- Director Chris Columbus told Insider that Kurt Russell was so dedicated to his Santa Clause role in “The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” that he wrote a 200-page backstory on the character.
- Columbus said he took the mythology as seriously on this movie as he did with “Harry Potter” when he made the first two movies of the franchise.
- To pull off the holiday feel, Netflix built a giant Santa’s village set, which Columbus said was even bigger than the Great Hall set in his “Potter” movies.
- There also was some de-ageing tech done to Russell to pull off a flashback scene.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If there’s one thing Chris Columbus has shown throughout his career, it’s that he loves holiday movies.
He directed the iconic “Home Alone,” produced the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sinbad zany comedy “Jingle All the Way,” and almost took on “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (he quickly exited after realising he couldn’t work with its star Chevy Chase). But he admits he’s never gone so deep into the holidays, and specifically the mythology of Christmas, until he worked with Kurt Russell on Netflix’s “The Christmas Chronicles” movies.
After being a producer on the first movie, which was a sensation for Netflix as the company announced back in 2018 that it had over 20 million views its first week, Columbus has taken over the directing reigns for the sequel, “The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” (available on Netflix beginning Wednesday). Columbus said that working on the Christmas movie with Russell led to a deep dive into Santa Clause that he never expected.
“Kurt takes this role incredibly seriously,” Columbus told Insider. “It may sound silly to some people, but Kurt approaches Santa Clause as if he were a method actor.”
‘I took this as seriously as the world of ‘Potter”
“The Christmas Chronicles” follows Santa (Russell) as he tries to save Christmas with the help of siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis), and the sequel is much more vast with most of the action happening at the North Pole. In it, Kate and friend Jack (Jazhir Bruno) help Santa and Mrs. Clause (Goldie Hawn) ward off the evil elf Belsnickel (Julian Dennison).
There’s an elaborate backstory on the creation of Santa Clause, a plot that involves a Christmas-themed dance number, and the movie closes out with a heart-warming rendition of “O Christmas Tree” led by Russell and Hawn.
According to Columbus, a lot of the inspiration for the sequel and its hefty mythology came from Russel himself.
“Kurt wrote probably 175 to 200 written pages about Santa’s history,” Columbus said. “He just went and did that on his own. He’s just committed to the role in such a major way.”
Once Netflix expressed its interest in doing a sequel, Columbus offered to direct and quickly teamed with Russell and the screenwriter from the first movie, Matt Lieberman, to go even deeper into their depiction of Saint Nick.
“I wasn’t interested in making a film that was similar to the first one,” Columbus said. “I want people to immerse themselves with the world of Christmas in a way they have never had the opportunity before.”
“I took this as seriously as the world of ‘Potter,'” Columbus continued, referring to when he launched the “Harry Potter” movie franchise by directing the first two movies, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
Kurt Russell was de-aged in a flashback scene
Netflix went matched Russell and Columbus’ enthusiasm by allowing the production to construct massive sets for the movie, including Santa’s village, which is prominently featured throughout the movie.
“Santa’s village is the biggest set that’s been built for one of my films,” Columbus said. “Even bigger than the Great Hall on ‘Potter,’ which was the biggest set on those movies at the time.”
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a good dose of CGI. The computer-animated elves are more prominent in the “Chronicles” sequel and there was a little de-ageing done to give Russell a young Santa Clause look in a flashback sequence. Though not done at a “The Irishman” level, according to Columbus.
“There was a little bit of tech, but I’d say 75% of it was makeup,” Columbus said of Russell’s young look in the flashback. “It was kind of the same thing they did on the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie Kurt was in. He had the same makeup person.”
Russell came up with one of the best lines Goldie Hawn delivers in the movie
Columbus said one of the biggest highlights was getting Russell and Hawn to team up on screen again. Though Hawn makes a very brief appearance at the end of the first movie, this time around her Mrs. Clause is a major figure in the story. It marks the first time the long-time Hollywood it couple has starred in a movie since 1987’s “Overboard.”
“When Kurt and I sat down to talk about what would happen in the second movie, we really wanted to dig deep into the mythology of Santa’s relationship with Mrs Clause, so there’s an entire backstory that maybe someday will see the light of day,” Columbus said.
This is evident in a scene where Kate and Jack show up to the North Pole and Mrs. Clause mentions to Santa that it’s nice to have children in Santa’s village again as the two share a look.
“That sequence is based on history that Kurt and I came up with that is not talked about but infused her performance,” Columbus said. “I like having those little mysteries throughout the movie.”
Columbus said he never felt that he and Russell ever went too deep down the rabbit hole to showcase the world of Christmas, comparing it to how intense George Lucas was about his “Star Wars” saga, “and that worked out pretty well for him,” he said.
In one of the movie’s most touching moments Jack tells Mrs. Clause, “I’ll never forget you,” and she responds: “Oh, you will from time to time, and that’s how it should be.”
It was Russell who came up with the line for Hawn, Columbus boasts.
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