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Christmas Comes Early for the Snarky Stars of ‘Fred Claus’

[IMG:L]What do you get when you assemble the edgy, A-list bad boys of Fred ClausVince Vaughn, Kevin SpaceyPaul Giamatti and Ludacris – to talk about their new film and some nostalgic Christmas memories? A little naughty and a lot of nice.

Hollywood.com: What brought a bunch of troublemakers like you to get together for a happy holiday family film?
Vince Vaughn:
Look at the actors I have the fortune of working with. Everyone’s been nominated or won but me, I sort of get a complex on the set after a while. Spacey would look at me like, “Well, that’s a choice. You could do that. That’s nice, you’re making a nice turn in the movie.” But now, we had such an unbelievable cast of actors that really elevated everything…It’s a testament to [director] David [Dobkin], in that I loved those Claymation films growing up, and this kind of feels like a live-action one of those. It has such great heart to it. I think it works on a smart level. Kevin and me were talking about a scene that we are not supposed to talk about which is a really smart, kind of adult-themed scene. The movie never has to be risqué or shock value or gratuitous in order to accomplish that. so, the adults really are following it on one level, and the kids are really connecting on another level.

Kevin Spacey: For me it was a very easy decision to say yes to coming on, having as much fun as we had…You want to fulfill and check all the comedy boxes, but you also want it to be rooted in something so that by the end of the film an audience walks out and the movie has a theme. It’s got some ideas to it, it’s got a spirit to it. There is a kind of lesson to be learned. I did a movie a bunch of years ago, the only other Christmas movie I’ve done, and it was called The Ref. It was a movie that I loved and had a great time. Again, it is a movie that has a slightly twisted way into what is sort of the more traditional and a little more sentimental. I had a blast, we had a really good time.

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[IMG:R]Paul Giamatti: I have to say, I get a script like this and I’m not thinking “Oh, I’m doing a big holiday movie.” I just got a good script. I got something that was interesting to me. It’s a nice part, a fine director, and then when I hear all the other people doing it I know it’s going to be a good time. Working with him, I know how great he is. This guy is a great director. I never think of it in terms of ‘Oh, I’m going to do a holiday picture.’ It just was a good script.

Ludacris: I just love to laugh and that’s really why I took on this role. Of course I knew, because of the cast, and I loved the script the first time I read it. It was laugh-out -oud funny.

HW: What was the one Christmas gift you hoped you would get but never did?
I guess understanding. Thanks for asking. Sometimes under the shell turtle’s kind of a soft interior. [Laughs] No. I don’t know, as a kid Christmas is fun because you want toys. Then when you get socks or shirts you kind of don’t want those. As you get older that is all you get. It’s nice to have kids around because you kind of get to enjoy Christmas. I have a nephew and some nieces and them opening presents and being excited in that way is fun.

Giamatti: You are not getting understanding.

Vaughn: That’s okay. [laughs] Sometimes you have to wait until next year and be thankful for the things that I did get. Thank you, guys.

[IMG:L]Spacey: I didn’t really have a secret gift wish. I never went through a childhood wishing I had gotten something that I didn’t get. My parents didn’t instill that kind of materialism, so we were just happy to be around each other, and to share in what the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be about.

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Giamatti: Believe me, I could never get what I wanted. I could never really get everything I wanted.

Vaughn: Paul, come over here and hug me right now. [Laughs]

HW: Paul can you talk about the mindset it takes to get into to play an icon like Santa Claus?
I did a lot of deep backstory. [Laughs] Part of the nice thing about it is that it’s such an archetype. You know a lot of it, so it’s not that I had to work up the Ho-Ho-Ho. I worked on that, I worked hard on that, Kevin, and you laughed.

Spacey: No, I didn’t. [Laughs]

Giamatti: You didn’t, okay. I put in as much effort as I could to get the right things down that I could. You know, it’s a character on the page and he’s supposed to be sort of a regular guy who is over worked and over stressed. I took a character like that and then I overlaid the rest of it.

HW: How much did the Santa fat suit weigh and how hard was that wearing it? How did you deal with that?
I don’t know how much it weighed.

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Spacey: You were wearing a fat suit?

Giamatti: Thank you, Kevin.

Vaughn: Kevin thought you were like De Niro.

[IMG:R]HW: Do you remember a time when your faith in Santa Claus may have been shaken in your childhood?
I remember the day I had neighbors that let me know, I was 6 years old, that there was no Santa Claus. They go “You know there’s not a Santa Claus, right?” and of course covering in front of them I was like ‘Well, yeah. Of course there’s not a Santa Claus, guys.’ Then I went to my sisters and they said “Okay, now you know the painful truth, there is not a Santa Claus.” I was the youngest. They said “Don’t tell Mom and Dad because then we may not get gifts anymore. You got to keep pretending that you think there is Santa Claus, or you are not going to get any gifts.” Then I was like 16 going “Dad, when is Santa coming down?’ My Dad was like “Look. it’s getting weird, you are getting older, you know there’s not a Santa. We’re going to keep giving gifts, but there is no Santa. You know that, right?” I said “You’re going to keep giving gifts? Yeah, there is no Santa. I get that. I totally get that.” That was my experience with it, but I can’t speak for this group of angels that are sitting up here.

Ludacris: I was 6 years old, and in the middle of the night during Christmas got up to go to the bathroom. I peeked in the living room and saw my father eating Santa’s cookies and milk. I was devastated. It was a traumatic experience for me and I’m still getting over that to this day. It started me analyzing the situation and asking a lot of questions. From there I realized that Santa Claus was not real. It wasn’t a good Christmas for me.

[IMG:L]Spacey: I never lost my faith in Santa Claus.

Giamatti: I was never buying it, I never bought it. It never made sense to me, it didn’t add up, never bought it. The Easter Bunny, for some reason, I bought.

Vaughn: We just did this fun short for the World Series with these kids. We did Claus kind of coaching. We did the whole thing and it was over, one of the kids was 9 or 10, came running up to me afterwards. He goes “Hey, Fred!” I felt like Joe Green in that Coca Cola commercial. He’s like “Hey, Fred!” I turned and looked at him, I said “Yeah?” He says “Tell your brother to get me something this year.” I looked at him and I said “Oh, I got you. I got you.” So, now I’m just hoping that this guy is getting something good. Otherwise he’s going to hunt me down.

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