Actors Who Played Santa Claus on Screen

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.

Thornton 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.”

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



Tom Hanks This actor reunited with Cast Away and Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis for 2004’s The Polar Express, playing Santa Claus, the protagonist and various other characters in the CGI film. Warner Bros.
Tom Hanks This actor reunited with Cast Away and Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis for 2004’s The Polar Express, playing Santa Claus, the protagonist and various other characters in the CGI film. Warner Bros. A360

Kurt Russell Not only did the Hateful Eight actor play Santa Claus in 2018’s The Christmas Chronicles, but his longtime partner, Goldie Hawn, played Mrs. Claus. Netflix
Kurt Russell Not only did the Hateful Eight actor play Santa Claus in 2018’s The Christmas Chronicles, but his longtime partner, Goldie Hawn, played Mrs. Claus. Netflix A360

Tim Allen The Last Man Standing star played an ordinary joe who grudgingly takes on the gift-giving duties in 1994’s The Santa Clause and its two sequels. Allen also reprised his role as Santa Claus in the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, which launched in 2022.  Walt Disney
Tim Allen The Last Man Standing star played an ordinary joe who grudgingly takes on the gift-giving duties in 1994’s The Santa Clause and its two sequels. Allen also reprised his role as Santa Claus in the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, which launched in 2022. Walt Disney A360

John Goodman This star of The Conners portrayed St. Nicholas in 2006’s The Year Without a Santa Claus. Fun fact: He also voiced Robot Santa in Futurama. Warner Bros.
John Goodman This star of The Conners portrayed St. Nicholas in 2006’s The Year Without a Santa Claus. Fun fact: He also voiced Robot Santa in Futurama. Warner Bros. A360

Ed Asner The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum took on the role of Santa in 2003’s Elf … though it was really Bob Newhart’s Papa Elf who raised the titular Will Ferrell character. New Line Cinema
Ed Asner The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum took on the role of Santa in 2003’s Elf … though it was really Bob Newhart’s Papa Elf who raised the titular Will Ferrell character. New Line Cinema A360

Paul Giamatti The Golden Globe winner played Santa in 2007’s Fred Claus, opposite Vince Vaughn as the character’s annoying big brother. Warner Bros.
Paul Giamatti The Golden Globe winner played Santa in 2007’s Fred Claus, opposite Vince Vaughn as the character’s annoying big brother. Warner Bros. A360

Alec Baldwin The 30 Rock alum voiced Nicholas St. North a.k.a. Santa Claus in 2012’s Rise of the Guardians, a 3D-animated hodgepodge of various fables. DreamWorks
Alec Baldwin The 30 Rock alum voiced Nicholas St. North a.k.a. Santa Claus in 2012’s Rise of the Guardians, a 3D-animated hodgepodge of various fables. DreamWorks A360

Richard Attenborough Though he’s best known for his role in Jurassic Park, this Brit put his own spin on Kris Kringle in 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street. 20th Century Fox
Richard Attenborough Though he’s best known for his role in Jurassic Park, this Brit put his own spin on Kris Kringle in 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street. 20th Century Fox A360

Fred Astaire The legendary actor and dancer portrayed nine different characters — Santa included — in 1979’s The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. NBC
Fred Astaire The legendary actor and dancer portrayed nine different characters — Santa included — in 1979’s The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. NBC A360

Billy Bob Thornton The Goliath actor put a dark twist on the character in 2003’s Bad Santa and reprised the role for a sequel 13 years later. Columbia Pictures
Billy Bob Thornton The Goliath actor put a dark twist on the character in 2003’s Bad Santa and reprised the role for a sequel 13 years later. Columbia Pictures A360

Bryan Cranston The Breaking Bad alum voiced Santa in the 2001 animated special The Santa Claus Brothers, which featured Cranston's character choosing which of his three sons will take over the family business. YouTube; Inset: Shutterstock
Bryan Cranston The Breaking Bad alum voiced Santa in the 2001 animated special The Santa Claus Brothers, which featured Cranston’s character choosing which of his three sons will take over the family business. YouTube; Inset: Shutterstock A360

Patton Oswalt The actor played a 3D version of a mall Santa in the 2001 movie A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. New Line/Kobal/Shutterstock
Patton Oswalt The actor played a 3D version of a mall Santa in the 2001 movie A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. New Line/Kobal/Shutterstock A360

Copyright 2023 Us Weekly. All rights reserved

This story was originally published December 5, 2023, 2:49 PM.

source: star-telegram

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