Violent Night shouldn’t work. It’s a super violent action movie that sees Santa literally murdering people with a sledgehammer. Yet, despite all the gore and violence, it might be one of my new favourite Christmas movies.
David Harbour stars as a jaded, slightly broken Santa Claus who’s grown weary of giving gifts to boys and girls. However, when a little girl, Trudie (Leah Brady), is taken hostage by mercenaries and their leader Mr Scrooge (John Leguizamo), Santa springs into action to save the day.
As I made clear in our Violent Night review, we had a great time with this weird little movie and think it’s the perfect film to kick off the holiday season. So when we got to talk to the main man himself, David Harbour, it was like an early Christmas present.
The Digital Fix: Has it always been your dream to play Santa? If not, what convinced you to put on jolly old Saint Nick’s suit?
David Harbour: It has not really been my dream. I never thought it was on the cards for me. And I think that it would have required, and did require, a very unique version of Santa Claus for me to play Santa Claus.
I think the sweet, jolly guy is somewhat within me, but it’s a little more complicated than that. And that required a Santa that was a little more complicated. So what convinced me was, you know, it’s a very unique Santa Claus movie.
It definitely has that Christmas movie feel to it. And it hopefully will make you leave the theatre believing in the spirit of Christmas and giving and generosity. But the way that it gets there is wildly unique. And I’ve never seen anything or read anything like it. And I thought, Oh, this is great. I want to try to do this.
TDF: You’re not wrong about this being a unique Santa, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Father Christmas using a sledgehammer to cross people off the naughty list before. What was your favourite action scene to film?
DH: My favourite action scene to film? I think it’s like the second fight we have where I’m in this basement with this pool table and this Christmas tree and that was just really fun to film.
The stunt actor I worked with, I just loved him. He was so great, and it just is very creative in its use of the world. There are pool balls; there’s a dartboard; there’s a Christmas tree; there’s the Santa’s bag itself, which you can get lost in. There are all sorts of things which we use to fight and that was really fun.
TDF: I would agree with you there. We won’t spoil anything but, oh my god, you can’t do that with a Christmas ornament.
DH: [laughs] Pretty brutal!
TDF: One of my favourite things in the film is Santa’s relationship with Mrs Claus. We never see Mrs Claus in movies, but if you could pick any actor or actress in the world to play her, who would you have picked?
DH: This is a hard one. There are so many extraordinary actresses in the world. There’s an embarrassment of riches. It is an action movie.
Still, it’s in that David Leitch universe, and part of the reason why I did the movie was because David had done this movie called Atomic Blonde with these incredible action sequences with a little-known actress called Charlize Theron.
I loved her in Mad Max, and I loved her in Atomic Blonde, I think she’s an extraordinary action hero. So I guess I would like to see her play [Mrs Claus].
TDF: One last question. What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten?
DH: The best Christmas present I ever got? When I was a kid, in Texas, we used to go have Christmas in Houston, where a lot of my extended family are. And I got something called Milky the Cow, which was a little cow that you put together and you poured milk in it, and you can milk a cow.
But the amount of know-how it took to put this thing together. It took my dad all day, and I waited by that table for like eight hours for him to put that thing together [laughs]. He still could not put it together.
So it was the best because it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. But I mean, it also was kind of the worst present because I never got to actually milk that cow. It’s impossible to put together.
Violent Night is in theatres now.