Why Richard Curtis decided to remake his own Christmas movie

melissa mccarthy as flora, paapa essiedu as bernard bottle, jordyn mcintosh as eve, genie
Richard Curtis reveals why he remade his own movieUniversal Pictures/Peacock

Richard Curtis has revealed why his Christmas movie Genie is a remake of one of his previous films.

Curtis' new film is a remake of his 1991 work Bernard and the Genie — which followed the story of Bernard Bottle, a man who discovered a genie after being fired by his boss and abandoned by his girlfriend.

Explaining why he chose to remake the film, which now stars Paapa Essiedu as workaholic Bernard and Melissa McCarthy as Flora the genie, Curtis (who is also working on stage show Christmas Actually) revealed that he had wanted to expand on the story ever since the original's release.

"Well, the moment I finished the original, I started to think that there was more," he told Digital Spy, adding that he felt the 1991 film "didn't really" have a plot.

melissa mccarthy as flora, paapa essiedu as bernard bottle, jordyn mcintosh as eve, genie
Universal Pictures/Peacock

The screenwriter continued: "I had this idea of it being a man whose life is completely destroyed, his family leaves him and then he gets his family back. I think I'd just been thinking so much about family.

"We're all looking for complex happiness and really it's just having dinner with the people we love. So it seemed the right time, and I've been waiting for Paapa to grow up so he's old enough to play a man with kids and then he could be in it."

Curtis also touched on his decision to change the movie's setting, opting to film in New York instead of London, revealing he wanted to "exploit" the city "at least once" in his career.

"It was pretty timeless," he said. "There was a Dickensian feel to that and I did think that it would be lovely for me to make a movie set in New York. I've never made an American movie, really, and it was such a pleasure to be able to exploit Manhattan."

richard curtis at a screening of genie in london
Kate Green - Getty Images

Meanwhile, Essiedu revealed he "purposefully" didn't watch the original as they had wanted to create a film which felt "felt true to our story,"

The actor also touched on working with Alan Cumming, adding that it felt like a "full-circle" to have him appear in the movie. Cumming had starred Bernard in the original and features as the character's boss in the remake.

"It was great to have Alan Cumming playing my boss, Flaxman, in this movie because that had a full-circle feeling that nodded to that."

Genie is released on Sky Cinema on 1 December. Christmas Actually is at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall from December 7-11. For tickets visit

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