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12 Actors Who Played Santa Claus on Screen

Ho ho ho! Some stars have taken on the ultimate challenge of spreading Christmas cheer by portraying the most iconic holiday figure — Santa Claus.

While all actors find themselves donning a red suit and white beard in their roles as Santa, Billy Bob Thorton had the unique task of playing a naughty version in the 2003 film Bad Santa.

The Arkansas native admitted in October 2019 that he turned to method acting for the infamous scene where his character, Willie, gets drunk before reporting to duty as a mall Santa.

“I was drunk. It’s so obvious,” he told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “I drank about three glasses of red wine for breakfast. That was just an appetizer. Then I switched over to vodka and cranberry juice and then I had a few Bud Lights.”

Thorton added, “By the time I got to that scene there I barely knew I was in a movie. The fact of the matter is I was supposed to be standing on the escalator. It dumps me out and it literally woke me up and that’s what’s in the movie. And I get up, standing around because I thought I woke up in my house. And then I remembered what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go there and fall down in all those gifts and be horrible in front of the kids.”

Although the film is filled with crude jokes, Thorton believes Bad Santa has earned its place among other Christmas classics.

“I think it’s the alternative to the real syrupy Christmas movies — I think people wanted that at the time and now, even more,” he told EW in October 2016. “There was that spot missing. I have people come up to me all the time and say to me, ‘Every year we watch Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life and Bad Santa. It’s become part of the box set.’”

Tim Allen also played an unconventional version of Santa in the 1994 film The Santa Clause, where Scott (Allen) is tapped to take over as Kris Kringle after Santa Claus falls off his roof. The Home Improvement alum revealed in November 2018 that the movie almost had a more sinister premise.

“The original Santa Clause is a little darker, written by two comedians, and I actually shot and killed Santa, in the original movie,” Allen explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “He fell off the roof because I thought he was a burglar.”

Scroll down to see the actors who’ve portrayed Jolly Old St. Nick below.