’s statement eyebrows in cartoon form, and of course, that iconic moment as Grinchy stands atop Mount Crumpet to bask in the glory of his Christmastime crime, Berkeley had it all covered. I love the way his version harks back to the classic animated movie from 1966, too, with a surrealist twist on Seuss’ iconic festive foe.

The concept even got the blessing of some very important people, but it wasn’t enough: “Dr. Suess’s widow Audrey Geisel enjoyed our vision. She enjoyed the vision of Ron Howard and Universal’s option money somewhat more, alas.” Berkeley said. The fact this Nicholson-led film never came to fruition ultimately made it possible for Carrey’s version to exist, which I’ll never be mad about.

Carrey and Howard, quite simply, got everything right when they made How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and I cannot imagine the festive period without it. It’s laugh out loud funny, it’s super creative in the way it depicts Whoville, and Carrey’s titular character goes on a convincing journey from terrifying monster to endearing hero. Honestly, it’s the best movie for Christmas, and we’re lucky to have it in our lives.

If you need more for your yuletide plans, check out the best Netflix Christmas movies or the best Disney Plus Christmas movies. You can also find out why Will Ferrell is the king of Christmas, and find out what the deal is with The Grinch 2.