In every version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” you fear the deathly silent Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
The horror is back In “Spirited,” the hit AppleTV+ movie twist on Dickens’ tale, with the physically ghastly presence of the towering ghost.
This Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is not just fearsome, but legit huge with 7-foot-1 former NBA player Loren Woods under the robes.
But on the set, the imposing Woods got along great with “Spirited” star Ryan Reynolds, who plays the snarky media guy haunted by Christmas ghosts (including the Ghost of Christmas Present played by Will Ferrell).
“Loren Woods was just the sweetest guy,” says Reynolds. “And he’s a former NBA basketball player. He needed that to physically do everything that was required, all while wearing that horrible costume. But he was a delight.”
‘Spirited’ stress dreams: Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell haunted by singing and dancing
The scary character is also ultimately played for laughs in “Spirited” when voiced by Tracy Morgan (Morgan’s voice was added after filming).
Woods, who played for teams like the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors during his 6-year NBA career, makes his movie premiere in “Spirited” after appearing in the HBO Los Angeles Lakers TV series “Winning Time.”
The 44-year-old actor says his Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come outfit weighed over 30 pounds. The bulky ensemble included a huge cloak going to the floor, a long leather vest (with chains and sticks attached) and a black headpiece that covered his face for extra spookiness.
“There were eyeholes in the headpiece. But I could only see what was directly in front of me,” says Woods.
That’s tough when the assignment calls him to run or climb stairs, acts required of the ghost during his haunting period.
To make matters worse, “Spirited” was shot in Boston during four hot summer months. So those happy, winter dance numbers were sweat-inducing long days in sweltering weather.
Even Woods showed off some dance moves in his full outfit, and a singing voice, during the final musical number. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come can groove, keeping up with the professional dancers.
“Dancing in the full outfit was extremely difficult and hot!” says Woods. “The dance numbers were filmed during 10 to 12 hours a day. Needless to say, I had to be in great shape to pull it off.”
Woods knows the movie is a great showcase of his talents. “Spirited,” first released Nov. 11, has become an instant holiday favorite and was re-released in more than 100 theaters as a sing-along version on Dec. 16.
“And it prepared for the villain role in the next Dwayne Johnson movie,” says Woods. “Should they decide to hit me up for the party.”
Explaining the ‘Elf’ Easter Egg in ‘Spirited’
There is a little “Elf in “Spirited.”
The movie features Ferrell’s Ghost of Christmas Present attending a Christmas party filled with classic Christmas characters. He runs into a party-goer dressed as Ferrell’s famous character Buddy from the 2003 classic “Elf.”
Director Sean Anders says he wanted to add the “Elf” character to the party, but wasn’t sure if the joke was too meta, or what Ferrell would think of the Easter egg.
“Then Will came in one day and said, ‘What if there was someone in an ‘Elf’ costume at the party?’ and you said, ‘Great!'” says Anders. “He pretty much just played with the character.”
Ferrell’s Present tells the “Elf” party-goer, “You look stupid,” the polar opposite of what the eternally happy Buddy would say. The party-goer then shoots an angry “you look stupid” retort. It was all improv and the first take, says Anders.