Matthew Morrison Reveals the R-Rated Inspiration for His Grinch

The actor says he was inspired by this equally famous, yet darker character.

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As the holidays roll in, actor Matthew Morrison is gearing up to bring us a new version of one of the most iconically grumpy Christmas characters: the Grinch. And though the character is already known for being mean, the actor revealed that he actually based his version of this children's holiday cartoon on an even darker fictional character. According to Morrison, the inspiration behind his version of the Grinch was Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. Read on to find out what characteristics Morrison borrowed for his performance, and for more holiday celeb news, Reese Witherspoon and Her Daughter Are Twins in Matching Holiday Sweaters.

Morrison is set to bring the green misanthrope to life in Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical, airing Dec. 9 on NBC. But the actor said one the biggest challenges of bringing the character to a musical stage was figuring out how to embody the dance moves. After all, he said dancing didn't feel "very Grinch-y."

"I didn't want the Grinch to be a good dancer," Morrison told Entertainment Weekly. "I took a lot from Joaquin Phoenix's performance in Joker, just going down those steps, like loose and [reveling in] abandon and just carefree and raw. I really felt like that was how the Grinch would dance. At first, I was like 'I don't think the Grinch dances'; it didn't feel very Grinch-y, but then I came up with that and it felt right."

And while Morrison has spent many years on Broadway and a large part of his life playing the role of musical-loving glee club director Mr. Schue on Glee, this is actually the actor's first time appearing in a live TV musical.

"I had entertained [live TV musicals] a little bit, but it wasn't something I was called to or seeking out. But this one really resonated with me," Morrison explained. "They asked me to do it, and I said yes immediately because I think the theater community needs this right now… At this moment in time, with everyone feeling loneliness and isolation, probably a lot of people are feeling a little Grinch-y this year. It was just the right part and the right time."

Morrison was especially excited to play the Grinch because he says he sees the role as "one of those parts where anything goes," which may explain the left-field Joker inspiration.

"You can really do anything you want to with this character, and it won't be too big or too over-the-top," Morrison said. "I took some big swings. I don't know if they're going to be great or horrible, but I just went for it, and it felt dangerous and liberating all at the same time."

Of course, Morrison is not the first actor to take on the role of this holiday-hating character. Over the years, many actors have lended their talents to the character, whether it be on screen or on stage. For some of our favorite Grinches from the past, keep reading, and for more on Christmas movies, discover The Best Christmas Movie of All Time, According to Critics.

1
Boris Karloff

how the grinch stole christmas
MGM

Boris Karloff is the original Grinch. While the actor never donned green face paint, he did voice the Grinch in 1966's animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! And for more famous Christmas characters, check out The Best and Worst Actors Who've Played Santa Claus.

2
Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey in The Grinch
Universal Pictures

Jim Carrey may be the most recognizable Grinch actor. The actor played the titular character in 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the first live-action adaptation of the Dr. Seuss story. And for more holiday content, sign up for our daily newsletter.

3
Patrick Page

Patrick Page in The Grinch musical
Paul Kolnick

In terms of musicals, Patrick Page was the first to bring this character to the Broadway stage. Page originated the Grinch role in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical in 2006, and reprised the role on Broadway in 2007. And for more actors who took on holiday roles, check out these Famous Actors You Didn't Realize Were in Hallmark Christmas Movies.

4
Benedict Cumberbatch

The Grinch
Universal Pictures

A new animated version of The Grinch was brought to the big screen in 2018, giving Benedict Cumberbatch his chance to voice the grumpy character. And for more holiday happenings, find out The Single Most Popular Holiday Movie of All Time, Survey Says.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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